Since we started breeding Jersey cattle 30 years ago, several genetic traits have emerged as desirable for the type of grass-fed dairy we operate. Since we sell raw milk as well as cream, butter and cheese, the components of the milk are important to the value, consistency, and yield of our products. Our A2A2 Polled Jersey bulls help us build the cows we need.
In addition to milk components, the polled (genetically hornless) trait has become extremely popular. Most of our customers now are interested only in using A2A2 polled Jersey bulls, with an emphasis on the homozygous polled (PP) trait. All offspring of a PP animal will be genetically hornless, versus a 50% chance of polled from a heterozygous (Pp), or polled-carrier animal.
Some of our customers want only registered, purebred cattle. There are differences between the terms “registered,” “purebred,” and “crossbred.” The American Jersey Cattle Association allows crossbred animals to be identified, with the “JX” prefix to designate them as Jersey-crossbred. AJCA also allows cattle that are not fully registered to be upgraded through a Generation-Count system that designates the number of crosses to a purebred sire an animal has in their known pedigree. For a more thorough and updated explanation of the Generation Count rules and potential registration status of an individual animal, see the AJCA website or call 614-861-3636 and ask to speak to someone in Herd Services.
In order to identify these traits in our cattle and provide our customers with a convenient, comprehensive way to evaluate and compare bulls, we have developed a simple 10-star rating system to assist with the assessment of milk proteins, horn/polled, and pedigree in our bulls.
With Holt Creek Jerseys, the following traits are a given:
Our animals are selected for functional utility and productive/reproductive efficiency. Over several generations, we have mostly fixed (corrected as well as stabilized) these characteristics in our herd:
Udder Quality: attachment, suspension, teat placement, and texture
Feet and Legs: no hoof trimming
Rumen capacity: the ability to harvest the maximum amount of forage possible and process it via the “fermentation vat” into high-quality milk.
Breed-back: conception rates to keep seasonal calving windows.
Parasite Resistance: both internal (worms) and external (flies, lice) are virtually nonexistent with good management practices.
Heat Tolerance: The grazing ability to harvest forage in heat and humidity.
Calfhood Vigor: newborns are standing and nursing within minutes, no tubing or bottle-feeding colostrum.
Bull Disposition: no aggressive, high-headed, dangerous bulls have ever been kept for breeding, even if they are A2A2 Polled Jersey bulls.
Maternal Instinct: Mother cows care for their calves and teach them how to graze.
NOTE: We do NOT select for size! We don’t measure the height of our cows or bulls. We have found that selection for the above characteristics produces a moderate-sized Jersey cow that has a mature weight of between 800-900 pounds. Many of our cows would be considered to be “small standard,” perhaps even “mid-sized,” but we do not practice single-trait selection for height.
Holt Creek Jerseys are 100% Grass-fed. That means no grain, ever.
Holt Creek Jerseys are Ranch-Raised. That means no confinement, ever. Calves are naturally suckled by their own mother or by a nurse cow for 6-8 months to ensure proper endocrine development and superior health.
The Holt Creek Jerseys 10-Star Rating System:
Individual Breeding Stock Attributes will carry a rating indicated by Zero (Red), One (Yellow), or Two (Green) Stars.
An animal’s final rating is given a number from 1-10 and is color coded for ease of comparison:
The maximum number of stars an animal can score is 10.
Here is the breakdown on trait scoring:
Sample Bull List:
We think this system of monitoring the traits of our A2A2 polled Jersey bulls helps us track progress, and it should make it easier for our customers to evaluate the breeding value of our bulls.