The Jersey breed of cattle as described in writings around the 1864 time frame.
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
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 firm.
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.