Your Complete Guide to Jersey Milk Cows

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Jersey milk cows are amazing creatures. They produce some of the most nutritious – and tasty – raw milk in existence. That’s the number one reason most jersey milk cow fanatics love them. They also make excellent pets because they are docile and friendly (not to mention curious and cute). Their big, doe-like eyes and fawn-like coloring make them completely irresistible. There is much more to jersey milk cows than meets the eye. They are more cost-effective than other breeds, fit nicely into small homesteads, and produce an insane amount of raw jersey cow milk for their size. If you’re still not convinced a jersey milk cow is right for you, keep reading to learn more about this awesome breed and why you simply must add one to your family this year.

Jersey milk cows come from the adjacent coast of France in the English Channel on the Island of Jersey.

Where do jersey milk cows come from?

If Jersey milk cows could speak, they’d probably say, “Comment ca va?” That’s because Jersey milk cows are an old breed that comes from the adjacent coast of France in the English Channel on the Island of Jersey. They first appeared on record in England in 1740 but have been around a lot longer. Researchers and agricultural historians believe the jersey milk cows breed originated after the Bos brachyceros and the Bos primigenius herds in Northern France crossbred.

Early settlers in America brought jersey cattle with them in 1657, but they didn’t become popular in the United States until the 1850s.

For the longest time, jersey milk cows weren’t regarded as productive enough to compete with the “big gals” of dairy farming in North America. Holsteins were the heifer of choice among dairy farmers in the early years. They came to the U.S. in 1852 and quickly took the top award for milk production. Each Holstein can produce about 2,900 gallons of milk during each lactation cycle. In comparison, jersey milk cows yield about 1,860 gallons per lactation cycle.

However, there is a key difference between the milk Holsteins produce and that from jersey milk cows. One breed produces β-casein protein, while the other yields A2 protein. What’s the difference? Well, if you are among the 30 million American adults with lactose intolerance, β-casein protein from Holstein dairy cows is not your friend.

Jersey milk cows are among the dairy cow breeds that produce A2 milk. Not all jersey milk cows produce A2 milk, so it is important to have them genetically tested before investing in one of A2 milk is important to you. Raw A2 milk is packed with nutrients that help our bodies grow and develop. Many people who believe they can’t drink milk because their guts don’t like it can enjoy A2 milk because it has different milk proteins that are more easily digested. This is just one of the many reasons why jersey milk cows have gained popularity among homesteaders. Here are a few more.

jersey milk cow raw milk
Jersey milk cows produce more milk with less feed, making them cost-efficient dairy cattle.

Jersey milk cows: less feed, more milk

It didn’t take dairy farmers long to discover they could get a lot of milk from jersey milk cows without going overboard on the feed. With cattle feed prices skyrocketing these days, that’s a good thing. When prices go higher, dairy farmers must make tough decisions about culling their herds. Jersey milk cows have an advantage over Holsteins because of their size. Full-grown jersey cattle weigh about 1,000 pounds and stand 48 inches tall compared with a 1,500-pound Holstein at 58 inches. Holsteins might yield more gallons of milk per lactation than jersey cattle, but it takes more feed to maintain that higher production.

Jersey milk cows are more profitable

Even though Holsteins yield more milk per lactation cycle than jersey cattle, jersey milk cows are more profitable overall. Why? Jersey cattle convert a higher percentage of their food intake to milk production. So, not only does it cost less to feed them, but they quite frankly do more with less. Jersey milk cows also fare better in warmer climates, reach puberty eight weeks sooner, and have a stronger instinct to forage.

While most homesteaders and dairy farmers raise jersey milk cows for their milk, others breed them for their beef. Jersey cattle have some of the best-tasting beef on the market. Breeders can fetch a pretty penny for jersey cattle, with a going rate of between 60 and 80 cents per pound.

The scoop on the poop

One of the unfortunate aspects of owning cattle or any herd animal is the manure they leave behind. If chucking poo isn’t high on your list of priorities, the good news is jersey milk cows produce less of it than other dairy cattle. Why do they go less frequently than other dairy cattle? Let’s circle back to an earlier reason they’ve gained in popularity to answer that question. Jersey milk cows use their food sources more efficiently than other dairy cattle. Since they are small, they not only eat less, but they also use most of the nutrients they consume for milk production, leaving little waste behind.

Make sure your jersey milk cow is healthy and disease-free before you buy.

How to buy a jersey milk cow

If you’re thoroughly convinced that owning a jersey milk cow is for you, the next question on your mind likely is how to buy one. Buying a jersey milk cow can be overwhelming if you’re a newbie to homesteading. No worries, my friends, we’ve got you covered here at Jersey Milk Cow. Here are some of our best tips for making the entire process easier and to ensure you don’t get taken advantage of when choosing a quality jersey milk cow.

Ask about disposition

No one likes a cranky dairy cow, least of all when you’re trying to milk it twice a day. Jersey milk cows may be small, but they’re mighty little buggers when they decide to be disagreeable. Stubborn jersey cattle can make daily milking (and just about any other daily care task) darn near impossible. Before you hand over any of your cold, hard cash for a jersey milk cow, ask to spend some time around it to determine its demeanor. Request the opportunity to feed and milk the cow to get a good feel for whether it’s a wild child before you end up stuck with it.

Check immunization records

Some immunizations for jersey milk cows are required depending on where you live. If you plan to sell your cow’s raw milk or make any raw milk products from it, complying with vaccine mandates is a must. Jersey milk cows are susceptible to three categories of disease:

  • Clostridial bacteria affects the intestinal system of cows. Some veterinarians offer a 7-way vaccine to cover several types of clostridial bacteria diseases.
  • Reproductive bacteria and viruses affect fertility, with bovine herpesvirus (BHV-1) the most common type.
  • Respiratory bacteria and viruses attack a dairy cow’s respiratory system. Most veterinarians provide a five-way modified live vaccine to protect against these diseases.

Make sure your jersey milk cow is healthy before you buy her so you don’t end up sinking a lot of cash into her.

Test for staph and other infections

Fewer things are worse for a jersey milk cow than contracting a Staph A infection, which causes mastitis. Dairy cattle with mastitis produce contaminated milk. Worse yet, the infection can spread among all dairy cattle if you have more than one jersey milk cow on your homestead or small dairy farm. Make sure any jersey cattle you buy are Staph-free. Other diseases of concern include E. coli 157H7, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria Monocytogenes.

Work with local breeders

Give local breeders preference over cattle auctions when you want to have an assurance of health and temperament. Most local breeders allow prospective buyers to examine jersey cattle before they buy, so they know exactly what they are getting. While jersey cattle auctions supply some information, you can get a first-hand assessment when the transaction is conducted on a more personal level with a local breeder.

jersey cow shelter
Providing adequate shelter is one of the three essential ingredients for taking care of your jersey milk cow.

How to care for your jersey milk cow

Caring for your jersey milk cow is not difficult. Like most herd animals, they need food, freshwater, and shelter to stay healthy and happy. You also should plan to milk your jersey cow at least twice a day to keep her production levels high and her udders healthy.

Allowing your jersey cattle to graze is part of the daily feeding routine. You also can supplement with livestock feed, called fodder. Jersey milk cows also love alfalfa pellets, barley grain, and salt blocks in moderation. Access to freshwater is part of proper nutrition for your jersey cattle.

The shelter is easy. We use a two-stall barn situated on our 5 acres, which gives us more than enough space for milking and other cow’s other needs. Our barn has a covered area for shade and a corral that connects to our land for grazing. You can find prefabricated shelters for your jersey milk cows online.

Jersey cattle for any homestead

Jersey cattle make any homestead complete. You can enjoy their A2 milky goodness for yourself or make a tidy profit selling raw jersey cow milk and milk products to your local community. Have more questions about jersey cattle we didn’t answer here? Feel free to ask them in the comments and we’ll do our best to oblige. You also can explore our other blogs here on our site to learn more about this amazing dairy cattle breed.

Sources:

  1. Michigan State University Agricultural Extension Office, History of Dairy Cow Breeds: Jersey, January 27, 2016.
  2. Taylor & Francis Online, Bos brachyceros, the West-African buffalo, and the Dwarf Buffalo of Pennant, 13 October 2009.
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, Lactose Intolerance.
  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Beef Slaughter, 2015-2020.
  5. U.S. Jersey Journal, 2020 Auction Sale Summary, February 4, 2021.
  6. Zoetis U.S. vaccines and products for bovines, www2.zoetisus.com.

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Brandon
Hi fellow homesteaders! My name is Brandon. I live on a small family homestead with my amazing wife and five kiddos. We are on a journey to improve our lives through God’s creation. Raising cows is an important part of that journey. We currently have one Jersey cow and are hoping to soon expand our Jersey family with the help of a bull named Ferdinand. We welcome you to join us as we explore the benefits of owning Jersey cows. Whether you are raising them for milk or meat, our website is chock full of helpful facts and advice to make the experience more enjoyable. Take a tour and drop us a note with any questions. Cheers! Brandon

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