Danish Jersey Cattle
What Is the History of Danish Jersey Cattle?
Jersey Cattle were originally distributed around the world, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, UK and of course Denmark (Danish Jersey Cattle), around 100 years ago. Each of those countries established a purebred Herdbook Society more than 100 years ago. Therefore, Danish Jersey Cattle are exactly the same purebred Jersey breed. And so, founded in Denmark (in particular, West Funen), Danish Jersey Cattle are a variety of Jersey Cattle that were developed during the late 1800s from Swedish imports and from Jersey in the early 1900s. The Danish Jersey Cattle was finally formed in 1902.
Although Danish Jersey Cattle are a firm member of the Jersey family, they have evolved in each of those countries differently, whilst still retaining their breed purity. This is due to differing breeding programmes and indexes:
- In the USA they have focussed on milk volume and bred for higher yield lower fat and protein percentages.
- In NZ they have concentrated on a jersey that produces the highest amount of milk solids (Kgs fat and protein) per acre of grazing, therefore smaller cattle.
- In Canada, they have put emphasis on a taller, more showy type cow with slightly less milk volume than the USA.
- In Denmark, they have bred for butterfat production for over 100 years and more recently for kgs of both fat & protein, with slightly less emphasis on type until recently. The Danish have now added health and functional type as important traits to evaluate and improve.
All in all, each country has exactly the same breed and purity. Recent years has seen imports and exports blend these different types to create a cow that suits every need. In the UK, for example, a typical Jersey in Cornwall would be different to a typical Jersey in Scotland. With Cornwall suiting a cow from Jersey Island or New Zealand and Scotland suiting a Danish Jersey, (generally speaking). Each of those countries will market dairy produce (Milk, Butter & Cheese) differently, so each country will pay for their milk in a different way. Therefore, it is important to know how the farmer will be paid for his milk before choosing the best route forward and from where best to select your Jersey Genetics. Another important consideration for Jersey Cattle is what type of food is available to the farmer - is it stored feed like silage? or grazed feed like grass? or what proportion of each? As well how long is the grazing season?
Over the last 20 or 30 years most breed development has centred around producing a more efficient cow. This means if management is lacking, the gains will be less. Modern Jersey Cattle have been developed to convert a large quantity of quality feed into a high yield of very rich milk. The management must equal the genetics.
There are plenty of Danish Jersey Cattle available for export, with over 70,000 milking Danish Jersey Cattle, the largest Jersey Cattle population. Of which, almost 7,000 are exported every year as breeding stock - more than the whole population of Jersey Cattle on Jersey Island!
What Are the Characteristics of Danish Jersey Cattle?
Danish Jersey Cattle have white muzzles and black noses. They are often light brown, however, can vary from a dull black to grey (aka. Mulberry). Some Danish Jersey Cattle also have white patches, which can sometimes be plentiful. Males have a tendency to have a darker coat than females.
Known for being calm and curious animals, Danish Jersey Cattle are tolerant to heat, they have minimal hoof problems and good locomotion.
Danish Jersey Cattle are highly fertile, with their sperm often being used by Jersey Island farmers to produce cows that are bigger and produce more milk. Danish Jersey cows are known for being excellent mothers with easy births, meaning minimal handling and help is required. Danish Jersey Cattle produce large amounts of milk (7000-8000kg, with some producing 11,000kg of milk a year!) having eaten minimal amounts of grass, making them efficient animals. Their shorter height, makes them excellent grazers too.
How Much Do Danish Jersey Cattle Weigh?
Danish Jersey cows tend to weigh around 350-425 kg whereas bulls are far larger, so can weigh around 500-600 kg.
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- Mason, I.L. 1996. A World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieties. Fourth Edition. C.A.B International. 273 pp.
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