Entry Option 2: Why Jerseys?

Objective:

Why Jerseys? Why that beautiful brown-eyed cow?

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Entries:

Youth entry by Mikayla L. –

            I grew up on a small family dairy farm in Southwest Idaho. My great-grandfather moved the family here from Nebraska in 1942, and they started dairy farming in 1946 with a herd made up entirely of Guernsey cattle. In January of 1957, they purchased a new dairy farm, and it came with Holstein cattle. In 1991, my father brought the first Jersey cow onto the property. Her name was Cream Creek Sooner Betty. After Betty arrived, we became hooked on Jerseys. My father gave me my first Jersey calf when I was just five years old. Her name was Chocolate, and I learned how to show dairy cattle with her. I enjoy showing in open class at the Western Idaho Fair every year with my family. I also have been in the 4-H dairy project for nine years. I have always loved Jerseys over any other breed. I think the beautiful Jersey cows are the best breed because of their amazing dispositions, fantastic milk quality, and great efficiency.

Jersey cattle are very well known for their fantastic dispositions. I love being around them because they’re always extremely nice and very gentle. I have never had aggression issues with a Jersey, which is why I believe they are the best breed for young children to be around. I know I greatly appreciated how gentle my first heifer was. Also they are the perfect size. They’re small enough for a five year old to handle. I think that’s pretty impressive. Whenever I have new members in my 4-H club’s dairy project, I start them out on a Jersey to practice showing or to learn how to show.

Another trait that Jerseys are known for is fantastic milk quality. Jersey milk contains a high level of butterfat, so it is very valuable. It makes the richest, best tasting dairy products, and is in high demand. The most common breed, Holsteins, cannot even compete when it comes to the awesome quality of Jersey milk. Jerseys can be utilized for commercial and smaller dairy operations alike.

Jersey cattle are also known for their extraordinary efficiency. Jerseys produce more milk on less feed than any other breed. They also produce more milk for their body weight compared to any other breed. They have great longevity as well, and can produce for a very long time. My father’s show cow, Lincrest D Betty lived to be nineteen years and nine months old. My cow, Lincrest Ace Ellissa is seven years old, and in her fifth lactation. She’s produced 80,000 pounds in her lifetime so far, and is predicted to produce 22,000 pounds of milk in this lactation.

Jersey cattle are my most desired breed because they have amazing dispositions, fantastic milk quality, and great efficiency. I think they will eventually become pretty popular within the commercial dairy industry and will hold up to production expectations. I enjoy having Jerseys a lot. They’re a great breed all around, and I’d definitely recommend them to any dairy farmer who wants to increase milk production, quality, and value.

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Entry by Sarrin M. –

I have been considering purchasing a dairy cow for some time and my first choice has always been Jerseys. The main reason for this consideration is that I cannot make butter from the milk from my dairy goats and I know Jerseys are known for high butterfat, a plus when it comes to making butter! I want to get our farm to be more self-sufficient and to produce more natural and healthy food for ourselves. I also love the Jersey breed because they are smaller and easier to manage that larger dairy breeds. Jerseys I understand are more efficient at converting food to milk. Jerseys are also known for being gentle and easy going. Plus, one cannot possibly argue with those beautiful Bambi faces and brown eyes!

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Entry by Mackenzie M. –

My third son recently asked me, “Why is milk so good?”  And it’s a good question, really.  How can grass and grain be transformed, so effortlessly from our point of view, into sweet, creamy bliss in our fridge?  What a rich blessing!
I have six children, one daughter and five sons, and as you can imagine we use a lot of milk.  It’s a necessity with pancakes (my oldest son claims it as the only beverage that can ‘unclog’ his throat).  My morning coffee is joyless with some cream.  It makes the breakfast oatmeal a perfect start to the work ahead.  Not to mention wonders like butter, ice cream, and my personal favorite, mascarpone!  My heart’s desire is to be able to give my children as much milk to drink that they want, that’s also healthy and good for them.
This past summer we finally realized our dream of moving from a vintage home in town to a homestead in the country.  Before I’d even packed the last box, we had a copy of Keeping a Family Cow, which excited my children at least as much as it did me.  Honestly, a jersey seemed an obvious choice for us.  What do I value in a cow?  We’re not interested in record-breaking milk production — we don’t need to run a dairy or have a nurse cow.  We want a cow to belong, to be a part of us, to give us the sweetest milk and deep joy when we watch her in our pasture.  After considering many breeds, I settled on the Jersey for their milk quality, size, beauty, and history.
We value quality over quantity when it comes to milk.  It’s very important to us that we be able to make butter, have ample cream, and have milk to drink that tastes delicious.  It’s true that some breeds of cows may produce more pounds of milk a year, but to us the Jersey milk we’ve had is so incredibly delicious there’s no reason to look elsewhere.  The high fat content is especially attractive, making the milk perfect for butter, wonderful for coffee, and so beneficial to growing children.  One Jersey cow would amply provide for all our family’s dairy needs!
The size of the Jersey is a very important aspect to our family.  In the first place, since our children take a large role in helping on our homestead, it’s essential that they feel confident around the animals.  A well-trained Jersey will not be so big as to terrify a ten or eleven-year-old child who is charged with feeding, or even milking, her.  Another positive aspect of their relatively compact size is that they have lower feed maintenance requirements than larger, higher producing cows.  For a small homestead, and since we plan on only one cow, it makes sense to choose a breed on the smaller end of the scale.
Though for many families a cow’s looks may not come into consideration, we must admit that the golden brown Jersey has won our hearts.  There’s something so classic, so magical, about their calm faces and delicate white markings.  We have some very large windows across the front of our house that look toward our pasture, and to be able to look out all day and see the lovely form of that iconic cow would be an absolute treasure.  It was enjoyable to discover recently that the Jersey was used as a pasture ornament in aristocratic England.  Clearly we are not alone in finding the Jersey irresistibly lovely!
The history of the Jersey cow is quite remarkable, and it’s amazing how, long before our modern understanding of genetics and science, people took steps to isolate and protect the breed, realizing its significance and value.  There’s something so special to know that the cow eating the grass from your pasture could trace her ancestry farther back that many of us people, and all to pure Jerseys!  It’s not hard to understand why those back in the 1700s recognized the worth of the Jersey.  They had found a domestic animal who could provide copious nutrition to a family, yet still be able to thrive in smaller areas, all the while being relatively easy for even beginners to keep.  What an absolute gold mine!
We can learn many things from this placid and lovely cow.  Think of her there, calm and elegant, content all day to eat grass from a green field.  Pleased to give her bounty to those who care for her, she mothers in a way not only her cow, but also the children who play near her pasture.  When we were first moving to the country and I was Jersey-dreaming my husband told me about land reformers in England in the late 1800s whose slogan was “Three acres and a cow.”  In it is contained the idea that the beginnings of self-sufficiency and good nutrition are found in a cow, and the picture of a lovely jersey on a family homestead so perfectly captures this idea in both our minds and our hearts.

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Entry by Brenda G. –

My interest in Jersey cattle sparked at a very young age. My Mother was born in 1945. She has shared many stories about her childhood on a farm with my sister and I. Mom grew up on the back of a big black Morgan horse named Bonnie. She and her parents, and her family lived in a remote area near Peck, ID.  It was a place where all of the local farmers knew each other, and there were only 20 children in the school.
My grandparents kept horses, mules, and cattle. They had all sorts of crossbred cattle, but they kept Jersey and Jersey cross cows for their home milk supply. They knew that Jerseys have superior milk quality.
My Mom and her older brother used to visit the neighbors, but later, they secretly complained about the “Holstein milk”. They didn’t like the flavor of the milk because they were used to Jersey milk.
When I was a child, my Mother always pointed out the Jersey cows at the fair. She told us how beautiful she thought they were.  I thought so too, and I still think they are the most beautiful cattle. (My family has owned and raised Arabian horses for 35+ years, so we appreciate the beauty of Jersey cattle – the large dark eyes, and the finely shaped head.)
I am now 42 years old, and have raised Nubian dairy goats for 20 years.  They have great quality milk, but it is difficult to separate the cream from goat milk. So for 20+ years, I have wanted to buy a Jersey cow.
I became very intetested in Miniature Jerseys about 5 years ago. I think it would be wonderful to produce a few top quality “Little Butter Cows”. They would make ideal family cows, in my opinion. So, for several years, I have been searching for a show quality registered Jersey heifer or cow to start a small-scale A.I. breeding project for Miniature Jerseys. I have found that most dairies and/or breeders of Jersey cattle do not want to part with their heifers, for understandable reasons. Most of the Jerseys I see advertised for sale are not registered, and are not of the quality that I am looking for. Unfortunately, I do not ordinarily have $3,000 or more to spend on a registered Jersey cow that catches my eye.
I am a stay-at-home Mom, so we have a single income. Our limited income goes toward the needs of our family and the critters.
My Miniature Jersey project keeps getting put on the “someday” list. I hope that it will come to fruition in the near future. Until then, I will be daydreaming about it.

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Adult entry by – Rose G.

The question says a lot about the answer, I think.  They are a beautiful, soft eyed, calm cow.  The few Jerseys I have had the good fortune of knowing, have all been wonderful creatures, quiet, willing, and just all around nice cows.  This is the type of cow that I would love to have the opportunity to milk as a family milk cow.  Having milked cows in the past, but not having a milk cow currently, there is something wonderful about the quiet and warmth of being nestled up to a milk cow.  I am not sure there is a better way to spend 20 minutes of time “alone” than to milk a cow.  The quite of the day beginning, the warmth from the cow, the smell that radiates from the cow herself to the smell of hay, and the ring of milk, as it hits the bucket, that breaks the silence of the day.  A dog or 4 and some cats watching and waiting for their own milking time treat.  What a wonderful way to begin a day, in solitude and able to plan out the day.  Again the same thing at night, but the day drawing to a close, and a time to reflect on the days accomplishments, disappointments, and opportunities.  I think that if more people had an opportunity to plan and reflect every day doing something that is equivalent to milking a cow for me, we would all be better off.

Growing up drinking “real” cow milk, raw and unaltered in any way, I am particularly partial to it.  I am not sure if I have any problems with the A1 milk that is typically produced here in the US, but I do know that if I ever have trouble from drinking or eating milk products, it comes from commercial products.  I have never had any trouble drinking or eating raw milk, and in particular Jersey milk, which tends to be A2.  Raw milk tastes like milk should taste, with good flavor, that tends to change as the seasons change, and depending on what the cow has consumed; but I think that store purchased milk has a homogenized quality to it, and I am not just speaking of the homogenization that they do to keep the fat suspended in the milk.  It is all the same in taste and color year round.  This is painfully obvious when you look at whole milk and skim milk.  Raw skim milk, is not very white, truly it is nearly a light blue color, where store bought skim milk is the same color as whole milk.  Raw whole milk is, at least at the beginning of lactation, almost yellow from the fat, considerably higher than 3.25%, where store bought whole milk is the same white color.

Aside from all the basically non-tangible, but still important, wonderful attributes of the Jersey cow, there are a multitude of other reasons to desire a Jersey for a milk cow.  Jerseys on the whole produce a milk that is of higher quality than other dairy breeds, containing more protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12.  This makes for a superior drinking milk, and also a vastly superior yield for cheese and butter making.   Since I have found a new love of cheese making, this type of cow would be a great opportunity for me to follow my creative whimsy.

A Holstein or other dairy breed could also be an opportunity to make cheese and other milk based products, but a Jersey just does it better.  Like I said before, they produce a better quality milk, but they are also smaller so they eat less in quantity.  Their input cost is less over all because of their smaller stature.  It has been shown though, that Jerseys are 75% the size of Holsteins, they can eat 80% of what a Holstein does.  This means that the Jersey eats a higher percentage of her body weight, but she also does more with it.  It means that a Jersey produces more pounds of energy corrected milk than a Holstein does, she eats more quantity of feed for her size, but produces a higher quality product, which means that more value can be obtained from her milk in cheese making, and similar products.  Jerseys are just more efficient than other breeds.

Jerseys also have a better track record for reproduction.  They reach maturity sooner, so they tend to produce milk earlier in their lives.  They can be bred more reliably to produce their first calf nearer to their 24th month of age.  They have less dystocia than other breeds, and breed back sooner after calving, for a shorter calving interval.  They also tend to stay in milking herds longer.  They have less incidence of removal from a herd due to lack of production, reproduction, mastitis, or death.  A longer producing, therefor typically meaning a healthier, cow just makes sense, weather you are a major milk producer, or just a back yard enthusiast.  This is especially true if you would like to make cheese and other products dependent on quality of the milk, or depend on upon a check for your milk production as a livelihood.

Technical information taken from the US Jersey website.

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Adult entry by Kathy B. –

Why a Jersey?

The music of her voice as she calls me to my chore

The liquid brown eyes begging for a touch

The lovely tawny nose accenting a chocolate face

The warm soury breath warming my nose

The big furry ears twitching to and fro

The unruly topknot much like my own first thing in the morning

The long string of saliva dripping from the corner of her mouth

The wet raspy tongue traveling along my pant leg

The fragrant steam rising from a (HUGE) pile of manure

The clip clop of hooves across the scarred concrete floor

Not too short, not too tall, just the right size

The contented sigh as she buries her nose into the sweet hay

The warmth of her flank on my forehead

The soft, warm skin of her udder

The hiss of creamy milk as my hand massages it from the teat to the bucket

The friend who patiently listens to all my worries

The absolute joy of the calf as he races around the paddock

The milk shared without question that feeds a calf, 2 pigs, a pack of dogs, and a family

The complete contentment I feel with my friend

Each and all are why a Jersey.

 

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Entry by C. H. –

This is not a hard question for our family to answer! It’s the only breed of dairy cow we’ve owned due to it’s many great qualities! To start off, each one has such an individual personality… Curious, witty, even having an attitude at times:); & yet, affectionate, patient, & SO generous with what they produce. We love them, each one in their own individuality.  They tend to be more of a pet than livestock!
Their rich milk makes such delicious cheeses (our favorite to make is Cheddar & ricotta) & yogurt, and their cream makes yummy ice cream, and sweet butter!
to add to all these previously mentioned qualities, Who can resist those  kind expressive eyes? They are such a nice size for a family milk cow, not too big and not too small.
As you can tell, we think very highly of the Jersey breed:) and would recommend it to anyone looking for a farm friend.

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Youth entry by E. A. –

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I love Jersey’s because they are so nice. I like to take them for walks and let them eat the fresh grass. My favorite is brushing them and making them look pretty. I also like there milk and like it in my cereal. I want to learn how to make yogurt like Grace Harbor farms there yogurt is so yummy. I help my mom and dad feed the baby calves on our farm. Mom and Dad milk them by hand. Someday we will buy a milk pump so it would be easier to milk the cows. Someday when I am big enough I want to show a cow at the fair. I want to join 4H. Thank you.

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Adult Entry – by: Karen S.

The Jersey breed of cow has a long and interesting history. They were originally bred on the British Channel Islands of Jersey. They were first recognized as a separate breed around 1700. The breed became quite popular because of their relatively small body size and lower relative maintenance needs. The breed generally has a mature weight of 800 to 1100 pounds.   They also boast of a superior grazing ability, calving ease, and a high fertility rate. They have a lower relative rate of Dystocia (Obstructed Labor) and are popular for crossbreeding to help prevent calving injuries.

The breed is adaptable to hot environments and are known for their high butterfat content in their milk. They can be a gentle, docile cow and are recommended for first time farms. They can come in all shades of brown, but most common is a fawn color.

Some of the most famous Jerseys are Brown Bessie, Hurionia Centurion Veronica 20J. Brown Bessie was named the Champion Butter Cow of the Chicago World Fair Dairy Test. She averaged over 40 pounds of milk a day for 5 months and made 3 pounds of butter a day. Hurionia Centurion Veronica 20J was a well known show cow who sold for $85,000 at a public auction. She was the 2006 World Dairy Expo Supreme Champion, as well as named the All American Grand Champion Jersey.

In all, Jerseys are a wonderful breed of cow that are blessing to the dairy world. They make wonderful family cows who produce delicious milk. I would recommend a Jersey to anyone who wanted a good, quality cow.

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Adult Entry – by Jackie C.

Why not? Well actually I have over the last year done a lot of research on cows in general. October of 2013 we purchased our first home on 6 acres. At that time we only had my two horses and our dogs. With high hopes of having a full fledge small family homestead, Being as self-sufficient supplying our own food as we could. Found the forum keeping the family cow and purchasing all books I could to learn all I could. Dreaming of one day having my own Jersey, if not just because I myself have fallen in love with them, but also because the book Joann writes “Keeping a Family Cow” and all what the wonderful members of the forum always have to say about their own jerseys they have.

So our first purchase was a 4 week old jersey steer, with full intentions of raising him to be our future beef. Problem was we fell in love with that brown eyed beauty. And in the end we had to trade him off to some friends that would toss him in with other cows and not touch him. He became dog like. And I kept saying if only he would have been born a heifer!

After having that sweet steer we wanted to try again doing cows. But this time not a bottle baby so we didn’t fall so madly in love again. So we purchased a Holstein/Jersey steer that just needed finished out. He was tame, but we were able to follow through and finally have a freezer full of beef! And then I tried to see if we could purchase a jersey cow. And my husband and I decided we better start with more of a beef breed that would raise her own calves for us. And so we acquired two Dexter cows and a Dexter bull. One of the Dexters being trained to milk! But attempting to milk her this year failed miserably. Her calf was a pig, and our dexter bull decided her milk was tasty too! So I had to wean them both and dry her off this go round.

But I still can’t shake that Jersey cow out of my mind. Every time I see an add on craigslist, or pass a dairy with Jerseys, or go to get our raw milk from our Jersey cow friend. I long to have one of those beauty’s in my field too! With the bonus that she would supply our family with more milk then we could ever need or want. That we could drink, turn into different food items saving on our food bill, feed and raise our pigs, and the added bonus of another calf on the property.

calfAnd so one day I will, either by this contest, or this summer after we sell calves from our dexters 🙂

 

And the sweet little jersey steer we called baby cow we fell in love with 🙂

Who couldn’t love that face!

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