The Jersey is an old heritage breed. In fact it is the oldest dairy breed ever recorded in history, their ancestory dating back to 700 A.D. But it wasn’t until 1700 that they were first recognized as a purebred.
Jerseys originated on the Isle of Jersey (hence the name) which is located 100 miles south of Britain along the coast of France. Covering only 45 miles, it is the largest of the Channel Islands honey-combed with lush valleys, stone hedges and fields. To maintain purity in the breed’s genetics, the Isle banned cattle imports and for almost 200 years they isolated the Jersey from outside influence.
Because of her small size, the Jersey is the perfect family cow. Cows range in weight from 800-1200 pounds but studies have proven that despite her size she is more effecient at converting food into milk than more popular breeds. Her small stature – 48″, makes handling easier.
Jerseys are excellant foragers and do well on limited pasture. Their superior grazing ability allows them to graze a brushy field other breeds would sneeze at, and still get enough to eat.
Generally speaking, the Jersey is a very docile, inquisitive, and attractive breed making her the most sought after especially with first time cow farmers. Her colors are unique and varied: from Silver, Cream, and Dun, to Fawn, Mousse, Mulberry and Pinto. Purebred Jerseys all have a white band around a black nose, a dark switch (tail) and black hooves.
Rich and creamy, Jersey milk contains the highest percentage of butter fat, 4.9-5.5%. Studies have also shown that many Jerseys produce A2 beta casein proteins in their milk. Those who have allergies and lactose intolerance find that switching to raw, A2 milk helps improve their digestive issues.