Centuries ago settlers were coming in droves to the New World and they had plans to stay. For most, only the necessities were brought. One of those being, you guessed it, the family milk cow. When selecting a breed, naturally, the Jersey milk cow made an ideal choice. Their milk is not only more nutritious then most other dairy breeds, but the high butter fat content would also provide a necessary food source in greater abundance. The Jersey cow was like a bundled survival package!
When the Old World Jerseys made it to America they undoubtedly would be doing a lot of walking, a lot of milking, and from time to time, a little oxen work. They would begin foraging the eastern coastal grasses, make their way through the Appalachian forests, cross the Mississippi, blaze across the mid-west plains, survive the Rockies, and finally, make it out to the western coastal grasses. Their centuries long exposure to hardy stock and the wild frontier of the new world would evolve these adorable English Isle Standard Jerseys into the Hardy Hybrid of today; The AMERICAN Miniature Jersey.
During the end of the depression era, however, this American hybrid of the English Isle Standard Jersey, was on the demise as more and more were being sent to the sale barns. Fortunately, a few breeders, recognized the potential and value of the hardier, more feed efficient, and better adept to the American environment, milk cow, and were able to preserve this breed, known today as the American Miniature Jersey (AMJA registry), the Miniature Jersey (MJHB registry), or Lessor Jersey (IMCBR registry).
So , what has been and what is being done to preserve this rare breed?
For one, a registry was formed, actually a few were formed, but for the sake of simplicity... A man by the name of Tim O'Donnell, one of the oldest Miniature Jersey breeders in the country, was asked by the International Miniature Cattle Breed Registry, to head the venture and set the standards for turning this hybrid into a pure bred. By definition, a pure bred will breed true, meaning reproduce consistent physical characteristics to its offspring.
The standard for the breed is essentially, a Miniature Jersey will hold 7/8 or more the milking and physical characteristics of an old world Jersey and 1/8 or less of the miniature size and physique of a cross cattle breed, typically Dexter. Over time, careful record keeping has allowed the breed to grow and reproduce more and more consistently.
Since then, breeders have continued working with all Miniature Jersey Cattle registries to carefully select and breed high quality cattle. Furthermore, with the use of several technological dvancements, such as DNA verification and BBR Jersey influence testing, we hope to provide families with not only a fine little milk cow, but a Pure Bred Miniature Jersey.