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One of the most productive dairy breeds, taking into account the feed consumed for the production of 1 liter, is the old island Jersey breed of cows. Jerseys are very economical to maintain and would be ideal for keeping in private estates, if not for some of their features that need to be considered. These features are a direct consequence of their origin.
History of the breed
There are no written sources from which cattle appeared on the island of Jersey. Presumably, the Normans brought cows there during their heyday. Most likely, originally Norman cattle interbred with British. Jersey cows were first mentioned as a breed in 1700. At the end of the 18th century, the island's authorities banned the crossing of Jerseys with other breeds of cattle. Jersey cattle were kept clean until 2008.
Like any island population of large mammals, Jersey cattle began to shrink after entering the island. Today jersey is considered one of the smallest cattle breeds.
Description of the Jersey breed of cows
Jersey from the very beginning was formed as a dairy breed of cows. The conditions of the island and the limited food supply left no other options. After calving, the farmers immediately slaughtered the calves so as not to feed the "parasites", but to take milk for themselves.
Before the zoo, calves were slaughtered and buried.
Due to the strict dairy orientation, the Jersey breed of cows today has a very low slaughter yield of meat. Even in the photo of the bull above, it is noticeable that Jersey bulls do not have special muscles.
The Jersey cow is 125 - 130 cm tall. On plentiful forage it often grows the usual "cow" height of 140 - 145 cm. The average weight of cows is 400 - 500 kg, bulls - 540 - 820 kg. The upper values are hardly possible for an animal 130 cm tall.
Pictured is the original size of the Jersey cattle.
Calves weigh 26 kg at birth. Jersey grows quickly and at 7 months lag behind the calf of Holstein cattle by only 3 kg. For comparison: a Jersey at 7 months weighs 102.8 kg; Holsteiner 105.5 kg. But Holstein cattle must grow up to 150 - 160 cm!
Due to inbreeding, the jerseys' backbone is graceful and light. A distinctive feature of these cows is large eyes with superciliary arches on a small head. The facial part of the skull is shortened.
Important! If the jersey has a rough head, it means that the cow is not purebred.
Most likely, there is a Holstein breed in the family of this cow. This is the most common type of interbreeding.
The body is flat with a deep chest. The back is straight, without depressions. But in this breed, a bowed back is allowed. The udder is bowl-shaped.
The color of modern jerseys is the so-called "deer": pale brown of any shade.
Also, young cows often have a bright red color, but over time they turn into a standard "deer" color.
Jerseys productive features
The dairy performance of Jersey cows is higher than that of other dairy breeds. The average milk yield of Jerseys during lactation is 3000 - 3500 liters. With properly organized feeding and care in the UK, Jerseys can produce 5000 liters of milk per year. The record milk yield in this country is 9000 liters.
Jersey milk is highly prized in the UK for its high fat, protein and calcium content. But contrary to Russian-language advertising, the fat content of milk from jerseys is not 6 - 8%, but only 4.85%. But even this is 25% higher than the fat content in the "average" milk. Protein in jerseys milk is also 18% higher than in “average” milk - 3.95%. Calcium is more by a quarter. Accordingly, Jerseys milk is much more useful and beneficial than milk from other breeds. Even with relatively small milk yields.
In addition, the jersey has a good response to feed. A Jersey cow only needs 0.8 feed to produce 1 liter of milk. units.
Pros of the Jersey cow
Any breed has advantages and disadvantages. For Russia, the jersey can be difficult to maintain due to the peculiarities of breeding. But a large number of the breed's advantages outweigh the cons:
- milk is rich in nutrients;
- to obtain 1 liter of milk, less feed is required than for other cattle breeds;
- productive durability;
- early maturity. Many Jersey cows give birth to their first calf at 19 months of age;
- easy and fast calving. Because of this quality, Jerseys are often crossed with other breeds of cows;
- Strong hooves, so jerseys are less prone to lameness;
- fewer mastitis diseases than other breeds;
- docile and calm character.
The latter is especially important in machine milking, as a cowsome cow often breaks the milking machines and kicks them off.
Important! If Jersey cows are famous for their docile disposition, then bulls, on the contrary, have a very vicious character.
The disadvantages of jerseys include weak resistance to diseases and an increased need for microelements. Both are due to the fact that the breed was bred on a small island. Due to inbreeding and the lack of the need to fight diseases, the selection of jerseys according to the strength of immunity did not go.
Features of feeding Jersey cows
On the island, livestock were often fed with seaweed, plus the island land is saturated with trace elements found in the ocean water. The ingress of these trace elements to the island occurs during storms and when seawater seeps into the base of the island. Over the millennia, the earth has been saturated with sea water through and through, even if at first glance it seems that this is not so.
On a note! The diet should have a high iodine content.
The need for jerseys in iodine is due precisely to eating algae washed ashore and feed grown on the sea coast.
Mini farm with dwarf cows
Some features of the breeding of Jersey cows
Although Jersey cattle are often blended with other breeds to improve performance, the bull is usually the producer of the Jersey cattle. Most Jersey cows are still significantly smaller than other dairy breeds. If the jersey is covered with a large bull, it may have problems with calving due to the oversized calf. On the other hand, you can use a jersey that has grown up on mainland forages. But only on condition that its size corresponds to the size of a bull.
Jersey cow owner reviews
Victor Antonov, p. Beshenkovichi
I bought a pair of Jersey cows for my cows, I didn’t think about who I’m going to cover. It turned out to be very difficult to find a Jersey bull. And they need to calve in order to give milk. Well, they advised a medium-sized Ayrshire bull. Covered. Calved well. Now I am raising one Jersey-Ayrshire cross. I wonder what happens. The jerseys themselves are indeed milk yield, but the fat content of the milk is lower than the advertised 6%.
Alexey Lukyanov, p. Novoselytskoe
We started our business with traditional black and white cattle. Slowly they were looking for the most dairy breed. Unfortunately, you don't really have to trust advertising. In addition to Holstein, we tried Ayrshire. And recently they took from the breeding farm a dozen Jersey dogs with a bull. Let's try the bull again on airshirks and holsteins. Maybe the hybrids will be quite successful both in terms of milk and meat. We were immediately warned that it is not profitable to raise Jersey gobies even for meat. The lethal output is too small. So either we will sell the bulls right away, or we will cover the queens with an Ayrshire bull. For milk, jersey is really profitable. We will keep the purebred heifers for now.
Jersey cattle in Russian conditions can be very profitable in the south, since the breed is quite thermophilic. This breed is also suitable for the most arid regions of Russia, as it can do with a minimum of feed. In the north, these cattle will have to build insulated cowsheds, which will immediately increase the cost of keeping a dairy herd. However, in the north, Jersey cattle may well be replaced by the primordially Russian Red-Gorbatov breed.