Jersey beef is one of the best-tasting beef out ther. Being tender, juicy, and well marbled, many dairy farmers around the world are turning to Jerseys for beef after their milking period ends.
While it is easy to raise Jerseys, it is important to learn a few things before taking the plunge.
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Where Do Jerseys Come From?
The Jersey breed hails from a tiny island off the coast of France called the Isle of Jersey (island of Jersey).
Thanks to the Jersey cow breed’s small size, high-quality milk and high production, it was introduced to England in the 1740s and North America in the 1850s.
The Jersey cow has been a purebred animal for almost 6 centuries now. Today, Jersey cows are among the highest milk-producing cattle breeds in the world, so they are widely sought-after.
Jersey Cow Breed Characteristics
The Jersey cow breed’s popularity has increased because of factors such as:
|Official Breed Name||Jersey Cow|
|Origin||Isle of Jersey/the British Isles|
|Appearance||Brown, cream, gray, fawn, or red-tinted and have a light abdomen|
Regardless of shade, their muzzles, flanks, and tails are dark
They have a large udder just like most other dairy cows
Both cows and bulls have small, curved horns.
|Mature Cow Weight||800 to 1200 pounds|
|Mature Bull Weight||1200-1800 pounds|
|Milk/Year||10,000-17,500 pounds per year|
|Expected Lifespan||18 to 22 years, but it is not uncommon for them to live for up to 30 years|
|Known For||Strong milk production as a dairy breed (they hold the world record!)|
Easy calving as heifers attain reproductive age sooner than other dairy cows
Docile temperament and easy maintenance
|Climate||Does well in cold and warm climates|
Jerseys are found around the world with large populations in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Zimbabwe, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Studies show that Jersey cows are less vulnerable to mastitis than Holsteins. For example, in Florida’s dairy herds, mastitis and various udder complications were more common among Holsteins (22 percent for jerseys as compared to 51 percent for Holstein).
Are Jerseys Good For Beef?
Jersey beef has become very popular as people are increasingly looking for yellow-fat beef, which is sign of a pasture-fed diet. In the past, consumers preferred white-fat meat due to its visual appeal.
Yellow fat comes from grass-fed diet while white fat comes from grains. The yellow-fat beef is due to high levels of vitamin D and carotene. This increases when cows are put on a grass-fed diet and are allowed to free range instead of being artificially fattened through feed grains in feedlots.
Ultimately, Jersey beef has a great beef flavor. To add more fat to the meat and reduce the chances of having ‘gamey’ flavor, you can add some grans to your cow’s regular diet.
Jersey cows have much less meat per cow than a 100% beef breed. Your jersey cow will have a thinner build than a beef breed, which obviously leads to a lower carcass weight.
However, Jersey beef can be a profitable choice in the dairy beef sector. What jersey cows lack in size is more than made up in the meat quality when it comes to tenderness and taste.
Raised on a grass diet and supplemented with grain, they can produce well-marbled and high-quality beef within a short period on less feed and fewer medications.
Why Should I Raise Jersey Cattle On My Farm?
Provided you have a place to sell the milk and adequate pasture for your cow, you can’t go wrong with a Jersey cow or two. However, raising Jersey cattle requires some effort and resources, so this may not be the best choice for mini dairy farms.
There are many benefits to raising jersey cows:
- They are low-maintenance cows and have wonderful grazing ability due to their small size.
- Due to their low-maintenance needs and small size, it is easy to transport several Jersey cows.
- On local feed, Jersey cattle have approximately 3.95 percent of protein and 4.84 percent of butterfat.
- They are ideal for crossbreeding with beef breeds to reduce calving-related issues, and with other dairy cattle to ensure calving ease and low incidences of dystocia.
- When it comes to feeding, Jerseys eat around 2 to 2.5 pounds of pasture or hay every day. If you decide to feed grain, the typical ratio is 16 percent, which balances perfectly well with hay or pasture.
- A Jersey cow produces 30 to 35 liters of milk every day. This translates to around 5000 to 8000 Kg of Jersey milk yield every year.
- Compared to other dairy breeds, Jerseys can help you save around 13 to 18% on overall feed costs. Feed costs make up around 55% of a dairy cow’s operational input.
- Reduced feed and maintenance requirements in Jersey cows can mean less agricultural land and lower feed sourcing and storage costs.
- Less manure from your Jersey herd will also benefit the ecosystem as there will be less phosphorous in it.
Comparatively, Jerseys produce more milk at a much lower cost than most other dairy breeds of cattle, while being more fertile and having a short calving period.