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Home / Dan's Dairy Diary / Why Jerseys?

Why Jerseys?

We are called Young’s Jersey Dairy because we chose to have Jersey cows on our farm.  We get asked why Jersey’s?  Why not have the most popular cow in the US – Holsteins (the black & white dairy cows you often see in our area)?  After all, Holstein cows produce a lot more milk than Jerseys – as much as 35% more in fact.  There are other breeds of cows that produce milk – but are not used at much in the US – Brown Swiss, Guernsey, and Ayrshire are the best known.

Jersey cows (this is an average) produce 16,000 to 17,000 pounds of milk a year (that’s about 6-7 gallons a day).  They typically milk for 305 days, and then stop giving milk for a couple months, then have a calf and start producing milk again.  Jersey milk has 15-20% more protein, calcium, phosphorous and vitamin B12 compared to Holsteins.  Jersey milk has more solids not fat (as well as fat solids), so it yields more cheese – about 12-13% yield.  100 pounds of Jersey milk will yield around 12.5 pounds of cheese (cheddar, colby, baby swiss, gouda, pepper jack or fresh cheddar curds!).

Jersey cows originated from the Island of Jersey in the English Channel off the coast of France, and have been a recognized breed of dairy cow for over 300 years – maybe longer.  A Jersey usually is a fawn color, but come in all shades of brown and tan, sometimes with black shading.

Another reason we have Jerseys is the second generation of Young family members, two of whom studied and received dairy science degrees from The Ohio State University in the 1950’s, like Jersey cows!  The better milk is a plus, and a Jersey cow is usually a calm and content cow with an easy to work with disposition.  A Jersey cow is also smaller than a Holstein cow, so she eats less and uses less resources – and it doesn’t hurt so much when she steps on your toes when working in the barn.  Moo!