Good news: Jersey Australia says independent studies confirm what Jersey farmers have been claiming for years; that Jersey cows are more profitable and sustainable. Photo by Cath Gray

Two new studies have revealed that Jerseys have the attributes that can make them Australia’s most profitable and longest-lasting cows.

Studies by consultants Steve Little and Scott Barnett show Jerseys have higher fertility, higher production efficiency and greater heat tolerance and longevity compared to other breeds, while modeling shows that Jerseys have up to 14% cost advantage over Holstein Friesians. to produce milk kg/Ms and better profitability of assets.

Jersey Australia engaged Dr Little of Capacity+ Ag Consulting to review evidence from published studies on the attributes of the Australian Jersey compared to other breeds.

Following the report of Dr Little Jersey — The most profitable and sustainable cow?, Jersey Australia engaged Mr Barnett of Scott Barnett & Associates to undertake desk economic modeling of Jersey versus Holstein Friesians in Australian dairy farming systems.

Jersey Australia chief executive Glen Barrett said the independent studies confirm what Jersey farmers have been saying for years: Jersey cows are more profitable and sustainable.

“We needed the facts to back up the appeal and now we have them. All the evidence is backed by research that will stand up to scrutiny,” he said.

Mr Barrett said the results of the studies would be used to raise awareness of the breed and inform farmers of the benefits of switching to Jerseys.

“Our ambition is to have 25% Jerseys in the national dairy herd by 2030,” he said.

“It’s achievable with the right strategies, and these studies will help us achieve that goal.”

Jerseys make up around 15% of the national herd and this figure has steadily increased over the past decade.

Dr. Little’s examination found that Jerseys produce 6-11% more energy corrected milk (ECM) than Holsteins per kilogram of dry matter intake; 26 to 31 percent more ECM per 100 kg body weight than Holsteins; have a feed absorption capacity approximately 14-21% greater than that of Holsteins per 100 kg of body weight; and have about five percent greater feed absorption capacity than Holsteins per unit metabolic weight.

“In doing this review, I discovered that Jerseys are remarkably different from other breeds in many ways,” Dr. Little said.

“I wish I had known what I now know about Jerseys and how to manage their nutrition when I was a young agricultural adviser.”

The fat and protein concentrations in Jersey milk are higher than those of Holsteins, and Jersey milk has higher concentrations of calcium, phosphorus and zinc, but a lower concentration of potassium.

“Fertility comes across as a significant benefit,” Dr. Little said.

They are also more tolerant of heat due to their coat, skin structure, subcutaneous fat layer, and body surface area to volume ratio.

“Jerseys tend to live longer, produce longer and survive subsequent lactations more frequently than Holsteins in purebred and mixed herds,” Dr. Little said.

“Increased longevity in a herd means the average milk production of the herd is higher and fewer non-productive replacement heifers are needed.

Jerseys’ ability to eat relative to their body weight is higher, and they spend more time grazing and eating more evenly throughout the day.

Mix: The review found that Jerseys seem to work well in Australian mixed-breed herds. Photo by Daneka Hill

The review found that Jerseys seem to perform well in mixed breed Australian herds, although those in straight Jersey herds produce more milk solids per year than those in mixed herds.

Follow-up economic modeling to assess the potential of Jersey cows to improve the profitability of Australian dairy companies revealed that the Jersey breed was as well positioned to produce a profitable outcome as Australia’s other major purebred dairy cow, the Holstein Friesian.

Mr Barnett said his report was based on general assumptions and was not definitive, but was designed to guide discussions on breed selection and identify under what conditions Jersey cattle were more profitable than Holstein cattle. Friesian.

Mr Barnett has developed two models: one with a high proportion of directly grazed grass (HiGrass) based on dairy farming systems in southern Victoria, Tasmania and south-eastern South Australia , and the second with a higher proportion of purchased concentrates and purchased forage, resulting in increased intake of DM (HiCons) fed reflecting systems in northern Victoria, NSW, WA and Queensland.

His study found that in the HiGrass system the investment cost was 17.24 kg/DM for the Jersey herd compared to $19.67 for the Holstein-Friesian herd, and in the HiCons system the cost of investment was 12.30 kg/DM for the Jersey herd, compared to $14.38. for the Holstein-Friesian herd.

He found that Jerseys had a significantly higher income per hectare and per feed used, however, their economic advantage was diminished by a lower market value per kilogram.

“The main relative disadvantage the breed seems to suffer is the sale value of excess stock (cull cows, surplus bulls and heifers),” he said.

“This disadvantage can be overcome through ongoing work on improving the beef supply chain and educating buyers about the benefits of beef stock.”

Barnett said the export market is driving up prices for Holstein heifers, creating a lower entry price for Jerseys, which improves their return on assets.

His modeling revealed that the Jerseys’ comparative advantage was more apparent in the low-grazing intake systems than in the high-grazing grass model.

“Jerseys are, at the very least, as good as Holstein-Friesians and have excellent production advantages that utilize their feed efficiency and result in an economic response,” he said.

Full reports are available at: