For decades, Jersey dairy cattle were an uncommon sight in the Texas Panhandle. However, that is no longer the case since Hilmar Cheese Co. located a plant there.
“There was really nothing here as far as Jerseys until the Hilmar plant was built,” Cherie Bayer, development director for American Jersey Cattle Association, told the Amarillo Globe-News.
Now, there are an estimated 70,000 Jersey cattle, including milking cows and young stock, in the Texas Panhandle.
Thanks to its smaller size, Bayer notes that the breed uses 11 percent less land and 32 percent less water than other dairy cows. In an area prone to drought and water restrictions, the breed is ideal for Texas producers.
“Water is a huge issue out here,” Bayer said. “And in the dairy business, it’s nice to have a cow that makes more efficient use of water and land and suits the market for milk and cheese production.”
One researcher with Texas AgriLife is helping the dairy industry determine how breed and conformation affects dairy longevity. Pablo Pinedo, ruminant animal health scientist with AgriLife Research in Amarillo, Texas, intends to use Jersey, Holstein and crossbred cattle under the same conditions to prove a “unique opportunity to analyze and compare the dynamic of culling in different breeds.”
Among Pinedo’s objectives is to “compare the productive life among Jerseys, Holsteins and their crosses in multi-breed dairy herds in the Texas High Plains region. “