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Jersey Cattle

Last updated date: 28th Feb 2024
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Jersey Breed of Cattle

Jersey cattle are a small breed of dairy cattle that are mainly raised for milk production. 

The breed is well known for its high milk production as well as the high butterfat content of its milk. The jersey breed is the second largest breed of dairy cattle in the world. The breed was first registered as a separate breed around 1700, and it was descended from cattle stock brought over from the nearby Norman mainland.

For over two hundred years, it was cut off from the rest of the world (actually from 1789 to 2008). Currently, the breed is primarily used for milk production and is widely used as a dairy cattle breed.

History of the Jersey Breed:

Jerseys were raised on the British Channel Island of Jersey, as their name suggests. It was first registered as a separate breed around 1700, and it descended from cattle stock brought over from the nearby Norman mainland.

From 1789 to 2008, the breed was kept isolated from outside influences for over 200 years.

Cows were granted as dowry for inter-island marriages between Jersey and Guernsey prior to 1789. This, however, was not a common occurrence.

Imports of foreign cattle into Jersey were prohibited by law in 1789 in order to preserve the breed's purity, despite the fact that cattle and sperm exports have historically been important economic commodities for the island. The ban on cattle imports was put in place to keep the export price from falling too low. Cattle from Jersey were not subject to any import taxes in the United Kingdom. To get around the French cattle tariff, cattle were being transported from France to Jersey and then to England. Because of the increased supply of cattle, some of which were of poor quality, the price of Jersey cattle was falling and the prestige of the breed was being harmed.

In 1866, the States of Jersey conducted a stock census, revealing that Jersey was home to 12,037 cattle, 611 of which were bulls.

The States of Jersey took the historic step of lifting the import ban in July 2008, allowing the import of bull semen from any breed of cattle, though only genetically pure semen allows the progeny to be entered in the Jersey Herd Book. For several years, each of Jersey's 12 parishes held cattle shows in the spring, summer, and autumn, followed by the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society's main shows, where the best of the parish shows competed. The colour of a prize-winning cow's rosette was said to decide its export value. Currently, the RJAHS stages two shows each year, with five or six of the remaining 23 herds competing for the top prizes. The West Show Association hosts a Jersey cattle show in Jersey.

Despite strict laws and inspections, semen from an impure breed Jersey bull was introduced into the island in February 2010, and 100 cows were impregnated with the semen. The Jersey Herd Book will not record their offspring.

From around 1850, Jersey cattle were shipped to the United States. The American Jersey Cattle Club, a breed society, was established in 1868. A distinction is often made in the United States between the "American Jersey," which is coarse and broad and has been selectively bred primarily for milk yield, and the original or "Island" form, which is also known as "Miniature Jersey."

Characteristics of the Jersey Breed:

The Jersey cow weighs between 400 and 500 kilograms (880 to 1,100 lb). The breed's popularity has been boosted by factors such as its lower cost of production, which is attributed to:

  • Due to lower body weight and therefore lower maintenance requirements, the ability to transport a greater number of successful milking cows per unit area is possible, as is superior grazing ability.

  • Calving ease and a low rate of dystocia have made them famous for crossbreeding with other dairy and beef breeds to minimize calving-related injuries.

  • Fertility is abundant.

  • High levels of butterfat (4.84%) and protein (3.95%), as well as the potential to survive on locally sourced feed.

  • Jersey cattle are a smaller dairy cattle breed than other dairy cattle breeds. Their bodies are typically slightly reddish, dark brown, or mixed in colour. They have a comparatively large head and generally do not have a hunchback.

  • Jersey cattle have a black tail and a large udder, which is typical of a dairy breed. Horns are used on both bulls and cows. The horns of jersey animals are normally small and curved.

  • Jersey cow’s average body weight ranges from 400 to 500 kg. The mature bulls weigh between 540 and 820 kg on average.

Jerseys come in a variety of brown colours, ranging from light tan to almost black. They are typically fawn-coloured. While colour restrictions have been relaxed in recent years to encourage a broadening of the gene pool, all purebred Jerseys have a lighter band around their muzzles, a dark switch (long hair on the end of the tail), and black hooves.

Bulls can be volatile or aggressive, while cows are calm and docile.

Owing to their smaller body size (which results in an increased surface area-to-mass ratio, raising heat loss), Jersey cattle have a higher susceptibility to post parturient hypocalcemia (or "milk fever") in dams and have weak calves that need more diligent management in cold weather than other dairy breeds.

Interesting Facts About Jersey Cattle

Jersey cattle are a British breed of small dairy cattle native to the British Channel Islands of Jersey. The Alderney, which is now extinct, and Guernsey are the other two Channel Island cattle breeds. It's a fast-yielding breed, with cows producing up to 10 times their body weight in milk per lactation; the milk is high in butterfat and has a distinctive yellowish tint.

Jersey cattle are known for their calm demeanour. They're known for their low maintenance and superior grazing capacity. The breed is also known for being easy to calve. When the calf is born, it is relatively small.

Jersey cattle are one of the oldest cattle breeds, having arrived in England in the 1740s and the United States in the 1850s. There are thousands of purebred Jersey cattle on the island where the breed originated, meaning they have never been mated with any other cattle breed. They grow at a faster rate and have a lower body fat percentage. Jersey cattle are excellent grazing animals that can survive in a variety of climates and environments around the world. This breed has been selectively bred to produce milk with high butterfat and protein content over time. Although the amount of milk produced by Jersey cattle is less than that of larger breeds, the concentration of components is much higher.

Jersey dogs are named after Jersey Island, a small British island off the coast of France in the English Channel. Jersey is one of the oldest dairy breeds, with authorities reporting it as purebred for nearly 600 years.

The breed was first recorded in England in 1771, and it was highly regarded for its milk and butterfat quality. Jersey cattle were originally known as Alderney cattle, but the island's cattle were later referred to simply as Jerseys. In the 1850s, Jersey cattle were introduced to the United States.

Outstanding Jersey herds can be found from Denmark to Australia and New Zealand, from Canada to South America, and from South Africa to Japan. They are adaptable to a wide variety of climatic and geographical conditions. They are excellent grazers and thrive in heavy grazing situations. They tolerate heat better than the larger breeds. Jersey produces more milk per pound of body weight than any other breed, with an average weight of 900 pounds. Every lactation, most Jerseys produce more than 13 times their body weight in milk.

In terms of dairy type, the current Jersey breed is unrivalled. In the past, breeders in the United States used to distinguish between two styles of Jerseys: the Island and the American; however, this distinction is no longer made. It's worth noting that this is a different use of the word "form" than is commonly assumed, and it refers to the animal's overall size and quality rather than its use for dairy purposes. The Island-style Jerseys were known for their refinement and other attributes that were deemed appropriate for success in the show ring. Cattle imported from the island of Jersey or their immediate descendants won most of the major awards in the American show ring due to the refinement and elegance of those cattle in mature form. The so-called American-type Jerseys were known for their quality rather than their aesthetics. This type of cattle is typically larger, a little coarser, and has been bred for years for the qualities that make them suitable for milk and butterfat processing. They've been dubbed the "Farmer's" Jersey by others. The elegance of the Island cattle typically gives way to the larger and less refined American kind after two or three generations in the hands of the ordinary feeder in the United States.

Jersey Cow Origin

Cows have a lot of refinement around their heads and shoulders, have long, straight top lines, and their rump is normally long and level. Jersey cow origin can be considered from 1740. They are normally deep in the body and full and deep in the barrel for their size. The well-balanced Jersey cow is the most attractive dairy animal, and while she is generally a little more anxious than the other dairy cows, she is usually docile and easy to handle. Jersey cow breed is typically between 800 and 1200 pounds in weight, but medium-sized cows are usually preferred. The Jersey cow adapts well to a variety of climates and conditions, and unlike many other breeds that originated in temperate climates, these cows can withstand extreme heat. Jersey cows can be referred to as jersey dairy cows as they can yield 20 litres per day of milk. Jersey cows produce an abundance of milk. The cows can produce 3500–-4500 kg of milk per year on average. The jersey cow milk colour is usually fawn or cream in shade.

Jersey Bulls:

Jersey bulls are highly masculine, despite their small size in comparison to other dairy breeds. They have more muscle on their crests and shoulders than the females, and they are less refined all over. Bulls can have the same general characteristics as cows, such as straight lines and dairy conformation. They typically weigh between 1200 and 1800 pounds, however, like females, medium weights are preferred. Jersey bulls have the least docile temperament of any of the common cattle breeds. It is foolish to trust any dairy bull over the age of eighteen months, particularly Jerseys.

Modern Jersey: 

Modern jerseys come in a variety of colours. While most breeders prefer cattle with an unbroken colour pattern, there is little preference today between solid and broken colours. The dark tongue and turn are preferred by the majority, but this is more of an identifying point than a point of prejudice. Jerseys can range in colour from a very light grey or mouse colour to a very dark fawn or almost black hue. Bulls and females are typically darker around the hips, ears, and shoulders than the rest of the body. Most breeders prefer medium colour shades to the extremes, but nearly all of them recognize that form and producing ability are much more important than colour hue or whether the colour is solid or broken.


Jersey cattle are mostly used in the dairy industry. They are mainly raised for milk production.

A Quick Recap of the History 

You might sometimes see the recognisable golden coat of a Jersey cow which is found in nations all over the world, every Jersey cow's pedigree can be traced back to the Royal Jersey Agricultural & Horticultural Society's original Jersey Herd Book, which was published in 1863. On the island of Jersey, there are currently around 30 herds of Jersey cows totalling over 3,000 cows.

You'll very certainly come across herds of Jersey cows lazing around in the pastures of Jersey while you explore the island getaway. Between March and October, when the fields are full of delicious grass for them to graze on, you're most likely to see these magnificent females out and about. The females stay closer to home during the winter months, but that doesn't mean you won't have an encounter, so keep your eyes out as you go through the country lanes.

Where Can You Try Jersey's Renowned, Luscious, Creamy Dairy Products?

Jersey cows are noted for their excellent quality rich and creamy milk, which is used to make an amazing range of Jersey dairy products, from butter and ice cream to yoghurt, clotted cream, and cheese, in addition to their kind disposition and good looks.

Jersey Dairy goods can be found in each supermarket on the island of Jersey. Find your favourite from a carton of milk, a pot of yoghurt, or a pungent cheese and dig in. Grab a pot (or three) of La Cremiere salted caramel sauce from Woodland's Farm. This decadent dessert is produced with Jersey milk from their herd. It's the best snack to put you in a happy mood. If you visit during the spring and summer, don't forget to have their delicious Jersey gelato. You could even get to meet one of our bovine beauties while you're there if you're lucky.

The Biological Difference in Feeding Jerseys 

When compared to other breeds, Jersey cows are exceptionally effective feed converters, despite their small stature. They have a biological capacity to utilise the energy in their diet to generate milk rather than squander it. Jersey milk has 18% more protein, 29% more milk fat, and 20% more calcium than regular pooled milk and we do get a lot of vitamins in it.

Helping You Save Money 

When compared to other breeds, studies suggest that Jerseys save 13–18% on total feed costs. Feed expenses account for about 55% of your dairy operation's input, so this might be a big reduction.

Reduced feed requirements in Jerseys can result in the need for the less agricultural area, 24% less manure storage, and lower feed harvest and storage expenses. The ecosystem benefits from less phosphorus in the manure.

Production of Milk

Jersey cows are exceptional milk producers, generating more milk per pound of body weight than other bovine breeds. A Jersey holds the record for the most milk produced by a single cow. Jersey produces more milk on less feed than other dairy breeds, consuming around 80% of Holstein's daily diet.


Jersey cows are well known for being easy to calve. According to the American Kennel Club, the breed's difficult birth rate is less than 1%. Heifers reach reproductive age months before equivalent dairy cows, allowing them to be bred and placed into milk production months sooner. Jersey cows have the longest productive life in the dairy sector in the United States, averaging three years.

FAQs on Jersey Cattle

1. How do you identify a Jersey cow?

Jersey cow can be identified by the following:

  • Colour: A light grey or tan to a very dark fawn or a very dark, almost black hue are all possibilities.

  • Colour patterns are mostly unbroken, although they are darker around their hips, head, and shoulders.

  • Jersey cows come in a wide variety of sizes, weighing anywhere from 800 to 1,200 pounds.

  • Horns have been removed.

2. What is special about Jersey cows?

When compared to the other major breeds, Jerseys produce a pound of milk components at a lower cost. She has fewer or no calving issues, is more fertile, has a shorter calving cycle, and matures faster. Jerseys are the only dairy breed that stays in the herd longer than any other.

3. How many cows can bull breed in a day?

Top-performing bulls can produce six to eight cows per day. Weight loss is inevitable with this workload, but bulls should be in good shape before breeding starts. Also, keep in mind that young bulls are still developing and can need additional feed during the breeding season.

Jersey cows will be a regular sight if you're travelling the island of Jersey, with their golden colouring and dark-eyed good looks. Find out when you're most likely to catch a glimpse of these lovely females, and maybe even enjoy a pleasant head scratch. We've also included some of the best places to sample the dairy products that our Jersey breed is known for.

4. Which cow is known to produce the most milk in its lifetime? 

The cow that produces the most milk in its lifetime is the Holstein Friesian. This breed of cows is said to have originated from Holland or the Netherlands. The milk production in Holstein cows ranges from 7200 to 9000 kg per lactation and it has a fat level of 3.5–4.0 per cent. In terms of milk production, this is by far the best cow to have in case you want milk in larger quantities. 

5. What are the benefits of Jersey cows? 

The production of nonfat dry milk of Jersey cows is 10% more, they also produce 20–25% more cheese, and 30% more butter, which is why they are in such high demand. They have a very amiable disposition and are extremely simple to milk. They are taken for health checks at regular intervals to ensure that the milk is of excellent quality. Their faeces is also utilised to create biogas as a fertiliser and for a variety of other purposes.