Agricultural History Series

  Missouri State University

 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair

Worlds Fair Dairy Test

The dairy test began on June 8th, 1904 after being delayed several days due to faults in the plumbing of the milking system.  The object of the test was to see which breed of cattle would produce the most milk most economically, to find which breed will give the greatest amount of milk solids from the least amount of feed and to find which breed would give the greatest in beef or milk.  Jersey, Holstein, Shorthorn and Brown Swiss were to be the four competing breeds with foreign breeds barred from the contest.  All of the cattle participating in the contest were weighed for five consecutive days before the contest began to accurately know their starting weights and were then to be weighed in at the end of the contest to help determine the winner.  

The cattle selected were from the best herds in the country and were to be placed in separate stalls, be fed what the superintendent suggested and were to be fed and milked under the watchful eye of exposition and government officials.  Milk samples from the cattle were taken by a panel of four chemists taken to the lab in locked and sealed boxes and analyzed.  “Every precaution will be taken to conduct the test in an accurate manner” was stated how the contest was to be run.

“A Great Jersey Victory” 

Contest results were taken to such a point to show the relative similarities of the rival breeds of Holstein versus Jersey and how they compared. 

In Test “A” – The economic production of butter fat.  The value of the Jersey herd was $1,710,403 and the cost of feeding the herd was $722, 507, making for a net profit of $987, 896 or $39.51 per head.  Compared to the Jerseys, the Holsteins made a per head profit of $29.20, thus making the Jerseys the most economical butter producers of their day. 

In Test “B” -  The economic production of milk.  The Jersey herd produced a milk amount valued at $1,743, 206 and other solids valued at $327,073 for a total value of $2,079,279, the cost of feed was $722,507 and made for a profit of $1,347,772 or 53.91 per cow.  The per head profit of the Holstein herd was $46.85, which proved the Jersey breed was $7 per head more valuable over the 120 day period. 

The Jersey appeared to be the winner of greatest public dairy test ever conducted.  Jersey breeders claimed that it justified what all had claimed for the Jersey breed.   

 Reference:  The World's Work, 1904 

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