The smallholder's cow
PUBLISHED: 17:58 25 April 2014 | UPDATED: 21:08 29 April 2014
SEPT 18, 2013: Tim Tyne chooses another of his 'Best Breeds' ....
The Jersey is the quintessential smallholder’s house cow, as recommended by Seymour during the self-sufficiency hey-day of the late 1970s/early 1980s, but to be honest we’ve only ever kept one unintentionally! Over the years we’ve had a number of Jersey crosses which have satisfied our requirements very well (the Jersey-cross-Belgian/British Blue being our particular favourite), but there came a time when, through bad planning on my part, we ended up with all of our cows dry at the same time and no milk for the house!
After about a week of buying dairy products, Dot declared that she couldn’t carry on like that. The price of butter, in particular, was making a massive dent in the housekeeping money. “There’s no alternative” she said. “You’ll have to go and buy another cow, in milk, now!” (Funny, isn’t it, how she saves money in the housekeeping account by getting me to spend money from the farm account?).
As it happened I’d just heard of a newly calved Jersey cow for sale on a nearby dairy farm. She was an elderly, scruffy little thing, with badly overgrown hooves and a rather pathetic calf that looked like it had been born a bit before time. I definitely wasn’t interested in the calf, but I made an offer well below the asking price for the cow, which was immediately accepted. So she came to live with us and was named Buggerlugs.
For two years we kept her, and she kept us well supplied with milk. She never produced very much on a day-to-day basis, but she had a long lactation which was a great help in ensuring continuity of supply.
Eventually, though, and despite regular treatment, her rotten feet got the better of her and we sent her to cull. She’s left us two lovely daughters, both by British Blue bulls, which we’ll keep and breed from in due course, but I didn’t find the pure Jersey so well suited to small-scale farming as the earlier writers would have us believe. I don’t think we’ll be keeping another one, anyway. At least, not intentionally..!
* Often recommended as the ideal house cow.
* Easy calving, so can be safely crossed with a beef bull.
* Very docile
* High quality milk
* Low value calves, so difficult to cover the cost of home milk production.