When raising cows for beef, you’re considering not only their temperament and susceptibility to illness but also their cost and the flavor of the meat.
Jersey cows are known as friendly cows and pretty good milkers.
But are they good animals to raise for meat?
Jersey cows are known to produce good and tasty meat. They are docile, hardy, and relatively inexpensive but generally considered dairy cows. They make great milkers because of their milk’s high protein and butter fat content.
While you may not want to raise them strictly for beef, sending them to be butchered as cull cows when you’re done milking them is a good idea.
If you’re considering raising Jerseys or already do, it’s good to know all the pros and cons of these breeds.
Keep reading to learn about how best to raise Jersey cows and why.
Are Jerseys Better as Beef Cows or Milkers?
As mentioned before, the Jersey is vastly considered a dairy breed.
Traditional beef breeds like Angus cows are more commonly raised as cattle for meat.
This doesn’t necessarily mean Jerseys must be strictly raised for milk.
But remember, things are as they are for a reason.
Jerseys make great dairy cows, and there are some real drawbacks to raising these animals for meat.
Cons of Raising Jersey Cows for Meat
Here are some of the challenges you would face if you chose to raise Jerseys strictly for their meat:
- Return on investment
Because Jerseys are small cows, they don’t have as much meat on their bones as larger breeds.
In theory, they are not one of the more expensive cows to raise.
However, you have to put more into them if you want to keep these cows for meat because they are so small.
For your animals’ health, it’s important to balance out whatever grain you feed them with grass.
Jerseys are hard to fatten compared to Angus or Holsteins, another dairy breed.
This is so important because of the money you’re putting into your herd.
When you send your animals to slaughter, you will be paid based on their carcass weight.
The fact is that a Jersey will have a smaller carcass size and produce fewer pounds of meat than other breeds.
While they aren’t cut out to be an ideal beef cow, Jerseys are great milkers, and it’s good to send them to slaughter as cull cows later in life.
Pros of Raising Jersey Cows for Meat
The biggest positive of raising Jerseys as beefers are their meat’s taste.
But this doesn’t mean they should be kept solely for this purpose.
We recommend you only send them to be butchered as cull cows when their production decreases significantly or they become injured.
Older dairy cows who are no longer the best milkers have been found to have a stronger beef taste when sent to slaughter.
If anything, the taste of the meat is one more reason to get Jerseys as milkers and only butcher them later on.
Why Raise Jerseys as Dairy Cows?
We’ve discussed why these animals aren’t the best choice as beef steers for farms running a meat operation.
However, for a dairy operation, Jerseys are a wonderful pick!
For one thing, they belong to a subset of cows with the A2A2 gene.
This means they produce A2 milk, the most desirable type for people to drink.
A2 milk is good for consumers’ digestion and health and has even decreased the risk of contracting some diseases.
Dairy farmers also know how important the content of a day steer’s milk is.
As the adage goes, it’s about quality, not quantity.
Jerseys have high butterfat and protein content in their milk, making it more valuable when you sell it.
They’re smaller than Holsteins and other milkers, producing less milk overall. But the quality makes up for this shortcoming.
Furthermore, if you raise Jerseys in your milking herd, you will still be able to send them to slaughter later.
So, in a way, you raise them as a dairy steer and a beef steer.
Jerseys as Cull Cows
So, if Jerseys make such good milkers, why use them for beef?
Farms send retired dairy cows to be slaughtered to get them off the farm and still earn money from them.
When you send a cow to be slaughtered, you need to know they are protected by the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act.
This means the animal must be stunned into unconsciousness before they are slaughtered.
Here are some other things you may be worried about as it pertains to cull cows:
- Costs and earnings
- Tenderness and flavor of beef
Yield and Earnings
The fact remains: Jerseys are small cows, and they aren’t worth as much as larger animals like the Angus when butchered.
The carcass yield won’t be as high, even if you’ve raised them for longer as a dairy cow.
You’ll still end up with fewer pounds of beef.
But if you’ve kept these cows on your dairy operation for any period, it is a much smaller concern when they don’t weigh in quite as well as you want them to.
You aren’t losing money overall this way.
Quality of the Meat
You might think an older cow would produce less tender meat.
But when you send a cull cow, the meat will all be ground.
The tenderness won’t be a concern.
So, the age of your cow isn’t important here.
As for the taste of beef, many farmers have reported positive experiences.
Some even claim the meat from older cull cows has a stronger flavor and is more desirable than the beef from younger beef steers.
This is especially true if you care well for your cows and make good animal health decisions.
Many large conventional farms that sell their meat to restaurants and stores don’t take good care of their animals’ health, often feeding them too much corn and rotting out their stomachs.
By caring for your herd’s health, you make the products taste better too!
Related: Can you drink milk from a beef cow?