Jersey Cattle

Jerseys are a smaller breed, producing rich butterfat milk. They're one of the most popular breeds among homesteaders.

by Dani Yokhna

Use: Very popular with homesteaders, Jerseys account for about 7 percent of all cows in the United States. This smaller sized dairy breed is respected for producing a fairly high quantity of milk relative to their size (about 16,000 pounds per year) that is particularly rich in butterfat (4.9 percent) and protein. Though their total production is lower than that of Holsteins, their net return (or dollars of profit per cow per year) is higher thanks to their lower feed requirements and their ability to stay productive for many years.

History: Like the Guernseys, they come from an island, the Isle of Jersey, located in the English Channel between England and France. They were imported to the United States in the early 19th century.

Conformation: Jersey cows are relatively small; most mature cows weigh about 900 pounds and stand around four feet tall at the withers.

Special Considerations/Notes: When a Jersey heifer matures earlier, she can be bred at a younger age and smaller size–and can enter the milking herd sooner; they’re quicker to generate income for a dairy producer. Jerseys are renown for their ease of calving. Overall, Jerseys are sweet animals, but in spite of their doe-like eyes and small size, they can also be playful and rambunctious, sometimes to the point of being a nuisance.

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