​About the Breed

The Miniature Jersey is a relatively new breed developed over the last 30 years by crossing small standard Jerseys, similar in size and stature to the original Jersey Island cattle, with other miniature cattle breeds like Dexter and Lowline. Even though the Miniature Jersey is still a developing breed, some animals are starting to reach purebred status thanks to meticulous breeding programs.

Miniature Jerseys come in most shades of brown, from light fawn all the way to a dark mulberry, and often have white markings (commonly known as a broken coat or painted). They will have a delicate, dished face with a black nose and a white or off-white band around the muzzle. Their hooves are black, and their switch can be black, white, or a combination of the two. Cows have well-attached udders and produce plenty of rich, creamy milk to raise a calf and feed your family, without the overwhelming production of many dairy breeds. 
Standard vs Miniature Jersey
The most noticeable difference between standard Jerseys and miniatures is their size. A mature standard Jersey measures 50 inches or taller, while miniature cows measure no taller than 44 inches at the top of the hip at three years of age, and bulls no taller than 46 inches.

The smaller size of the Miniature Jersey makes them less intimidating and easier to manage. They require less feed and space, thrive on grass, and are hardy cattle that winter well in our northern climate and have few health issues.

Miniature Jerseys are gentle cows, and the miniature bulls are typically mild-mannered and docile, unlike their standard counterparts, which have a reputation of being high-strung and aggressive.

All of this makes the Miniature Jersey the ultimate family milk cow!
​The origins of the Miniature Jersey breed
by Tracy Howe, CMJA Secretary

Miniature Jerseys, as a breed, have been developing throughout the United States for the past several decades. They have been promoted by several enthusiasts and hobbyists who have selectively bred smaller-sized animals to achieve and maintain miniature size.

Much of the actual history and information with regard to the origin of the Miniature Jersey is largely unverifiable, with many people taking, or being given credit for, the development of the breed. However, what can be verified is that the original supporters of the Miniature Jersey breed were:

• Ralph Martin of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, who in the 40s and 50s began collecting and breeding the smaller-sized Jersey cattle, which were falling out of favour, from neighbouring farms and through auction barn purchases.

• Nathan Harris of Virginia partnered with Mr. Martin to seek out and purchase the smaller, less favourable Jerseys with a focus on preserving the smaller type.

• Fonnie Thoman, a breeder whose herd of Miniature Jerseys was once over 55 head in the early 2000s, before her illness in her later years.

The most well-known lines of Miniature Jersey are those of Riverview, Barnyard, Martin, Snow, Dexter Corner, and Sure Shot. These early lines and breeders focused on retaining the feed conversion and production abilities of what we consider 'typical' of the Jersey cow while also focusing on the hardiness traits of the original Isle cows.

Interesting to note is a statement made by Mr. David Hambrook, President of the Royal Jersey Historical Society on the Isle of Jersey, that there have always been smaller-sized Jersey cattle since the original importation. Still, these were rarely, if ever, under 42 inches in height at maturity and certainly not under 36 inches. This indicates that the miniature cattle were developed and not imported.

Mr. Hambrook has also been quoted as saying the US Miniature Jersey developed as a subset due to continually breeding small Jersey with small Jersey, in much the same way as the Canadians have bred a large Jersey. Furthermore, Mr. Hambrook has been said to have stated that the widely promoted assumption that the Miniature Jersey found in the US represents the animal once found and still to be found on the Isle to be incorrect.
Canadian Miniature Jersey Association
Box 565
Spirit River, AB
T0H 3G0