Miniature Jerseys vs. Standard Jerseys- How do I choose?
For people with smaller acreage or who are new to livestock, Miniature Jerseys may be a better option for you. The miniatures are half the weight of the standard size Jerseys. Because of that they can be easier to handle. The miniatures require less space, consume at least 50% less feed and produce much less manure. This adds up to saved time and money in the long term. Although the miniatures initial purchase cost is greater, the savings over time in feed and bedding will quickly cover your initial outlay. Obviously a 500 pound cow will not consume or require nearly the resources that a 1200+ pound standard cow will require. Also, because the market is strong for small homestead cows, your produced offspring will command a much higher price.
People have many reasons for considering purchasing miniature cows. Here are some of the more common reasons:
1. Tax Status on Small Acreage: often people purchase small acreage homesteads which have an "Agricultural" tax basis. In order to maintain that tax basis, owners are required to maintain agricultural animals on their land. Miniature cows are very efficient feed converters and can graze and maintain themselves on reasonable forage at the rate of 2 cows per acre. This also means a lower carbon footprint.
2. Family Milk Use: Miniature Jersey's normally produce between 1-3 gallons of high component milk which is a perfect amount for home use. Often owners enjoy drinking fresh milk and making butter, cheese, whipped cream, sour cream and ice cream. Families know exactly what their animals are eating and know the cows are not injected with hormones like BST which may have a negative effect on children's development.
3. Health Benefits: I am not an expert regarding the benefits of raw milk. However, many of our clients choose to buy a cow to benefit from the attributes of raw milk. Many people with chronic health issues, especially those with autoimmune disorders, have found that raw milk has helped them reach remission. We recommend that our clients do their own research to determine if they would benefit from drinking raw milk. One of our client's recommends this book,"New Milk Diet As A Remedy for Treating Chronic Disease" by Charles Samford Porter. This book is actually very old and can be purchased on ebay for $9-$30.
4. Efficient Feed Converters: Miniature cattle are known for being very efficient converters of feed. It has been said they are 25% more efficient than large size cattle. Because of this fact, miniatures can bring meat and milk to the table for quite a bit less than regular size cattle. A miniature steer can fill a freezer for a family without needing to find another family to "share" in the bounty.
5. Weed and Pasture Maintenance: Miniature cows do a great job of keeping the brush mowed down in your fields. This can save a small acreage property owner quite a bit of time and help them make money at the same time.
Here are our Percentage Lowline Angus cows. The larger white cow is a mid-size British White.
6. Less Intimidating Size: Miniature Jerseys have lovely personalities. Mine have made great pets. I have plenty of standard size Jerseys to compare them with and the mini's always seem to be very sweet and easy to handle. They seem to really enjoy being with people and their small size makes them less intimidating to most people.
Misty and her daughter Mandy, both Miniature Jerseys next to Truffle, a Standard Jersey.
7. Home School Projects: It is easy to incorporate a Miniature Jersey into a home school family. The children can share in the daily care of the cow, keep detailed profit and loss records, learn to manage a check book, keep track of inventory sheets, budget for feed. A small CSA milk share business can allow the cow to be self supporting and show young people that it can be rewarding to be successful in their endeavors.
Miniature Jersey calves enjoying bottle time on the farm.
8. Self Sustainability: Many people are becoming more interested in self sustainability. A family on small acreage can easily care for a vegetable garden, a few chickens and a family milk cow. This allows for most produce, dairy products and meat to be produced at home at a fraction of the cost of purchasing these items at the store. Additionally, these families have the added peace of mind of knowing exactly what goes into their food supply.
9. Pets: Some people want a few farm animals for pets. We often have steer calves for sale that make excellent pets. They are sweet, cuddly and quite a novelty. They stay small and are a lot of fun.
When is a Standard or Modern Size Jersey a better option?
If you are accustomed to handling livestock, have larger property, have limited immediate funds or really need large quantities of milk, the more modern, Standard Jersey may be a good option for you. Many of the Standard size Jerseys are easy to handle and under ideal conditions, can milk up to 12 gallons of milk per day. They tend to be less expensive for your initial purchase price and if properly handled can be delightful family cows.