Jersey Coloring

When a Jersey calf is born, (s)he has solid brown coloring (almost always very close to the shade of brown in the photos below) with no white ring around the nose or eyes and no black markings.



The exception – a broken colored calf with pure white as part of her coloring will be born with the white markings on her body and tail. She, like all purebred Jersey calves, will develop white and black shadings around her hooves and eyes and her brown coloring will change a bit in color as she ages.


Coloring develops slowly over the first few months as the calf ages:


By weaning age, she should have the typical Jersey markings. Most have white around the nose and eyes, a black mask on the face (tends to show up on older heifers), a white underbelly, and some markings on their legs (black above the toes, sometimes black along the knees):




Sometimes a cow’s color changes significantly as she ages, as she sheds or grows a winter coat, and around calving time.


JadeLadyfairHeifer to Cow changes in color
Heifer (on left) as a cow (on right)


Below are photos of one cow illustrating how she changes colors over time:



SUMMER: June44

FALL: DSC05463

WINTER (also happens to be just before she calved): Rosebud

AFTER CALVING: Sometimes, around the time a cow calves and for a month or two after she has calved, a cow will “lose” the white rings around her nose and eyes. In the photos below, notice Rosebud has no rings around her eyes and the ring around her nose looks like she got smudged with ash! RosebudNose1 RosebudNose2 RosebudNose3

Don’t worry, in a couple months, it’ll fade back to white!RbudclearSMALL


BROKEN COLORED (Jersey coloring with white splotches)
“CHICKENFOOT” coloring looks like a chicken has walked all over the cow. Tends to be most noticeable in summertime. <= For a great variety of Jersey coloring from some of the best Jerseys of all time!


3 thoughts on “Jersey Coloring

  1. When we visited Jersey, we were told the white markings were due to the fact that even if purebred, there is somehow some Guernsey blood in there from way back when, even centuries ago. I don’t know if it is true, but thats what they believed on the island. Me personally, I like some white markings on a Jersey.


  2. Charity

    Very interesting – I had never seen the “chickenfoot” coloring before. Can you tell me if the broken coloring pattern is recessive or dominant? I assume it’s the same gene that gives Guernseys their pattern? I ask because we had a GuernseyXJersey bull, who had a lot of white markings (his mother, the Jersey, had none). We’ve bred him to two different Jerseys, none of whom have white patches, and all his calves have had traditional Jersey coloration, and no white patches. Except for the time he bred a white-faced (AngusXHereford) beef cow – that calf had a coat just like a Guernsey. We’d like a Jersey calf with the broken color pattern, but I don’t know if we’re going to get one out of him :).


    1. I don’t know if the broken color is recessive/dominant, but I do know there are certain bulls/cows that tend to give their coloring to their offspring. For example, Master C Tops, Pleasant Nook F Prize Circus, and Sooner/Beretta.

      In the Jersey show world and purebred world, the broken coloring is …. not very desireable. So, some breed away from it, making it less likely to be found.


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