The Jersey Cow
The History of the Jersey Cow
Jersey cows originated on a small island in the English Channel. While no one knows the origins of the original cows on the island, what is known is that the dairy farmers on the Isle of Jersey have carefully bred their milk cows for over six centuries for efficient production of milk and butterfat. As early as the 1700s, Jersey cows were popular in England for their gentle ways and high feed efficiency. In 1763, a law was made on the Isle of Jersey forbidding the importation of any other breeds of cattle. This means that the Jersey cows that are still living on the island are of the highest quality and purest pedigree. In the 1850s, Jersey cows were brought to the United States where they quickly became popular as milk cows. The bull calves were often made into steers and used for meat or as draft oxen.
The Beauty of a Jersey Cow
When shopping for a family milk cow, many people simply consider the looks of a cow. Some are attracted to the flashy spots of a Holstein. Yet, others think that the speckled patterns of an Aryshire are just gorgeous. Other people are drawn to the big, gentle, brown eyes of the Jersey cow. While Holsteins, Aryshires, Brown Swiss, and even Guernseys are all beautiful cows, we feel the Jersey is probably the best milk breed for the small-time, hobby farmer. There is so much more to a Jersey cow than its doe-like beauty and distinctive turned-up nose.
Jerseys are one of the smaller framed cows. On average, they weigh between 800 and 1000 pounds. They have well-formed udders that are usually white or pinkish in color. Jerseys don’t only come in the typical fawn color. They are also available in a silvery gray, and a brownish black called mulberry. All Jerseys have a distinctive white line on their muzzles around their noses and mouths and small black hooves. Some Jerseys have black tongues and tail switches. Jersey cows have large, expressive brown eyes fringed by gorgeous, long lashes. Their heads are feminine with small muzzles. Jerseys are typically horned cattle, but often they are de-horned as calves to make them easier to handle. Some Jerseys are polled and born without horns. Polled livestock are without horns in species which normally are horned. The term refers to animals which are naturally polled through selective breeding.
The Jersey Cow Advantage
Jersey cows are ideal dairy animals for the small farmer for several reasons. First, they are smaller in frame size, and for a person who may have little or no cattle-handling experience, a smaller cow will probably be a little less intimidating. This small size also means that they will eat much less than a larger cow like a Holstein. Second, Jersey cows are scientifically proven to have the best feed to milk conversion factor. This means that they need less feed to produce the same amount of milk as other breeds of cow.