Jersey cattle is a type of dairy breed which originated from Channel Island of Jersey. It is popular for its high butterfat content milk as well as low maintenance costs.
As the name implies, the Jersey cattle breed was initially bred on the Island of Jersey, a small British island in the English Channel off the coast of France. The Jersey breed is considered one of the oldest dairy breed. It has been reported by authorities as being purebred for nearly six centuries.
In 1789, the imports of foreign cattle into Jersey were strictly forbidden by law. The purpose of this is to maintain the purity of the Jersey breed, although the exports of cattle and semen have been an important economic resource of the island. Another reason to impose the restriction on the import of other cattle into Jersey was to prevent a collapse in the export price. The United Kingdom levied no import duty if the cattle is being imported from Jersey. Hence, in order to circumvent the tariff on French cattle, the Jersey cattle were being shipped from France to Jersey and then to England. Due to the increase of supply of cattle, sometimes of inferior quality, this would caused the price of Jersey cattle to go down as well as damaging its reputation. The import ban was crucial to stabilised the price and enabled a more scientifically controlled programme of breeding to be undertaken.
Characteristics of Jersey Cows
They are typically light brown in colour. This can range from almost grey to dull black, which is known as Mulberry.
They also have white patches which may cover much of the animal.
Jersey has hard black feet are much less prone to lameness.
Jerseys are relatively small in size. They normally weigh 400 - 500 kilograms.
A Profitable Product
Consumers nowadays are emphasising on quality. They are looking for a glass of milk packed with nutrients, more choices in quality of cheeses and other dairy products. Consumers are also aware and attending to the health and conservation of our environment and natural resources.
Jersey cattle are able to fulfil all those needs. They naturally produce a very high quality of milk. Compared to other average milk, Jersey milk contains 15% - 20% more protein, 15% - 18% more calcium, 10% to 12% more phosphorous and also higher levels of essential vitamin, B12.
Compared to other average milk, Jersey milk is able to help increase the product yields and manufacturing plant efficiency. For cheesemakers, they make 25% more cheese from Jersey milk whereas for buttermakers, they are able to increase their yield by over 30%, both at a lower cost per weight of product.
A scientific, peer-reviewed life-cycle assessment published in the Journal of Dairy Science (2012) has shown that in order for Holsteins and Jerseys to produce same amount of protein, milkfat and other types of solids, Jerseys require 32% less water, 11% less land, produces less waste and uses less fossil fuel with a 20% reduction in total carbon footprint. For the Jersey to produce 500,000 metric tonnes of cheese, the reduction of carbon footprint is equal to approximately taking 443,900 cars off the road.
The reasons above showed that it is very profitable to use Jersey as the breed to build a dairy business as it contains more of the milk's most valuable components, which are fats and protein. Hence, the farmers get paid more money for the Jersey milk.
A Profitable Producer
A U.S Jersey produces, on average, more than 17 times its body weight in milk for each lactation. The main reason for Jersey productivity is that while Jersey tip the scales at roughly 75% of Holstein's body weight, they eat 80% of the intake of Holsteins.
For example, for the same amount of feed, you are able to produce 138kg of cheese from Holsteins whereas you are able to produce 169kg of cheese from Jersey. Therefore, if you put that same amount of feed through Jersey, you are able to increase your income by 22%.
Advantages That Go To The Bottom Line
Jersey cow is an excellent choice to run a successful dairy farm business.
Jerseys are able to adapt to pretty much any management system that has been designed for dairying.
They thrive in confinement barns and dry lot operations, in large herds and small ones.
They also have the ability to adapt to different feeding systems such as TMR programs or management-intensive grazing.
There are no climatic or geographic barriers for Jerseys. They are favoured in the subtropic region of the Deep South as well as across the arid climes of the United States.
Jerseys mature very quickly. When a dairy heifer matures earlier, she can be bred earlier, thus entering milking herd sooner. Hence, Jerseys are quicker to generate income for a dairy producer.
Jerseys are also known for their ease of calving. Less than 1% of Jersey heifers experience problems with their first calf, whereas for Holsteins, 8% of them have difficulty calving requiring assistance.
Jerseys return to their heat cycle sooner and, just as they did as heifers, show estrus more vigorously and remain in heat longer.
Jerseys breed back earlier with fewer services per conception, and had the highest first-breeding conception rate, in national studies published by the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB).
Reproduction impacts the bottom line in significant areas such as having more calves to sell or grow. It is hard to overstate the importance of Jersey's reproductive advantages towards the bottom line. In general, having more fresh cows means have more milk.
Survival And Productive Herd Life
According to National Dairy Herd Information (NDHIA) data published by the CDBD, Jersey cows have the highest rate of staying in production as well as the lowest rate of removal. The Jersey breed consistently rank first compared to other breeds. The differences in reproductive performance, lower incidence of clinical mastitis, less disease and injury, all adds up to significant lower rate of exiting the herd. Therefore, not only do Jerseys pay back the investments earlier, they also do so longer, thus adding to profitability.
Transitioning To Jersey Genetics In Commercial Herds Commercial producers are choosing Jerseys in increasing numbers due to the numerous benefits such as easier calving, healthier, breed back earlier, producing higher quality products. In order to get those results and also to protect the considerable investment they made in raising replacement heifers, many producers in the U.S are now breeding the cows and heifers they now own to high genetic merit U.S. Registered Jersey™ bulls.