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Jersey Cows: Breed Profile, Facts and Photos


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We love milk, you love milk, everybody loves milk. Well, what about people who are lactose intolerant? They might love it even more than anyone else if they’re willing to go through hell and back just to get a sip of the life juice that is milk.

All jokes aside, dairy should be a part of everyone’s diet, no matter who you are or what your goals are. But if you really want to get the best quality dairy around you should go for a cow breed that really fits the bill on that one.

Luckily, there is one breed that more than delivers on this promise, and that is none other than the Jersey Cattle breed.

What makes it so special though and more importantly, is this really the best option for you?

Let’s find out together as we cover the ins and outs of the mischievous loveable creature that is the Jersey Cow.

The History of the Jersey Cow

Jersey Cow
Photo by Mike Cunningham / Pixabay.com

A lot of research was conducted over the years in order to pinpoint the exact origin of this cattle, and yet we know very little about them to give you an exact answer. While most experts believe that this breed came from somewhere around the coast of France, no one can really be sure of it.

All that we know is that the Jersey cow made its way to the Jersey Island sometime before A.D 709, so it is believed that it must have been brought there from Normandy or Brittany before that or around that time frame.

Regardless, the breed really started to catch the eye of the brits back in 1741, which is when they received the nickname of the “Alderneys” from the locals.

The peak of its popularity came around the 1860s though, at the end of the Industrial Revolution, when the population of Great Britain, continental Europe and the US really started to grow. This is due to the fact that there weren’t a lot of food sources around and the Jersey Cows were readily available to anyone that was in need.

Nowadays, you will find that the Jersey cow is still a fan favorite around the world, and that’s largely due to the fact that it is one of the biggest breeds of dairy cattle out there.

The funny thing about it though is that you can only really find around 6,000 of them on the Jersey Island, with more than 4,000 of them being adult milking cows that are used by the locals.

The main reason for this is the fact that the locals prefer to keep the breed’s purity untouched, never allowing cross breeding of any kind.

Jersey History
Photo by Ari Kejonen / Pixabay.com

But regardless, while the Jersey cow has definitely seen better days when it comes to its overall popularity, it’s no wonder that it is still close to the very top due to its very high-quality milk and of course, its ability to survive in most climates and environments altogether.

Despite the fact that the Jersey cows originated from France and are still considered to be a national animal there, most of the world’s Jersey cattle will be found in the United States.

There are apparently well over 132,000 Jersey cows in the US alone, and it is believed that these numbers will only grow in the future, as more and more people have decided to switch from the city life to a farmer’s lifestyle over the past decade or so.

They are especially hardy, and as such they make for a great option for most farmers out there that are just now starting up.

Regardless of whether you live in an especially warm environment or if you are more so living in the blazing cold, the Jersey cow is sure to survive through it all and give you all of the milk that you could ever ask for.

Needless to say, if you want a good cow that will suit your every needs you can’t go wrong with a Jersey Cow, but for now let’s go more in depth over the cow’s advantages and disadvantages.

Jersey Cow Characteristics

Jersey Characteristics
Photo by Emerson junior (Mkt Nobre) / Pixabay.com

Most Jersey cows out there will be light brownish, although you can get the occasional grey to darker colored specimen too.

This specific variant is known as the Mulberry, and while most breeders will still consider this to be a purebred competition ready animal, the locals on the Jersey Island would beg to disagree.

For the most part though, if you want an actual purebred Jersey, you should make sure that your cow has a black nose coupled with an off-tint white muzzle.

There are currently three Channel Island cattle breeds out there, with the Jersey Cattle being by far the most popular of the three. Besides it you also have the Alderney and the Guernsey cow breeds, and while they are slightly larger than the Jersey cows, you can instantly point out if you have one on your hands based on the fact that they don’t have those distinctive black and white colors that the other two are always seen with.

Cute Jersey Cow
Photo by Jennifer Dickert / wikipedia.org

While definitely not the largest breed of cattle out there, Jersey cows are still known for having a relatively strong frame, standing at around 400 to 450kg in total.

We should also mention here that the average Jersey bull can grow quite large, being able to reach a total weight of anywhere between 540kg to 820kg, depending on the quality and quantity of the food you feed it.

One of the main reasons why you would get yourself a Jersey cow is definitely its great milk production capacity. Not only is the milk super high in protein, but it also comes at a much more affordable cost than the other major breeds out there.

Another interesting thing to note about the Jersey cow is the fact that they have quite abnormally large udders. This is good news to say the least as it showcases the breed’s ability to produce so much milk every year.

On top of that, the breed also features little to no calving issues whatsoever. They are very fertile creatures, and considering their short calving interval and the fact that they mature quicker than the average cow breed, it’s really quite easy to see why this breed is so beloved by everyone.

Jersey Cow Characteristics
Photo by sledgirlmt / Pixabay.com

Due to how little fat that they actually store in their bodies, the Jersey cow’s milk is typically very delicious and good for weight loss, especially so considering its high protein base.

Couple that with the fact that the breed is very proficient at producing milk, being able to produce as much as 4,500 to 8,000kg of milk per year, and you will definitely find yourself wanting one in the future too.

The milk is also very popular due to the fact that it contains 5 percent of butterfat, a fact that is very important to note if you wish to get yourself a Jersey in the future.

 Are Jersey Cattle Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Jersey Cattle
Photo by Travis Leery / Unsplash.com

One of the best parts about Jersey cows is the fact that they are actually very low maintenance animals. This is due to how hardy they really are, they can withstand most climates and living conditions.

With all that being said though, you should still make sure that they have around 2 acres of pasture per cow just so that they can handle themselves properly and not end up starving or not having the room to move around in.

This makes the Jersey cow one of the best small-scale farming contenders out there, so there really is no reason as to why you shouldn’t opt for one if you’re just getting started on your journey.

They might be low maintenance but this doesn’t mean that you should just downright ignore their needs. They still require a good bit of resources and they especially need a decent amount of work to be properly taken care of.

If you want to own a cow and just leave it to cater to its own needs, it can definitely do it, but you should still take the time and save up money so that you can make sure that your Jersey cow lives up to be decently healthy and all of that.

So, while you can still raise a Jersey cow on a low budget and maintenance, we would still recommend that if you are just simply looking for a mini-operation of some kind, that you go for a different breed.

Jersey Farming
Photo by Dhanush Satyan / Unsplash.com

If you can handle the 2-acre pasture and to take care of their overall needs though, the Jersey cow will become one of the best options for your farm.

Just make sure to feed it properly, give it the room it needs, call the doctor every now and then, and make sure that it gets all of the proteins and minerals it deserves through its diet.

Nobody wants to have to deal with diseases, so if you want your Jersey cow to still be with you many years from now, definitely don’t skip out on the doctor checkups every now and then.

While we are on this topic, we should also mention the fact that Jersey cattle are less susceptible to mastitis. This is largely due to the fact that this disorder is a lot more frequent in Holsteins, although you shouldn’t take this as a sign that they never get it.

Around 22% of all Jerseys have been found to suffer from mastitis. This may be significantly lower than the 51% of the Holsteins out there, but it is still something to keep in mind when getting yourself a Jersey cow and whatnot.

Jersey Cows Behavior and Temperament

Jersey Temperament

Jersey Cows are known for being very good farm animals, while also being some of the best options for newcomers due to their good temperament and easygoingness.

They are very trustworthy to the point where you can even allow your children to play with them, although we do recommend that you do so while being around just in case. Remember, this is still a 400 to 500kg animal right here, simply stepping on your foot can be enough to break it after all.

The fact that it is such a nice and peaceful creature though will definitely show a lot when it comes to its costs.  If the cow were to be quite riley and obnoxious, you’d definitely have to spend quite a lot of money fixing or replacing all of the equipment that it would kick every now and then.

Equipment is quite expensive to say the least, which is why you should keep that in mind when going for a fairly large animal such as the Jersey cow.

Dairy cows are typically quite friendly additions to your family though so this shouldn’t be something that you’d need to worry about, and the Jersey cow is no different. Just keep in mind that it is still a large animal and all that, so keep your eyes on it when involving your children.

Jersey Cattle
Photo by Man vyi / wikipedia.org

They are quite easy to train though which makes them the perfect candidates for families that want a fluffy and very massive pet around the house.

On top of that, their high feed conversion efficiency is known all around the globe, so you should definitely keep that in mind if you want to get your hands on one for yourself in the near future.

If you want to get them for their meat though you should know that they’re not exactly the best candidates for the job. Since they are not the largest cows in the world, you may find yourself losing money in growing them for this purpose alone.

If you want to make a quick buck though you should definitely consider selling their milk because it is by far the most unique and interesting aspect of the Jersey cow.

The macros for the Jersey cow are just insane, you are looking at 18% protein, 20% calcium, 25% more butterfat than the average milk and it is just really delicious at the end of the day which drives its price quite high to say the least.

On top of that, the Jersey cow is very proficient producing milk, so when you add in the fact that it also sells for a premium price, let’s just say that the Jersey cow really earns its keep by the end of the day.

Last but not least we would like to mention the fact that the Jersey cow also has no problem calving for the most part. It has great fertility and it is known for reaching maturity quite quickly so you shouldn’t ever have to worry about that when raising your very own Jersey cow.

Should You Get Yourself a Jersey Cow?

Jersey Cow Acquisition

All things considered, is it really worth spending so much money to get yourself a Jersey cow? Honestly, the answer here largely depends on your current budget.

While this is definitely not the most expensive cow breed to go for, it is still going to leave a pretty sizable hole in your budget when you’re going to be done with the process.

The typical Jersey cow will cost you anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000, depending on its purity and of course, how well documented you want to be regarding your cow’s medical history and whatnot.

We do recommend that you go for a certified breeder though because the purebred Jersey cow is definitely worth the investment.

As a pure dairy producer, the Jersey cow can easily produce as much as ten times its weight in milk during the lactation period.

American Jersey Cattle
Photo by American Jersey Cattle Association / facebook.com

As such, if you want to get your money’s worth you will need to get the dough ready and not frown at the relatively large price tag.

Remember that this is a time-tested dairy producer that reigns supreme in its category, it is by far one of the best milk producers in the world out there, and considering just how delicious its milk really is, it’s no wonder that it fetches quite a premium price on the open market.

There are quite a handful of culinary recipes that you can go for too, and while some are definitely better than others, they will all be made all the better by the high-quality milk that the Jersey cattle are known for.


Jersey Cows
Photo by Billings Farm & Museum / facebook.com

Overall, we can definitely say that the Jersey cow is one of the best options for your farm out there. Are there cheaper alternatives? Sure. Are there better meat alternatives? A hundred and one percent yes.

But, does this mean that you should not even consider getting yourself a Jersey cow? No, of course not. It all depends on what you want from the cow. If you want a meat cow then you should probably opt for a different breed altogether.

You can even get a much better price for a much better deal if you’re merely looking for a meat cow. But, if you want to get your hands on the best milk producer out there, you should already know by now that the Jersey cow reigns supreme for a reason.

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About Leah Shelton

Involved in the “green” arena for over 20 years, Leah has worn many hats due to her diverse experience and knowledge in the field. In addition to writing for Agronomag, she’s also a sustainability consultant with a unique perspective on eco-friendly farming practices. Learn more about Agronomag's Editorial Process.

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