This is the first one of my posts in which I will attempt to educate you (and myself) about the major dairy breeds. My expertise on this subject, as we all know, is far-reaching. (Be kind.) However, I may have picked the farmer’s brain a little. He’s kinda’ smart about this stuff.
I will start with the most popular dairy breed: the Holstein (Hole-steen). A distinct black and white pattern, this breed can range from almost totally black to purely white in color. Holsteins are the largest dairy breed and produce the most milk. A baby calf usually weighs about 90 pounds at birth. (Can you imagine birthing that? And I thought 7 pounds was bad!) A full-grown cow weighs around 1500 pounds.
On average, a Holstein produces 55-65 pounds of milk a day. To put it into a more understandable amount for people like me, that’s around 7-8 gallons of milk per cow per day. Again, this is only an average. Some Holsteins can produce much more than that. It all really depends on the feeding program the dairy farmer uses.
We’ve been asked many times why we don’t milk Holsteins at our dairy. Some of this has to do with the farmer’s partiality toward Jerseys. He grew up milking them and just prefers them. Secondly, our milk barn wasn’t built for the massive size of a Holstein. They can fit, but it’s a pretty tight squeeze. Thirdly, yes, Holsteins produce a lot of milk, but they also cost a lot to feed. Jersey’s are more cost efficient due to their smaller size and the amount of butterfat and protein they produce relative to the lesser amount they eat. Butterfat and protein are the two things that make a dairy farmer money. If anyone has ever had Jersey milk, they’ll be able to tell you that it’s very rich with lots of cream. Holstein milk has more water in it. In my city-girl mind, I think of “Jersey milk” as whole milk and “Holstein milk” like 2%.
There you have it! My little dairy lesson for you all today! I know, I know, my knowledge left you spell-bound. I’m one of those weirdos that likes to learn about everything. My mind never stops and I’m a complete spaz. (I hide it pretty well, but the farmer knows…) Just be glad you’re not me and that you don’t constantly get compared to cattle. Trust me, I know all the ways in which we’re alike.
Stay tuned for my lesson on Brown Swisseseses =) (I’m saving the best (Jerseys) for last)
The Dairy Maid