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Although we love our Alpine goats, we dreamed of a good cow to provide us with delicious cream.  Rich, homemade butter, whipped cream, yogurt, and ice cream…need I say more?  Yes, goats can provide that to some extent, but it requires special equipment to separate the naturally homogenized milk.  Cow milk separates naturally and quickly.  Plus, cows can graze our lush pastures, while the goats prefer to browse along the forest line.

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The more we learned about dairy cows, the more difficult our search for the right one became.  Unfortunately, as modern dairy practices took shape beginning about a century ago, common dairy cows had a protein gene that began to mutate.  You can find more detailed info elsewhere, but essentially, this mutation of the casein protein is often to blame for digestive issues and milk intolerance in humans.  There are some dairy cows still out there, however, that do not possess the mutated gene, now known as the A1/A2 gene.  The purer, original gene, known as A2/A2, is more desirable.  Interestingly, goats are A2/A2, as are most beef cattle, as they never developed the mutated A1/A2 gene.  This may well be a big reason why people who can’t handle cow milk can often drink goat milk just fine.  In any case, regular genetic testing for this gene is a relatively new concept.  As a result,  A2/A2 cows are difficult to find, and if found, they are rarely for sale.  Because we have several children that have shown tendencies toward dairy intolerance with standard milk, finding an A2/A2 cow was our top priority.  Being blessed with one that passed every vet test we did, had good conformation, and a great looking udder was a bonus for sure!

Sweet Jersey face

Sweet Jersey face

After 2 years of searching, we finally found one!  She is a standard-sized Jersey (so she will mature around 48 inches or so), due to deliver her first calf in May 2014.  She was bred to a Lowline bull, so the calf will be considered a “Jey-low.”  Bull calves make excellent and plentiful beef, while heifer calves can potentially become excellent milkers for a homestead.  She is grass-fed, rotating around our pasture during the growing season, so she always has access to a fresh “buffet” of greens!    If the Lord chooses to bless us, we will have a beautiful calf and more milk and cream than we know what to do with next summer!

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2 Responses to “Jersey Dairy Cattle”

  1. Mindy Says:

    She is perfect! I’m starting to look for an A2 cow myself. I would really like to find a full-mini or mid-size jersey cow. I’d love to know how you went about finding yours? Most websites are outdated, all bulls, or already sold. I’m not in a hurry to buy but I’d love to know where to start looking. Any info you can share would be very much appreciated!

    1. redgatefarm Says:

      To answer your question, I would suggest post “wanted” ads on homesteading or mini-cow websites, and google for farms within the area you’re willing to drive and contact each of them. If they don’t have something available, ask if you can put on their waiting list, or if they know of someone who might have a heifer/cow available. Spread the word of your search however you can. That’s basically what we did. The mini-cow world is pretty tight, so if someone hears of something, they are better able to help if they have your info. Our girl came about because I had told an acquaintance we were looking. Unbeknownst to me, this person had a good relationship with the Amish community several hours away. When an Amish family decided to sell their mid-sized heifer, they put out word in the community, which got back to my acquaintance, and she called me. We jumped on it.

      If you know what you want, it narrows your search a bit, but also limits your choices. If you are more open, be sure to include that info. Chances are you will have to get a heifer, as cows are highly valued and few people let them go. But it happens.

      As a side note, I’m not sure we will do another jersey. After we lost ours, we have since talked with folks in our area and in similar climates, and there seems to be a high rate of illness and death. In our area (zone 4/5) the cows do pretty well in the summer, but they just don’t seem to tolerate the colder winters well. Even with our deep bedding systems and barn, ours just became too fragile. We know a guy who has worked with jerseys for a many years, and even he is switching over to a cross-breed to increase the hardiness. That is what we will look for next time.

      Best wishes on your search!

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