A Jersey cow in the western United States.
A small, honey-brown breed of dairy cattle, the Jersey is renowned for the high butterfat content of its milk, as well as a genial disposition.
As its name implies, the Jersey was bred on the British Channel Island of Jersey. It apparently descended from cattle stock brought over from nearby Normandy, and was first recorded as a separate breed around 1700. Since 1789, imports of foreign cattle into Jersey have been forbidden by law to maintain the purity of the breed, although exports of cattle and semen have been an important economic resource for the island.
With an average weight of 900 pounds (450 kg), the Jersey cow is small, but by some measures it produces more milk per unit of body weight than any other breed. Bulls are also small by standards of domestic cattle, ranging around 1,500 pounds (750 kg), but can be surprisingly aggressive.
Due to the small size, docile character and attractive features of the Jersey cow, small herds were imported into England by aristocratic landowners as props for aesthetic landscapes. Among famous owners of Jersey cows was Prince Felix Yussupov who bought a cow in Jersey to add to his collection of exotic pets.
Last updated: 05-01-2005 03:24:30