The MJHB&R stands on firm ground with DNA proven cattle. Both money and time has been invested in traveling, collecting photos, documenting, acquiring DNA samples, submitting DNA for mapping, and personally interviewing the original developers of the Miniature Jersey cattle breed. We are confident in our findings.
We have also spent many hours and resources sorting out and correcting pedigrees with the use of DNA as our rule, as well as verifying parentage of the cattle in the Miniature Jersey Herd Book & Registry.
"You can be assured of accurate records with this registry.
Truth and integrity are our standards"
The MJHB&R is the original and ONLY Herd Book and sole Registry dedicated to the genetic preservation of this breed of small dairy cattle. It is made available to its membership online, 24/7/365 with over 1300 cattle photos and verified pedigree entries in less than five years of being a registry! No other Miniature Jersey registry can claim this achievement!
The MJHB&R just celebrated our 8th anniversary 10/17/19!
For over 28 years now, we have been in love with Jersey cows. We no longer keep standard Jerseys here, and have increased our personal herd of mini's to well over 25 head. Most are all high percentage Jersey bloodlines, all are DNA typed and registered. We actually milk them twice daily here at our farm and use them for our family food supply. So, this is not a hobby for us...it is a lifestyle. This Herd Book & Registry is a reflection of our love affair with these wonderfully functional and beautiful cattle. Please read on...
The American history on the miniature Jersey breed, where it has come from and where it is going...
Research into the history of these smaller dairy cows reminds us that the original old fashioned Jerseys were first imported into this country as "Old World" standard Jerseys around 1850 or so, from the British Isle of Jersey (Alderney) in the UK. Many people have taken credit for their existence here in America and importation into this country with much being unverifiable, so it will not be repeated here. However, we do know that the original imported Jerseys were not as tall as the typical standard Jersey we see in American commercial dairies today, yet they were not actual miniatures, either.
One man in Dobson, North Carolina, Ralph Martin (deceased), was a verifiable person who began collecting the smaller Jersey cows locally from obscure farms, sale barns or auctions and bringing their numbers to popularity. Mr. Martin himself, never imported any cattle nor knew anyone personally who did. Per Dorothy "Miss Dot" (Mrs. Martin - deceased) and others, there was no "old man Snow" who supposedly sold Mr. Martin his first small Jersey cattle. This is only a legend and repeated from site to site with no validation. Mr. Martin had a good eye for cattle and located his stock, from neighboring farms and sale barns, then began breeding them himself.
Another godfather of this breed is Mr. Nathan Harris, a resident of Fries, Virginia (and friend of Ralph Martin), who still owns a few little dairy cows today at his farm in the mountains of Virginia, although not actively breeding them now. He partnered with Martin on many occasions to search for and purchase these little dairy cows from the hills and hollers of Virginia. Together they both have multiplied and preserved the original smaller standard Jersey type dairy cows. These men would be known as the original creators of this breed.
Others have followed in their footsteps though, as interest increased. Mr. Martin and Mr. Harris located, bred and sold as many "Guinea Jerseys" (smaller Jerseys) as they could find and did some cross breeding with them as well. Some people considered Guinea Jerseys the original smaller Jerseys while others say that the Guinea's were "throwbacks" and survivors from the Depression Era. There is no evidence to document the story of the "Guinea" Jersey, even today. We consider the name "Guinea" a pen name for the small Jerseys of today.
Before her death, Dorothy, Ralph Martin's wife, shared with me that Ralph never once registered a single cow that he owned or sold. He rarely even named them, except for his favorites. So, some of his lineages were original smaller Jerseys from the 1940's to 1950's that were descendants from or survived the Depression Era. (Any of the Guinea Jersey descendants that we see today, came out of the Depression Era and were mostly smaller because of malnourishment. The ones that did survive this period of time, gave birth to scrawny, smaller calves, if they survived. It is because of this lack of nutrition, that they remained smaller and were given the pen name "Guinea Jerseys'. )
For the most part, the original imported smaller standard or Guinea Jerseys are a thing of the past, yet a few still remain in the lineages of our cattle today. And since Mr. Martin never registered any cattle, it is hard to determine with certainty, the purity or lineage of any cattle claimed to have been his or sold by him. Many are proud to own stock originally purchased from Martin. His son Ansley and Martin's wife both confirmed this to me directly.
There are other breeders who later bred standard Jerseys to other naturally smaller dual purpose or beef breeds such as Dexter (called "Belmonts" or "Belfairs" depending on who you talk to), Lowline Angus. Galloway, British Whites and even Zebu's, etc., which brought the original medium size of the imported Jerseys down in some offspring, to what we now call the "miniature" version of Jersey cows. These very small sizes do not naturally appear in nature, but have on occasion happened as a fluke of nature, as with any breed. They were considered "runts" in the UK whenever born this small naturally, and destroyed. This crossing with other breeds also gave these little dairy cows their "polled" genetics as well as introduced "pink" noses in some cattle. True, original island Jersey cattle have black noses and horns, without exception. Polling in heritage Jersey Island bulls has only recently become popular there for exporatation of semen. They still tether cattle by their horns on hillsides there, so horns are important to them.
So, most of the smaller sizes we have today in America are what I would call a "designer breed". These "miniature" cattle were never imported from anywhere...they were created and bred here in the USA beginning about 30 years ago. This has also been verified in writing by David Hambrook, President of the Royal Jersey Historical and Agricultural Society on the Isle of Jersey. There have always been smaller sized Jersey cattle since the original importation, but those were rarely, if ever, under 42" in height at maturity and certainly not 36" at maturity! Please do the research and you will find the truth, as we did. (Mr. David Hambrook, the Registrar for the Island Herd Book is a wealth of information.)
When these miniature cattle were produced by crossbreeding smaller standard Jersey cows with a naturally small beef type or dual purpose bulls, the offspring were then bred to other smaller crossed Jersey cattle, and sometimes "line bred" or "inbred" to try to preserve the miniature characteristics while also maintaining the dairy qualities of the natural Jerseys. This process of crossing, then breeding back to others of higher purity, takes many, many years of producing to achieve a consistency in the breed. And this is also why today, that one can breed a miniature to another miniature yet get a small standard offspring. Genetics will still have the last say.
We give full credit to all of the breeders of the past, who decided to breed and keep these cows producing for us today. They are to be commended for their diligence and persistance to improve on the miniature version of the Jersey breed for homestead farms. It is through trial and error in their development that these little cows have remained popular today.
All of the documented historical evidence that I have found to date supports the above facts. If there is documented evidence in contrary to what I present here, please bring it forward. This is also why there are so few miniatures available today. We consider any cattle which have been bred back to other more pure Jerseys for at least 4 generations away from the original 50% crossing to bring the size down, about as pure in Jersey as they can be for the most part, but never full blood or purebred. The designations currently used are:
- 50% or 1/2 (being a product of a small or dual purpose bull and a small standard Jersey cow)
- 3/4ths (being one generation breeding up from the 50% sire and dam)
- 7/8ths (being two generations breeding up from the 50% sire and dam)
- 15/16ths (being three generations breeding up from the 50% sire and dam)
As the number of larger Jersey cows rose for the commercial dairies, the smaller cows found themselves in dwindling numbers. Smaller farms went away with industrialization as commercial herds were developed. Since this time and the resurgence of small family farmsteads. Slowly but surely, they are finding their places once again on homesteads. Through proper breeding and careful culling, they are today flourishing on the farms of the future. There should always be a place for this smaller milking breed on the smaller farms of today.
So in a nutshell, exactly what are the sizes and characteristics of miniature Jersey cattle?
In our Registry and Herd Book, we have elected to announce the sizing of our cattle entries to be declared to all be "miniature if under 42" at the highest place on the hip at three to four years of age. The smallest of the miniature version of these cows will typically stand 38”- 42" while the upper end of the height is 44" (considered a small standard Jersey). Both are the perfect size for home milking. Both sizes can produce up to 4 gallons of deliciously rich milk daily, if well fed. They do well as grass fed only with good mineral supplementation and take less feed overall than their standard sized counterparts. So more of these smaller cows can graze per acre without overgrazing, as with larger dairy cows. They will continue to grow in smaller increments up until the age of five years reaching their lifetime height and weight by this time. The temperament in many of these cows is mild compared to their larger dairy relatives. Even the bulls in the miniature variety seem to be more docile than the standard milk breeds if handled often and properly cared for. For a more refined definition, please refer to the "Standards" tab.
Why is the availability of these little cows so scarce?
There are no current accurate counts to know exactly how many of these actual miniature exist, but with care, attention and a well maintained Herd Book & Registry, this is changing. There were only a small handful of people interested in producing these miniature Jersey cattle for many years. As interest grew (as well as the invention of the internet to locate them) so did the numbers of breeders and cows. There were many years until there were enough miniature cattle to begin recording them and even then, the focus was still mostly on crossbred animals. Today, it is different and we now have this impeccable resource that is DNA supported, to track, prove, record and preserve these lineages.
The goals of this website are to carefully consider and verify as accurately as possible using DNA, pedigrees and other pertinent information for new purchasers as well as breeders alike, to be able to determine how best to grow the numbers of miniature Jersey cattle, while assuring the best characteristics of the breed are kept intact and passed on to future generations. And although every attention to detail and verification will be applied here, there will always be the small chance that an animal may be proven “unqualified” (by DNA) at any point before or after entry into this Herd Book & Registry, in which case will change the status of any animal listed as new information comes forth. We will verify, then document, the history of each animal entered if available, for the preservation of the lineages represented here.
Through diligent research and the use of DNA, we have corrected 63 animal lineages to date, which have been wrong for years!
Our Registry stands alone in the use of proven genetics with the most current technology, eradication of the Chondrodysplasia gene from our breed registry and DNA. Therefore, any animal entered into our Herd Book and Registry has been verified and proven to be exactly who we represent them to be.
So, with this in mind, we hope you find the information useful and informative. This truly is “a special place for special bovines.”
PLEASE NOTE: All information represented in this Herd Book & Registry will be verified to the best of our ability for accuracy before being recorded. There will be some missing pieces of history for some animals that may never be fully verified due to deaths of animals as well as the humans who owned them. Too much time was allowed to pass from the beginning of the registries without having an accessible Herd Book for owners and breeders to access. We will try to recapture that almost lost history now in these pages and with your help. The owner of this website is not responsible for any incorrect information contained herein, nor liable in any manner for any misrepresentation whether or not intentional. This information is presented as a resource only. Please do the research on your own before the purchase of any animal represented on this site for sale or otherwise. The information presented here is only as good as the verified sources since so much time has passed before this Herd Book and Registry was established. Thank you