Small scale farmers thinking of getting into dairy farming should consider Jersey cows over Friesian because they are more profitable and less costly to maintain.
A Friesian cow is a big animal hence it requires more space. It also eats more and excretes more waste. More waste means it also more cumbersome and costly to take care of it. In addition, it has fertility issues and lameness.
On the other hand, a jersey cow is small in size hence it needs less space, eats less and produces more milk per kilo of meat than Friesian.
Friesian cows are either white or black with black-or-white patches on their bodies. Jersey cows are reddish in color.
Another advantage of the Jersey cow is that they are Jersey cows are more adaptable to hot climates.
The Kenyan market is milk-volume oriented, which makes the Friesian breed the better option for all commercial operations especially in the Kenyan highlands like Nairobi, Central areas and cooler parts of the Rift Valley like Nakuru, Naivasha, Kitale and Laikipia, among others.
But being heavy feeders and are, susceptible to various diseases, it makes them need highly intensive management to keep them productive. This means they are best kept in large-scale producer farms with better resources but they are not the best producers when kept by small-scale farmers with limited feed resources.
However in milk production, Friesian cows produce more milk in their lifetime. While a Friesian cow produces an average of 19,000 pounds of milk in its lifetime, a Jersey cow produces an average of 13,000 pounds of milk in its lifetime.
Another difference that can be seen between Jersey cows and Friesian cows is in the butterfat content. In butterfat content, Jersey cows score better than Friesian cows. A Jersey cow has about 4.7 per cent of butterfat content while a Friesian cow has about 3.7 per cent of butterfat.
Jersey cows are the smallest dairy breeds with cows weighing 400 to 500kg and bulls 540 to 820kg. They have hard black hooves that make them less vulnerable to lameness.
Unfortunately, they have greater susceptibility to milk fever and calve to weaker calves that require more attentive management in cold weather than other dairy breeds. However, they are less susceptible to mastitis and udder disorders.
The Jersey produces more milk on less feed than other breeds. This makes them most ideal for farmers in smaller dairy operations where feed resources are limiting. They are renowned for their ease of calving with heifers reaching reproductive age earlier than other breeds and come into milk production earlier. They are more heat tolerable, therefore, widely adapted in areas with hot weathers.
What is however most important is that farmers need to choose animals that are well-suited to their production systems and environments to make the most out of their enterprise.