Jersey Fun Facts

All About Jerseys

And How to Care For Your Jersey Milk Cow

Jerseys are herd animals. This means that they are happiest and most comfortable if they have other cows around them. Jerseys can adjust to many different environments and schedules and even to being around other farm animals. Some people choose to have only one cow, but just about anyone who has had one cow and then brought a second cow or calf to be with them can see that their first cow is much happier with a friend of the same kind.


Jerseys Love Companionship

When we bought our first cow, Colby, she was a yearling heifer. She was quite ornery and did not want to be touched or even have us very close to her. We worked with her a lot, giving her treats and being calm, quiet, and patient around her. This helped some, but we could tell she was not really content or comfortable. We had a few goats and a small herd of sheep that we kept with her, but she didn’t seem to hang out with them. She didn’t mind them sharing her pasture, but couldn’t care less if they were around or not. When we decided to get a second cow, her personality was night and day different. She had more of a spring to her step. She would follow our other cow around everywhere. They would lick each other and always were close together.  She started becoming more accepting of us too and would let us get closer to her. If you choose to purchase one single cow and do not have any other cows nearby, I would highly recommend getting a calf of some type for a companion. If you do not choose to have another cow around for your cow to have a companion, you may expect her to be a bit lonely and try to find other cow friends at least at first.

Jersey cow with kids

Routine is Important

Jerseys love routine. They like to do the same thing every day and can be a bit confused if you change things up on them. Having them do the same thing gives them peace and keeps them comfortable. There are even studies that show that keeping a good routine can reduce chances of your cow getting mastitis. Before we milk each morning, we will call the cows up. The cows know that when they hear me or one of the kids yell, “Here Cows. Come on,” that means it is time to come up for milking, or that is the signal to follow the one calling to a new section of pasture to graze. When cows know that they get something good after they are called, they want to come when you call. Quite often most of our cows will be waiting for us just outside the milk barn in the morning. They know it is milking time and that they will be fed and milked, and they are ready for their day to begin. When your cow knows your regular routine, it will be easy to work with her.

Making Introductions

Jerseys can be timid and nervous when being introduced to a new farm and family. Just as any person or animal may be nervous about a huge life change, your Jersey cow will probably take a few days to a week to become comfortable with her new surroundings. This being said, the best way to make the transition easier for you and for her is to put her into a small, secure pen as soon as you bring her home. This pen should have access to fresh water and hay, and should include or lead into your milking area. Each milking area can be so different from one farm to the next that yours may be a little scary to your cow the first time she sees it. Usually the best way to get your cow to come into your milking area, whether it be a barn, shed, stanchion, squeeze shoot, or even a small pen, would be to set up some type of hallway to walk your cow through to get to it. A couple gates or panels usually work well, but I have seen all different types of set ups that have a hall that leads to the milking area. Once your cow is familiar with your milking area, the hallway is not necessary, but it will definitely make transition for you and your cow easier as they get to know you and your set up.

Set a Calm Atmosphere

Jerseys like a calm, peaceful environment for milking time. Oftentimes large families are the ones looking for a family milk cow. This means your cow must get acquainted with lots of people of all different ages and sizes. We are a growing family—we have 6 children and one on the way. Our cows are quite familiar with being around children and hearing all the excitement and different voices. Having said that, during milking time they are much easier to milk if they don’t have loud distractions, or quick movements, or people walking in front of them. I would suggest that when you first bring your cow into milk that you have 2-3 calm people who care for her, and you can add more as your cow gets used to seeing them around the farm. I like to play music when I am milking our cows. They like bluegrass, hymns, and classical. This helps to keep the environment peaceful and calm and also blocks out some noises that may distract or scare the cows during milking. When I do have little ones in the barn, I usually have them sit in the back of the barn where they can see everything that is going on, but they are less likely to spook a cow during milking time.  When I am bringing a new heifer in to be milked, I usually keep the littles out of the barn.

Jersey cow with kids

New Surroundings

Jerseys are curious animals. They like to know what is around and what they can access.  The first time in a new pasture one of the first things they do is to walk the perimeter. They check their boundaries and find their food, water, and place to bed down. Once they have scoped out the place, they can start to calm down and eat, drink, or take a nap. This being said, when you move your cow to a new pasture, make sure all gates that need to be shut are shut, and that the fence is secure. They usually find an open gate or a down fence pretty quickly, and this may cause you some extra work. I love going out in the field with the cows and just sitting on the ground. Usually after a few minutes I will have a group of cows coming over to see what is going on and why I am sitting in the field. They will sniff my hands, face, and boots, and sometimes try to lick me or eat my hair or clothes. My kids like to crawl in the field and make tiny moos at the cows. The cows will in turn walk up to them and sniff them and give weird looks as to say, “What is going on here?” The kids think the cows give them weird looks because the cows think the kids are funny looking calves.

Making Friends With Your Jersey Milk Cow

Jerseys know who takes care of them. Jerseys can tell the difference between someone that is in your family and someone that they have never met. Each cow is different, and some may be more or less accepting of a new person, but just like with a dog that is a good friendly dog may not immediately run up to a stranger and lick all over them and want to play, it may take a few days for your new cow to be really friendly and personal with you as they are just getting to know you. Most of our cows let me walk up to them in the field. I walk around them a lot and I milk them every morning. My children will pet them in the field quite regularly, and oftentimes when a cow is taking a nap or lying in the shade chewing the cud, one of my children will sit right beside them or even climb on their back. Most of the cows are happy and content having them do this because they know them and are around them daily. They know that they are just coming to hang out and that they take care of them and do not plan to hurt them. Once you build a relationship with your cow, you will see that they are much more accepting of you doing different things with them.

Jersey cow with kids
Jersey cow with kids
Jersey cow with kids