Can I breed my Jersey to a Dexter bull?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Rockfish, Oct 19, 2010.

  1. Rockfish

    Rockfish Well-Known Member

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    Or to a Highland cross (Piney)?

    Am having trouble finding a Jersey bull to breed my Jersey back with. AI failed twice.

    Any advice?

    Thanks.
     
  2. genebo

    genebo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Dexter X Jersey is one of the most popular crosses.

    Genebo
    Paradise Farm
     
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  3. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you have a low quality Jersey, any of the smaller breeds is fine. A search of each of the breeds will give you average birth weights.

    The Highlands I've seen around here are selling as cull cattle, not worth much.

    I find cross breeding Jersey distasteful. But if you are sure you are going to eat whatever she has, I guess it doesn't matter.

    If I couldn't find a Jersey bull and had tried AI twice, I'd look for a better AI Tech and try a third time.
     
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  4. Rockfish

    Rockfish Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. Not many AI techs around here. The one I used runs a dairy and does his own herd .... I am getting desparate. She is 18 months from freshening (and still giving 3+ gal/day). I am set for next year (raising my own Jersey bull calf born this summer), so I don't mind using a cross calf for meat. I did find a Jersey bull on craigslist and a Dexter - the Dexter is much more affordable and closer.

    Thanks for the input.
     
  5. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

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    Have you giving the shots that help bring her into heat?
     
  6. matt_man

    matt_man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would personally prefer an angus/jersey cross. Do you have any cattlemen close by that might let you run her in with his herd the day she comes into heat?
     
  7. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    FYI, a Jersey/Dexter cross makes a very nice little milk cow for the family that doesn't want 5 gallons a day.
     
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  8. kmorisett

    kmorisett Well-Known Member

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    Plus, everything I have ever read says that Jersey bulls are mean little things and Dexter bulls are generally pretty agreeable.
     
  9. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You are correct. But since imput costs for a pure Jeresy is the same for a Jersey/Dexter cross and the expected output, as infered by you, is less, maybe that isn't the most efficient choice.

    Like the guy with a Ford one ton pickup truck. He decided he didn't need all that towing capacity, so he put in a 4 cylinder engine out of a Pinto. It gave him the reduced towing he was looking for, but it still was a poor choice. Perhaps he would have been better off just selling what he had and buying want he wanted. Mixing parts from different vehicles can be interesting, but you generally end up with a less useful vehicle.:bash:

    IMHO, the same goes for cattle breeds.
     
  10. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    The calves from a Jersey/Dexter cross (known as Belfair) are going to be beefier than from a pure Jersey. The cow herself will be smaller than the typical Jersey. Belfairs are less prone to hypocalcemia because they tend not to dump their heart and soul into a milk bucket as Jerseys do. Belfairs do not require the intensive feeding a good Jersey cow requires to keep her from producing herself to death. Cows are not trucks. If your cow wants to produce 5 gallons a day, you'd better take that 5 gallons, at least for the first few months, or risk mastitis. Oh, and all that production does in fact require more feed, more concentrates, so if you want to do lower-input dairying, an animal that is better at holding her condition on grass alone than the typical modern Jersey is might, in fact, be a better choice.

    My husband's uncle, for whom I have great respect and affection, and whose farm I have visited many, many times, has a commercial dairy of lovely, purebred Jersey cows. For the reasons above, I purchased a Dexter. I didn't purchase a Belfair because I couldn't find one.

    I'm just trying to answer the OP's original question by saying that there are plenty of people out there who would be interested enough in a Belfair heifer that it would make good sense to cross the Jersey to a Dexter if there aren't any purebred Jersey bulls available. Any bull calf produced will be comparably beefy to a Highland or Angus cross.

    You're certainly welcome to your (strong) opinion, but there are other points of view, and I thought I'd go ahead and share one of them.
     
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  11. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thank you for accepting my opinion, I am glad to read yours. My opinion is the results of over 40 years of working with and studying cattle. I read the promotional article in Organic Gardener 30 years ago, for the Scottish Highlanders. Calving ease, great protective mothers, lean beef, etc. Then I've witnessed dozens of hopeful folks buy, raise and eventually throw in the towel on Highlanders. I've seen good, well cared for long horned Highlanders go for half what Hereford or Angus sell for. I've seen some cross bred minor breeds advertized over and over for far under the going prices for identifiable breeds. Quarterhorse/ Belgin cross, Arab/ Appy cross, and many more, all selling for far less than their more identifiable breed partners. Belted Galloways were to be the next greatest thing. Another flash in the pan, niche' market. Eventually, someone ends up with livestock that requires more salesmanship to the unknowing and everyone knows. Angora and Emu are other examples. I've seen the scams. I've seen the results of cross breeding.

    I wonder what your husband's dairy farming uncle thinks about cross breeding the Jersey.

    The Belfair info I was able to locate says that this non-registered cross is between a Dexter and a Mini Jersey.

    If the Jersey/ Dexter is beefier than a pure Jersey, wouldn't that only matter if it were a bull/steer?
     
  12. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    First, the OP said there was not a Jersey bull available, and AI wasn't working. Second, the OP wants the cow bred. So, given that the cow has to be bred, and given that there is no Jersey bull available, we're going to have a cross bred. Sure, crossbreds tend to sell for less than purebreds. No kidding. My point is that if you're going to cross a Jersey with something else, a Dexter would be a good option. That's all.

    No, Belfair is a cross between a Dexter and a Jersey. At least according to the person who came up with the name in the first place a long time ago, who is a friend of mine. I was using the term because it's faster to type than "Dexter/Jersey cross."

    As to your question about beefiness, beefier cows tend to throw beefier calves, right? So if a person is looking for a *dual purpose* cow, a beefier cow is a nice thing. Additionally, unlike some skeletal Jerseys I've seen (not on the family farm), a good, beefy, dual purpose cow is not likely to milk herself into a grave, where as a high-producing Jersey will unless she gets pumped full of expensive concentrates. It all hinges on what fits each particular situation.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2010
  13. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    You can cross the Highland your Jersey and get a nice beef calf or as mentioned above the Dexter for the Belfair. We used to have Highlands and Dexters and there is a good market for both and especially for Highland beef, you just have to know how to market them. A lot of families too who want a nice milker but not the worries if the high production breeds.

    They both throw small calves too so no worries on that.

    The main thing at this point is to go ahead and get that cow bred you don't want to leave her open too long and any calf is better than none right? :)
     
  14. ufo_chris

    ufo_chris Well-Known Member

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    What about Hybrid Vigor ? Another plus for crosses!
    Chris
     
  15. Rockfish

    Rockfish Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the advice. The Dexter/Jersey cross looks interesting. - Jim
     
  16. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Jim, if there is nothing else available and AI is not working for you, a Dexter or Angus is a very good choice over a Jersey. I don't know what your wanting to do with the resulting calf but a heifer born to a Jersey/Dexter will make a nice house cow, a bull will go into the freezer nicely and either could be sold for a nice bit of money.

    And Laura, you debate very well.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
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  17. Aussie Bob

    Aussie Bob New Member

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    The Dexter x is a no-brainer --good size bull for your Jersey ,beefy background for better eating meat ,and a better temperament than a Jersey bull which are notorious for being cantankerous ,if not dangerous .Plenty of Aussie smallholders are into Dexters for house cows which will throw a good eating steer calf but still give a good milking calf if you get a heifer . They are an important dual purpose cow in Ireland after all.

    I find purebred Jersey meat to be too yellow in the fat and it can taste a bit "sweet" at times ,something I don't like .But some local oldtimers swear by a barren Jersey heifer ,grown out a bit before slaughter .I'll stick to my beefies .
     
  18. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    Welcome to the board, Bob! It's nice to see a new face.

    And thanks, Ronney.
     
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  19. Timberline

    Timberline Keeper of the Cow

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    I have raised several Jersey x Dexter calves and I really like the cross for a small family on a homestead. If I had a large family, or was in the dairy business I would certainly want to keep the Jerseys purebred. But for a small family, the amount of milk produced by just one Jersey is often too much. We also enjoy the beef from this cross and always have a list of people hoping we have an extra steer they can buy. I have never had trouble selling a heifer for good money, the demand for these crossbreds is certainly there.

    We are a family of two, and even if I choose to make cheese two or three times a week, what on earth am I going to do with 3 to 5 gallons or more of milk a day? Believe me, I have tried. I've had some really nice, registered Jersey cows (and a couple of Guernseys) over the years and, for us, it's just too much. Too much milk; too much time; too much feed to keep the cow's condition up; too much worry about milk fever, ketosis and mastitis. There are no dairies anywhere close to us so finding a bottle calf or two to take up the extra milk is difficult, expensive and risky (disease). I also raised purebred Dexters for 12 years or so. They are a very nice breed that I enjoyed a lot. To do well in that breed, you need to have registered calves to sell and I just couldn't take the politics of the Dexter world anymore. I now have a couple Dexter x Herefords and I couldn't be happier with them. Chris mentioned hybrid vigor (heterosis) and it is a wonderful thing in crossbreds.

    I also enjoy milking a nice beef cow, plenty of milk for us (but not too much!) without all the dairy breed worries. I like to share milk with the calf and milk every other day or so. We can go camping, go on short trips, etc., without having to find a cow sitter (just about impossible around here) or having to worry about dealing with mastitis when I get back home.

    My point is, there is a right type of cow for each homestead. No one person can say, I like to breed purebred Jersey, or Dexter, or Angus, or Hereford, therefor you should, too. There is a place for every type of cow, be it purebred or crossbred, or a mutt made of many breeds.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2010
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  20. GaMntHomestead

    GaMntHomestead Well-Known Member

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    I have a jersey heifer and have been thinking about what I could breed her with. A dexter seems to be something to look into. I have till may before she is ready to be breed, so I have some time to study up on it. I have a jersey bull but am moving to a smaller acreage and think I will need something smaller. Thinking of selling the jersey bull and just "renting" a dexter to breed my heifer. Now to find a dexter in Ga.
     
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