Black & White or Brown All Over?
In the world of dairy farming, two breeds of cows are most common. Holsteins (the black and white ones) are larger and produce greater quantities of milk. Holsteins came to the US from Holland back in 1621 and when mature, weigh in at about 1,500 pounds. With an average weight of 900 pounds, Jersey cows are much smaller. Though they produce less milk, their milk naturally has a higher fat and protein content. Jerseys come from a tiny island called the Isle of Jersey between France and England in the English Channel.
So what makes a farmer choose what type of cow? Many factors, including environment, end dairy product, feed availability, and on-farm management practices go into what type of cow a farmer chooses to house on his dairy, and many dairies are home to a combination of milk cows. Some of our farmers weigh in on their experiences and preferences with the two breeds:
- Jason Bateman is a 3rd generation dairy farmer who farms with his father and 3 brothers on Batemans Mosida Farm just SW of Salt Lake City, UT. Of their 6100 cows, just 10% are Jerseys, but Jason enjoys their curious, friendly nature. Walk up to the Jersey corrals at his farm and the girls wander over to give you a warm, curious welcome. Jason says, “they are less prone to heat stress, they tend to have less foot problems, and they are easier to get pregnant.”
- Maria Nye farms with her husband and 2 sons on The Mountain View Dairy in Delta, UT. With the help, guidance, and supervision of a veterinarian, Maria crossbreeds Jerseys with Holsteins for ease of calving, adaptability, and greater heat tolerance.
- The milk from Garrick and Holly Hall’s farm in Northern Utah gets made into cheese, so they prefer Jersey cows for the fat and protein content of the milk.
So there you have it, a quick run-down on the basic differences between America’s two most popular breeds of dairy cows.