Jersey's are a great family cow. They are mild mannered and easy on the eyes. They are well suited to take care of them selves in a pasture and wont hesitate to kick out at a predator. They are a horned cow, although ours are all dehorned at birth. Mine really seem to dislike deer and elk. They will chase them out of the pastures and keep them away from the hay.
They have traditional coloring's ranging from tan to almost black. They can have some white spotting on them, but not too much. The most common color is fawn. They are also one of the smaller diary cows. They range from 800-1200 lbs. This gives them a frail look too. But dont let that fool you. These guys are strong. I have seen our little 800 pound Jersey drag Dan down a slope. Granted, she was just coming because we called her for her grain. It just goes to show, they will go after what they want.
They do need housing indoors in the winter as their short coats and lighter bodies arent suited to the snow or cold. Ours will get hairy udders and thicker coats in the winter and it really isnt the cold as long as it stays above -20, but the wind that gets to them. It is not uncommon to look out and see a blanket of snow on them and it doesnt even phase them. It is harder when the snow starts to melt and then it gets really cold again for a short time. The ice it creates on their coats can cause them issues. I have not had any of our Jerseys have frost damage on their udders or teats. They have access to their barn, but choose to stay out when it is not windy or stormy.
They do really well on pasture in the summers. They are subject to milk fever* but this can be treated if you know what you are looking for and is very rare on their first calving. We have not had milk fever with any of ours here. We have had issue with ketosis** though. That has only been when they calve in the colder months. So, we time our calving with the peak of the summer grass and that has virtually eliminated the issues with ketosis. Their milk is noted for its high butterfat averaging 4.8% and protein of 3.85%. There have been recent studies showing that the higher butterfat of about 6% can be attained by higher protein. We are trying to have cows that produce the higher amounts of BF and protein here. It makes for better quality and better yields of cheese. Also, the older records show that Jerseys used to produce higher amounts of BF and protein.
These curious little cows make a good pets. Cows do well being a mower anywhere you put them. Be careful though. They will try to eat anything including metal. Tethering is a good way of keeping them where you want them. Just remember, tie them 10 feet farther away from the point you dont want them to pass. They have long tongues and given a foot will take five. The biggest complaint most people have with these wonderful animals is the lack of body weight. They always look thin and bony. They can be difficult to keep weight on them during their peek milking cycle.
*Milk fever is the result of a cow putting all the calcium from her body into her milk. This is a common occurrence which occurs quickly after calving as the milk drops and an injection of calcium can correct this issue. Consult a vet for proper dosage, injection sight, and method. It varies depending on the animal and the severity of the illness. Minor milk fever only requires a paste. It can also occur prior to calving.
**Ketosis is the result of the cow not getting enough calories or not being able to process enough calories. This causes odd behavior, weight loss, drop in milk, and ultimately death if not treated. There have been links to it being connected with not enough minerals. We have had ketosis here and it was while we were using a commercial dairy ration, alfalfa/grass hay, access to loose mineral, and water. We no longer use a commercial dairy ration, but choose to calve at a different time, give free choice alfalfa and grass hay separately, and still maintain the use of loose mineral and water all the time. This is just our experience and not ment to be taken as advice or as replacement for a vet's advice. Always consult a vet.
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