Specifications of Jersey heifers
- Age pregenant heifers: between 24-32 months at time of calving
- Open heifers: 6-12 months
- Pedigree registered
- Lactations between 20-23 liters per day
- Anual lactation of 6.000-7.000 liters/year
- Fat: 5,5%
- Protein: 4,1%
The history story of the Jersey breed starts around 1700 at the British Island Jersey in front of the coast of Normandy, France. The pureness of the blood of the Jersey breed has been controlled by the the government for more than 200 years.
Till 1789 the Jersey cattle / Livestock was a wedding gift for inter island marriages between the British Island Jersey and Guernsey. It was forbidden to import any cattle Livestock from abroad, to keep the Jersey breed pure. However the export of Jersey breed cattle / livestock and semen was a huge income for the Island.
The import restrictions of livestock in 1789 were the result of a UK import from France via the Island Jersey. The bad quality and dumping prices gave a bad result to the reputation of the Jersey livestock and prices. The result was a ban on all import of cattle / livestock to Jersey, so the control on quality and prices of Jersey livestock became much better.
As told, the export of the cattle / livestock was a huge source of income for the Island of Jersey. In 1860 about 1138 Jersey cows / cattle / livestock were exported from the Island. Even around 1910, more than a 1000 head of Jersey cattle / livestock were exported to the USA only.
In 1866 the Jersey Herdbook was founded. In this Jersey Herd book, all bulls, heifers and cows were registered, so complete control on the breed was possible. The result came in 1869, prizes were awarded for breeders and their Jersey cattle / livestock of the Jersey herd book.
In 2008, the ban on import of cattle / livestock and semen ended. From this moment it is possible to import bull semen from all breeds of cattle / livestock into the States of Jersey. Only purebred semen from breeds like: Friesian Holstein, Simmental, European Red etcetera are approved by the Jersey Herdbook.
A long tradition came to an end: all 12 districts in Jersey held cattle / livestock shows during the whole year round, followed by the final show from Royal Jersey Society, where the best breeding districts were competing with their best genetic material for the prestigious awards.
Nowaday, the Royal Jersey Society organizes 2 shows per year, with the remaining 5 or 6 Jersey districts, competing against each other for the prizes.
The United States of America became a big importer of Jersey cattle / livestock since 1850. The Amercian Jersey Cattle Club was founded in 1868. The differences between American Jersey cattle and the original island type Jersey livestock, is the size of the cow. The Americans bred the livestock for milk production, and bred a larger type of cow. The original Jersey cow from the Island is quite small and called “Miniature Jersey”.
Characteristics of Jersey dairy breed
- The Jersey is a small type of dairy cattle / livestock with a body weight between 400 and 500 kg
- The breed is very popular for its high Fat 5% and Protein 4% content in the milk.
- Jersey livestock are effective milking cows: because of their superior grazing ability and their easy handling. Their behavior is typically calm, manageable and the heifers calf very easily.
- Jersey livestock are very small at their birth, with a body weight of around 25kg, which makes it easier on the dam. Around 96% of births in first-lactation Jerseys heifers needed no help or assistance, while later lactation cows had almost 99% unsupported births. That makes it very popular to cross the Jersey breed with other dairy breeds like Friesian Holstein or beef breeds to reduce the problems with calving. Also their fertility is very high, so very well for breeding Jersey population. The first birth is around 19 months, and even the calving interval is quite short.
- The colour of the Jersey breed can vary in all colours of brown till almost black with their long eyelashes.
- The worldwide popularity of the Jersey breed is because, Jersey’s can adapt to extreme temperatures. From the coldest till the warmest areas, the Jersey cattle / livestock can manage it.
- Jersey cattle is a strong breed, so the problems with legs and hooves are less than other breeds. Also mastitis and dystocia problems are much lower than in other breeds. Besides this, the Jersey cattle / livestock has a longer life span. The amount of lactation per lifetime is quite high.
- Average lactation of the Jersey cattle / livestock is around 5000kg of milk per year. The best Jersey cattle / livestock can make it to around 8500-9000kg per year.