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The Jersey

Category: History and Breeds

These cattle are now widely known in this country. Many of them have
been imported from an island of the same name in the British Channel,
near the coast of France, and they may now be considered, for all
practical purposes, as fully acclimated. They were first introduced,
upward of thirty years ago, from the channel islands, Alderney,
Guernsey, and Jersey.

This race is supposed to have been originally derived from Normandy, in
the northern part of France. The cows have been long celebrated for the
production of very rich milk and cream, but till within the last
twenty-five or thirty years they were comparatively coarse, ugly, and
ill-shaped. Improvements have been very marked, but the form of the
animal is still far from satisfying the eye.

The head of the pure Jersey is fine and tapering, the cheek small, the
throat clean, the muzzle fine and encircled with a light stripe, the
nostril high and open; the horns smooth, crumpled, but not very thick at
the base, tapering and tipped with black; ears small and thin, deep
orange color inside; eyes full and placid; neck straight and fine; chest
broad and deep; barrel hoofed, broad and deep, well ribbed up; back
straight from the withers to the hip, and from the top of the hip to the
setting of the tail; tail fine, at right angles with the back, and
hanging down to the hocks; skin thin, light color, and mellow, covered
with fine soft hair; fore legs short, straight and fine below the knee,
arm swelling and full above; hind quarters long and well filled; hind
legs short and straight below the hocks, with bones rather fine,
squarely placed, and not too close together; hoofs small; udder full in
size, in line with the belly, extending well up behind; teats of medium
size, squarely placed and wide apart, and milk-veins very prominent. The
color is generally cream, dun, or yellow, with more or less of white,
and the fine head and neck give the cows and heifers a fawn-like
appearance, and make them objects of attraction in the park; but the
hind quarters are often too narrow to work well, particularly to those
who judge animals by the amount of fat which they carry.

It should be borne in mind, however, that a good race of animals is not
always the most beautiful, as that term is generally understood. Beauty
in stock has no invariable standard. In the estimation of some, it
results mainly from fine forms, small bones, and close, compact frames;
while others consider that structure the most perfect, and therefore the
most beautiful, which is best adapted to the use for which it is
destined. With such, beauty is relative. It is not the same in an animal
designed for beef and in one designed for the dairy or for work. The
beauty of a milch cow is the result of her good qualities. Large milkers
are very rarely cows that please the eye of any but a skillful judge.
They are generally poor, since their food goes mainly to the production
of milk, and because they are selected with less regard to form than to
good milking qualities. The prevailing opinion as to the beauty of the
Jersey, is based on the general appearance of the cow when in milk--no
experiments in feeding exclusively for beef having been made public,
and no opportunity to form a correct judgment from actual observation
having been furnished; and it must be confessed that the general
appearance of the breed would amply justify the hasty conclusion.

The bulls are usually very different in character and disposition from
the cows, and are much inclined to become restive and cross at the age
of two or three years, unless their treatment is uniformly gentle and

The Jersey is to be regarded as a dairy breed, and that almost
exclusively. It would not be sought for large dairies kept for the
supply of milk to cities; for, though the quality would gratify the
customer, the quantity would not satisfy the owner. The place of the
Jersey cow is rather in private establishments, where the supply of
cream and butter is a sufficient object; or, in limited numbers, to add
richness to the milk of large butter dairies. Even one or two good
Jersey cows with a herd of fifteen or twenty, will make a great
difference in the quality of the milk and butter of the whole
establishment; and they would probably be profitable for this, if for no
other object.

Next: The Short Horns

Previous: The Ayrshire

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