The Jersey cattle breed are a small sized cattle bred mainly for their production of dairy milk. The breed was originally found on the largest island among the Channel Islands of California known as Jersey.
Traditionally the Jersey cattle breed have been popularly bred for the high content of butterfat found in its milk consisting of 4.8 percent butterfat and 4.9 percent protein value, low maintenance cost resulting from the breeds small size and their sociable temperament.
The typical Jersey cow can be found having an average weight of between 880 to 1,100 pounds or 400 to 500 kilograms with the bulls ranging from 1200 to 1800 pounds or 540 to 820 kilograms in weight earning the breed widespread popularity among ranchers and cattle men for their economic value.
This resulted in from the ability to transport herds consisting of a much larger number of milking cows due to the breeds small size and low body weight, superior grazing ability as the Jersey breed has been found to thrive on locally produced food and their cost effective maintenance.
The Jersey cow additionally has been a preferable breed with its high fertility rate, ease in calving with a relatively low rate of dystocia. One of the favorable crossbreeding traits when bred with beef cattle and even other dairy breeds has been found in the breed’s ability to produce hybrids recognizing less difficulty during calving.
Jersey bulls when castrated can be effectively trained as oxen where they are used for plowing, transport, pulling carts, wagons and even riding due to the breed’s gentle nature and small size.
The Jersey oxen although highly popular among teamsters lack the strength often possessed by larger cattle breeds and can be highly unflavored among the more competitive cattle drivers.
The Jersey cattle were successfully imported into the United Kingdom in small herds by several aristocratic landowners who were impressed by the breed’s submissive temperament, small size, attractive features and seemingly curious nature where they were used as ornaments for the beautification of several owned landscape parks.
The traditional Jersey cattle breed will often appear having a variety of shades of brown or fawn color within its coat, occasionally with a lightly shade of tan to near black. Purebred jerseys have been known to possess a distinctive lighter colored band around the muzzle with a dark shade of color at the end of the tail and around the hooves.
The Jersey cattle breed due its docile and calm demeanor have been high recommended for first time cattle ranchers and breeders or cattle men with less than adequate pasture lands for grazing.
However the breed has been known to be susceptible to post-parturient hypocalcaemia otherwise commonly known as milk fever observed in feeble calves and domestic breeds thus requiring much needed attention during severely colder weather conditions than the typical cattle breeds.
The Jersey cattle breed having acquired its name from its origin were descendants from cattle breeds imported from the Normandy Regions recognizing the breed first recorded during the 1700s as a separate cattle breed where Jersey bred cows were provided as gifts during selective inter island marriages between residents of Jersey and Guernsey islands.
This was followed by the Jersey breed isolated entirely from outside influence for over 200 years between 1789 to 2008.
The ban was effectively removed in July 2008 allowing the importation go bull semen from a variety of cattle breeds.
During this period as a precautionary measure to maintain the purity of the Jersey cattle breed it was forbidden to import foreign cattle into the island go Jersey. However exportation of both semen and cattle were still maintained as a contributing factor to the economic resource of Jersey Island.
The ban on cattle imports was lifted in 1789 in the hopes to maintain the export value of the Jersey cattle breed as the United Kingdom did not observe cattle imported from Jersey as a taxable livestock which resulted in the Jersey breed being first exported to France and then to the United Kingdom in order to avoid paying the required tariff in French Cattle.
The abundance in supply of cattle often comprising of inferior breeds saw a drastic depreciation in the economic value of the Jersey cattle breeds which was the main deciding factor for the establishment of the recognized ban on cattle imports in 1789.
The Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society was founded in 1833 through the work of Sir John Le Couteur after completing his study on selective breeding which earned him his place at the Royal Society.
During the Annual General Meeting of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society it was decided that a herd-book be opened for the active registration and recording of pureblood Jersey bulls, cows and heifers. At the Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society organized show for Herd-Book cattle stock in 1869 prizes were awarded to selective Jersey cattle for the first time.
It was discovered in February 2010 that semen used from non-purebred Jersey bulls inspire of the established Jersey laws were used to impregnate more than 100 Jersey cows resulting in the offspring not being suitable to be recorded within the Jersey Herd-Book
The Jersey breed during this period was found to display a much wider variety in its coat color often appearing mulberry, white, and dark brown than the cattle breeds found today.
However many cattle men preferred the Jersey cattle with their honey-brown coats which resulted in the genetic development of the breed having this particular color trait.
Over a thousand Jersey cows were exported by way of the United Kingdom in 1860 at an average price of 16 pounds per head of cattle. In 1910 the number of cattle exported to the United States of America annually was recorded at over thirteen hundred allowing the Jersey cattle breed to be actively recognized as the fastest growing breed of dairy cattle worldwide.
The American Jersey Cattle Club was founded in 1868 and in 1880 the Club was formed into a legal corporation under a charter grant act passed during the General Assembly on April 19th for the sole purpose of improving the Jersey cattle breed within the United States of America.
The American Jersey Cattle Club was reincorporated on the first of July 1994 in the state of Ohio amending its name to the American Jersey Cattle Association.
Cattleman and Ranchers interested in purchasing Jersey cattle breeds can purchase their seed stock through a number of farms including: