Shifting dynamics in the U.S. dairy product/milk marketplace have put Guernsey breeders on a solid upward glide path, reports Doug Granitz, executive director of the American Guernsey Association. “For several decades, the emphasis in the market was more on high yield, less on the component side of things,” he says.
“But now things have turned the other way. There’s strong demand for the type of milk the Guernsey is known for. We’re starting to gain traction again as a high-component, specialty-spaced type of breed. We are local, premium and own a great legacy around the Golden Guernsey milk brand.”
To keep the momentum going, Guernsey breeders are zeroed in on improving traits likely to broaden appeal among dairy producers and consumers alike. “Our strong herds are excellent on Daughter Pregnancy Rate, have low somatic counts and also have longevity and good productive life,” says Granitz. “They also have very good component and milk yields.”
Whole milk is one of the market segments offering opportunity. Granitz notes U.S. sales were up 16% in 2017, after 40 years of decline. “The Guernsey is well-positioned to fill that premium space,” he says.
Likewise, the breed is positioned to take advantage of growing consumer interest in potential health benefits of certain milk components, including A2. “A growing body of science seems to signal positive health-related benefits around the A2 beta casein,” says Granitz, noting the Guernsey is the breed with the highest levels of naturally-occurring A2 protein in the population. “Consumers are looking for milk which delivers a rich, authentic taste and has a compelling nutritional and local pedigree. The Guernsey cow delivers.”