Jersey is a breed of small dairy cattle. Originally bred in the
Channel Island of Jersey, the breed is popular for the high butterfat
content of its milk and the lower maintenance costs attending its
lower bodyweight, as well as its genial disposition. The
Jersey is one
Channel Island cattle
Channel Island cattle breeds, the others being the Alderney
– now extinct – and the Guernsey.
Jersey cow ranges from only 400–500 kilograms
(880–1,100 lb). The main factor contributing to the popularity
of the breed has been their greater economy of production, due to:
The ability to carry a larger number of effective milking cows per
unit area due to lower body weight, hence lower maintenance
requirements, and superior grazing ability
Calving ease and a relatively lower rate of dystocia, leading to their
popularity in crossbreeding with other dairy and even beef breeds to
reduce calving related injuries.
High butterfat conditions, 4.84% butterfat and 3.95% protein, and the
ability to thrive on locally produced food. Bulls are also small,
ranging from 540 to 820 kg (1200 to 1800 pounds), and are
Castrated males can be trained into fine oxen which, due to their
small size and gentle nature, make them popular with young teamsters.
Jersey oxen are not as strong as larger breeds however and are
generally out of favour among competitive teamsters.
Due to the small size, docile and inquisitive character and attractive
features of the
Jersey cow, small herds were imported into England by
aristocratic landowners as adornment for aesthetically landscaped
Jerseys come in all shades of brown, from light tan to almost black.
They are frequently fawn in colour. All purebred Jerseys have a
lighter band around their muzzle, a dark switch (long hair on the end
of the tail), and black hooves, although in recent years colour
regulations have been relaxed to allow a broadening of the gene pool.
The cows are calm and docile animals, but tend to be a little more
nervous than other dairy cow breeds. The cows are also highly
recommended cows for first time owners and marginal pasture. Jersey
bulls are another matter. While all dairy bulls are considered
Jersey bulls are considered by many to be the least
docile of the dairy breeds.
Jersey cattle have a greater tendency towards post-parturient
hypocalcaemia (or "milk fever") in dams, and tend to have frail calves
that require more attentive management in cold weather than other
dairy breeds due to their smaller body size (that increases effective
surface area for heat loss).
1 History of the breed
3 See also
5 External links
History of the breed
Jersey cattle being judged at a show in Jersey, home of the breed
As its name implies, the
Jersey was bred on the British Channel Island
of Jersey. It apparently descended from cattle stock brought over from
the nearby Norman mainland, and was first recorded as a separate breed
The breed was isolated from outside influence for over two hundred
years, from 1789 to 2008.
Before 1789 cows would be given as dowry for inter-island marriages
Jersey and Guernsey. This was, however, not widespread.
In 1789, imports of foreign cattle into
Jersey were forbidden by law
to maintain the purity of the breed, although exports of cattle and
semen have been an important economic resource for the island. The
restriction on the import of cattle was initially introduced in 1789
to prevent a collapse in the export price. The United Kingdom levied
no import duty on cattle imported from Jersey.
Cattle were being
shipped from France to
Jersey and then being shipped onward to England
to circumvent the tariff on French cattle. The increase in the supply
of cattle, sometimes of inferior quality, was bringing the price down
and damaging the reputation of
Jersey cattle. The import ban
stabilised the price and enabled a more scientifically controlled
programme of breeding to be undertaken.
Jerseys are well known as curious and gentle cattle
Sir John Le Couteur
Sir John Le Couteur studied selective breeding and became a Fellow of
Royal Society - his work led to the establishment of the Royal
Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society in 1833. At that time,
the breed displayed greater variation than it does today with white,
dark brown and mulberry beasts. However, since the honey-brown cows
sold best the breed was developed accordingly. In 1860 1,138 cows were
exported via England, the average price being £16 per head. By 1910
over a thousand head were exported annually to the United States
alone. It is now the fastest growing dairy breed in the world[citation
On 1866, at the Annual General Meeting of the Royal Jersey
Agricultural and Horticultural Society, H.G. Shepard notes in his
history that "it was resolved - on the motion of Col. Le Couteur,
that the Hon. Secretary be hereby invited to open and to carry on a
"herd book" in which the pedigree of bulls, cows and heifers shall be
entered for reference to all the members of the Society." In 1869 for
the first time prizes were awarded at the Society's Shows for Herd
Book Stock Cattle.
The States of
Jersey took a census of stock in 1866, and
supported 12,037 head of cattle, of which 611 were bulls, and no fewer
than 6,322 pigs and 517 sheep. This was before the motor age and 3,227
horses were kept,
Saint Helier being responsible for 888.
In July 2008, the States of
Jersey took the historic step of ending
the ban on imports, and allowing the import of bull semen from any
breed of cattle, although only semen that is genetically pure will
enable the resultant progeny to be entered in the
Jersey Herd Book.
For many decades each of the 12 parishes in
Jersey would hold cattle
shows in the Spring, Summer and Autumn of every year; followed in turn
by the main shows held by the Royal
Jersey Agricultural &
Horticultural Society where the best of the parish shows would
compete. It was said that the colour of the rosette secured by a
prize-winning cow determined its export value. Today the RJAHS holds
two shows a year where usually 5 or 6 of the remaining 23 herds will
compete against each other for the top prizes. A
Jersey cattle show is
also held in Jersey, by The West Show Association.
In February 2010, it was revealed that semen from a non-pure breed
Jersey bull had been imported into the island despite strict laws and
checks, and 100 cows have been impregnated with the semen. Their
offspring will not be recorded in the
Jersey herd book.
Jersey cattle were exported to the United States from about 1850. A
breed society, the American
Cattle Club, was formed in 1868. In
the USA, a distinction is sometimes made between the "American
Jersey", which is comparatively coarse and large and has been
selectively bred mainly for milk yield, and the original or "Island"
type;:212 the latter may also be called "Miniature Jersey".
Sculpture by John McKenna, unveiled in 2001 and on display at West's
Center, St Helier
Brown Bessie, the famous champion butter cow of the Chicago World's
Fair dairy test, averaged over 18 kg (40 pounds) of milk a day
for five months, and made 1.3 kg ( 3Lb ) of butter a day.
Huronia Centurion Veronica 20J EX-97% is a well known show cow of the
Jersey breed. In 2003 she was sold for $85,000 at public
auction. She was the 2006 World
Dairy Expo Supreme
Champion. She has also been named the All-American Grand Champion
Mainstream Barkley Jubilee holds the top two records for milk
production for a
Jersey cow. She produced 49,250 lbs of milk
after calving at 3 years and 6 months of age, and 55,590 lbs
after calving at 4 years and 8 months old.
Lily Flagg, raised in Northeast Huntsville, Alabama, champion
butterfat and milk producer of 1892. She produced a record 1047
pounds, 3/4 ounces of butter as well as 11,339 pounds of milk. Her
owner threw a locally famous high-class party in her honour, going so
far as to paint his house "butter yellow" for the occasion. She
was a "Cow worth Kissing", her value to the community was so high.
Duncan Belle, sired by Highland Magic Duncan, was named the winner of
the 2000 Great Cow Contest. This came after she was named the
Reserve Grand Champion of the All-American show in 1993. She was
also named All-Canadian cow between 1991 and 1993.
List of cattle breeds
^ Rex Paterson in
Jersey Cattle, ed. Boston, 1954, pp81-95
^ "Breeds of
Cattle — Breeds of Livestock,
Department of Animal Science". www.ansi.okstate.edu. Retrieved 31
Jersey Cattle, Eric James Boston. 1954.
^ One Hundred Years of the Royal
Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural
Society 1833-1933. Compiled from the Society's Records, by H.G.
Cattle Show & Family Day Out - The West Show, Jersey".
Westshow.org.je. 8 July 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
^ "Non-pure bull semen imported into Jersey". BBC News. 17 February
2010. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
^ Valerie Porter, Lawrence Alderson, Stephen J.G. Hall, D. Phillip
Sponenberg (2016). Mason's World Encyclopedia of
Livestock Breeds and
Breeding (sixth edition). Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 9781780647944.
Jersey Breed History. American Miniature
& Association. Accessed January 2018.
^ History of the magnificent
Jersey breed. Miniature
Jersey Herd Book.
Accessed January 2018.
^ "The Book of the Fair : Chapter the Nineteenth: The Live-Stock
Department (Image)/ Paul V. Galvin Digital History Collection".
Columbus.gl.iit.edu. 26 August 1998. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
^ "Show Summaries 2006". World
Dairy Expo. Retrieved 6 March
Dairy Cow Daily - Huronia Centurion Veronica 20J".
www.dairycowdaily.com. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
^ Lucindaville (17 April 2010). "Cookbook Of The Day: Huntsville
Heritage Cookbook". Cookbookoftheday.blogspot.com. Retrieved 25
^ "Huntsville History Comes Alive". Huntsville.about.com. 9 April
2012. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
^ Jim Parker (16 June 2014). "Three Cheers for
Lily Flagg / Shane
Adkins". Retrieved 31 March 2018 – via YouTube.
^ a b "Rapid Bay Jerseys". www.rapidbay.ca. Retrieved 6 March
^ Sydney L. Spahr, George E. Opperman (1995). The
Dairy Cow Today:
U.S. Trends, Breeding, and Progress Since 1980. USA: Hoard's Dairyman.
Balleine's History of Jersey, Marguerite Syvret and Joan Stevens
(1998) ISBN 1-86077-065-7
Butterfat in Relation to the
Jersey Breed, Boston, E.J. and H.L. Webb,
A Short History on the Origins of
Jersey Cattle., Boston Eric, WJCB
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Jersey Breeders Society
Extract from One Hundred Years of the Royal
Society by H.G. Shepard
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