Why a Jersey Cow?
There are many breeds of cows. There’s dairy, beef, and some beautiful dual-breeds who are great for dairy or meat. After
some a lot of research we decided to get a Jersey cow.
We had decided to get Nubian Goats. To read about that, go here. While we were finalizing our plan for Nubian goats the Jersey cow kept coming back on the scene. 2 People had a big influence on our decision to get Jersey cows and not goats: John Seymour & Mamaw.
#1 – Mamaw
Our decision had been made. We had decided to get dairy goats. We had even contacted the person we were buying them from and were in the process of “which” and “how many.” Mamaw and I were taking my kids to the pumpkin patch. Out of nowhere, as we drove through the winding roads of the country Mamaw said to me, “You all should get a Jersey cow.”
I adore Mamaw. She is one of my best friends. She is old and has life experience, wisdom, and loves me. She also loves the Lord. The Lord has used her to speak into my life many times. When Mamaw talks, I usually pay attention. Unless, of course, she is telling me lard will clog my arteries or that canola oil is good for me. You have to know when to listen to Mamaw and when to hand her a pound of raw butter.
Mamaw said we should get a Jersey cow. Our of nowhere. For no apparent reason. Hmmm?
#2 – John Seymour
I used to be addicted to John Seymour’s book, “The Self-Sufficient Life and How To Live It.” Before we lived in the country we owned this book and I read it often. I kept going back to the cow section. Apparently, (the late) John Seymour loved Jersey cows. He raves about them in the book.
This article is not cow v/s goat. For that go here. This article is also not cow v/s no cow. That is another story entirely. Today, we’re going to assume you’re already pro-cow and are determining which breed to bring home. Yea, a cow!
Why You Should Get A Jersey Cow:
- Good Temperament. If you want a companion who will also give you milk, the Jersey is the sure winner. Jerseys are characteristically friendly and docile. If you are looking for a pet you can milk, the Jersey will fit the bill. You will love her so much you will want her on your couch in the evenings. But that would probably be a bad idea.
- Easy to milk. Because of their gentle temperaments, Jerseys are very enjoyable in the milking parlor. If you are an expert milker, you will thoroughly enjoy your time in the milk barn. If you are a newbie milker, the Jersey will patiently stand tied up in the barn for an hour while you try to figure out how on earth you are supposed to get the milk out of the udder. Sweet, sweet Jerseys.
- Size. Jerseys are small in comparison with other dairy breeds. If you have small children or are just a little apprehensive about working with a 1200+ pound animal – a Jersey is a good solution.
- Milk quantity. A Jersey will usually produce 3-5 gallons of milk per day. This is a more manageable amount of milk than the 9+ gallons a day a Holstein can produce.
- Cooperative. I’m pretty sure you could lead one of my Jerseys to the moon if you were holding a bucket of feed. Jerseys are easy to work with. They run to the milk barn, they’ll follow you anywhere. They stay in a pasture, even if there is only one line of barbwire between them and freedom. Easy to lead, easy to keep in, easy to control.
- Orphan Adoption. I don’t know if it’s because they are so gentle, but our Jerseys are quick to adopt and mother anyone who looks needy. We have not had to tie them up, pen them or “encourage” them to except a new calf. Our Jersey is a natural mommy and it doesn’t seem to matter if the calf came from her loins, or the sale barn. She will adore it.
- Tasty meat. I have never eaten 100% Jersey meat – but I hear it’s the best beef there is. I have eaten 1/2 Jersey 1/2 Belted Galloway (our Jersey, Faith, was bred to a Belted Galloway when she arrived on our farm). The beef is off the charts awesome. It is juicy, tender and well marbled.
- Slow to grow. This is especially convenient if you are raising a Jersey steer (castrated bull-calf) for meat & want to keep him around for 9 months. There is nothing fun about a 700 pound bull and 4 small children on the same homestead. It’s a little scary. Jerseys grow at a slower rate, so the bull won’t get quite as huge quite as quickly.
- CREAM. This could be one of the main benefits of the Jersey cow. When John Seymour talks about cow breeds in his book, “The Self-Sufficient Life” he not only gushes over the Jersey he gushes about her milk. I’ll never forget when I read, “The Jersey produces the richest milk there is.”
If you look closely at this picture you can see the cream line. This is the line that divides the milk from the cream. As fresh milk sits in the refrigerator the cream will naturally rise to the top.
This is fresh milk from my Jersey cow, Faith. It is almost half cream. This is amazing. This is also an above average cream line for Faith. Even though this is more than we typically get, we do get a LOT of cream on a regular basis.
On the contrary, a Holstein has a very thin cream line on the top of their milk. Holsteins are famous for producing gallons and gallons of milk, not cream. This is why the Holstein milk is considered, “poor.”
Since most dairy farms have Holsteins, there is naturally going to be an abundance of milk and not a lot of cream. Perhaps this is why heavy whipping cream is so dang expensive at the grocery.
If you have a Jersey cow, your cup will overfloweth with cream.
Milk is great, but you can only do so much with milk…… to get the goods you want cream.
If you want: heavy whipping cream, half-n-half, butter, butter-milk, ice-cream, creme fraiche, or sour cream – you have to start with cream. You can’t get any of those things from milk. You need cream.
I have never had too much cream. There are times I am feeding the chickens, pigs and anyone else who would like some – the extra milk. This is not the case with cream. I have never (willingly) given my pigs cream (unless I was fighting mastitis and had to discard it all).
All our cream is put to use. Every drop. It is a treasure, a gift, it is like liquid gold around here.
The Challenges With Jersey Cows:
I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t mention some of the drawbacks of the Jersey breed.
There are 3 common Challenges with Jersey Cows that you may or may not ever face. I’m sure there could be other issues I am failing to mention. There are 3 I have dealt with and wish someone would have mentioned before I got my Jersey.
- Mastitis. There are things you can do to reduce your chances of dealing with mastitis. Go here to read about it. Mastitis is usually very treatable and the good news is that you may never deal with it.
- Ketosis. A Jersey cow can go into a state of ketosis if she does not get enough carbs in her diet. It is dangerous and can bring your cow down (literally). To read all about this you can go here.
- Milk Fever. Jerseys, especially over the age of 5, have a reputation for coming down with milk fever after calving.
Even now, knowing about mastitis, ketosis, and milk fever, I’d probably still get a Jersey. I believe the benefits of the Jersey breed out way the drawbacks.