Posted Nov 01, 2016
The Jersey, the small, ‘fawn’ looking breed is incredibly docile with a genial personality, and, coincidentally is one of the smallest breeds of the cow world. The breed originated around the year 1700 from the Norman mainland by way of the small English Channel Island of Jersey. These cows were brought to the small island to adorn the gardens and aesthetically landscaped parks of the wealthy and the purity of this breed was actually protected by English import law from 1789 -2008! In the early 1900’s the breed was introduced slowly into North America and gained much popularity due to several of its’ outstanding traits:
• The ability to carry a larger number of effective milking cows per unit area ( farm ) due to lower body weight, hence lower maintenance requirements, and superior grazing ability.
• Calving ease, increasing their popularity in crossbreeding with other dairy and even beef breeds to reduce calving related injuries.
• High fertility
• High butterfat conditions, 4.84% butterfat and 3.95% protein, and the ability to thrive on locally produced food.
It is however, the mild temperament and smaller size that drew me to these animals we had on our dairy farm as I was growing up. They seem to have a calm patience about them and they seem thoroughly enjoy human company and affection. I remember many evenings lying beside her as my parents milked the rest of the cows in the barn, the warmth of her and the fact that she did not seem to mind me getting snuggled in closer. Cows have such beautiful big expressive eyes that belie a certain sense of personality and soul, the Jersey is no exception to this.'Design' was my favorite cows name and I spent a lot of time with her in the milking barn as a kid. I remember feeling so safe and warm when nuzzled up to her in her stall as she relaxed and ate between milkings, like she was tending to one of her own calves. Perhaps this was her way of communicating and reciprocating my loving intentions without speaking?
Whether or not it was a meeting of two largely different spirits filled with positive vibes or simply a human and his very large pet the fact remains that the Jersey cow is both an extremely viable source of livestock resources AND a loving lumbering beast here to provide sustenance and a fleeting companionship.