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Illinois hosts annual convention, sees Jerseys galore

EAST PEORIA, IL -- The American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) and National All-Jersey, Inc., (NAJ) recently convened in East Peoria, IL, for their annual convention. Business meetings, recognition of breeders, support of junior programs and touring local Jersey herds filled the convention schedule that ran from June 24-27.

The Jersey Breeders Recognition Banquet was the evening feature on Thursday, June 25. The American Jersey Cattle Club presented three awards; the Distinguished Service award, the AJCA-NAJ Award for Meritorious Service and the Master Breeder award.

The Distinguished Service award was presented to George and Shirley Barlass of Janesville, Wisconsin. This award is bestowed annually upon as many living AJCA members and or members' families, who, in the opinion of the Board of Directors have rendered outstanding and unselfish service for many years and thereby have made a notable contribution to the advancement of the Jersey breed in the United States.

The AJCA-NAJ award for Meritorious Service was presented to Paula England of Columbus, Ohio. This award is given to an individual, who, in the joint opinion of the Boards of Directors of the AJCA and NAJ., has made a notable contribution to the advancement of the breed.

Lyon Jerseys, LLC of Toledo, Iowa were the recipients of the Master Breeder Award. Joe, Stuart and Eric Lyon were presented this award for breeding outstanding Jerseys for many years.

The 58th Annual National Heifer Sale was held on June 26 and the 39 consignments averaged $3842. This is a unique sale where all the consignments are donated by the breeders and all the money raised from the sale is used to fund the AJCA Junior programs.

River Valley Farms owned by Gregg and Cindy Sauder and their seven children of Tremont, hosted a tour of their 300 head Jersey farm. The Sauders are using robotic milkers, an automated calf feeding system and have a boxstall barn full of deep pedigreed Jerseys that are perennial show ring favorites. Convention attendees enjoyed touring the entire farm and learning more about River Valley 7JE5000 genetics. The 7JE5000 is a slate of A.I. bulls River Valley offers direct from Select Sires. 'Genetics to Believe In' is their tag line that describes their focus of developing breed-leading females that can provide dairy producers around the globe with genetics they can trust from cow families they can respect.

Top Jersey genetics and a milk bottling plant were the featured attraction at Kilgus Farmstead of Fairbury. Having been in the Kilgus family for some 60 years, the original dairy herd consisted of Holsteins but when they decided to start bottling their own milk they switched to the Jersey breed because a higher value is placed on milk with greater butterfat and protein content. Today they milk 160 registered Jerseys, raise meat animals for retail sales and have a country store on the farm where they offer their milk, ice cream, their farm raised meats and locally made cheese.

The business of the association was taken care of at their annual meeting where AJCA CEO Neal Smith presented an overview of the association and the Jersey breed's genetic progress over the last twenty years.

The final evening of the convention found attendees enjoying dinner and amusement hosted by the Gregg and Cindy Sauder family with fireworks topping off the event.

The 2016 AJCA NAJ annual meeting will be hosted by the California Jersey breeders as they convene in San Diego next June.