Frequent outbreaks of e. coli, salmonella, and other dangerous food-borne illnesses have caused many families to search for ways in which they can produce much of their food supply on even small parcels of land, such as their backyard or an adjoining small pasture. Called backyard farmers, these families often keep a flock of chickens to supply eggs and meat as well as other meat animals, such as rabbits, and some type of dairy animal to provide milk for drinking and making butter and cheese. While many choose goats to provide this milk, some families are now opting for small-breed dairy cows, such as miniature Jerseys, instead. Capable of producing enough milk to comfortably supply an average family with milk, cream, butter, and cheese, miniature Jerseys can be kept on smaller acreages than full-size cows, and their small stature makes working with them safer and more comfortable for children and adult family members. If you are planning to add a miniature Jersey to your backyard farm, here is what you need to know.
Invest in Health Testing First
Before agreeing to purchase any bovine, full-size or miniature, it is wise to have testing done to rule out communicable diseases that are common to cows your area and capable of infecting you or other livestock. Common bovine diseases that your cow should be tested for include:
- Bovine Tuberculosis (TB)
- Brucellosis (often called Bangs)
- Bovine Leukosis (BLV)
Until the test results are back and you know the cow is healthy, she should be left with the seller's herd or kept in quarantine at your property to ensure that no other animals can come into contact with her.
Consider Cosmetic Dehorning
Another thing to consider when purchasing any size Jersey cow is the fact that she will most likely have beautifully curved horns that are very sharp and capable of doing serious injury to human flesh. If the cow you are purchasing has not been previously dehorned, consider have your veterinarian remove the horns surgically in a process often called cosmetic dehorning.
Although the process looks somewhat frightening due to the amount of blood that may result, your veterinarian will ensure that your cow is kept comfortably anesthetized during the procedure and afterward. Once the horns have been removed, the skin will be pulled together and stitched to aid healing and create a cosmetically appealing appearance.
Vaccinate to prevent diseases
In addition to having your miniature Jersey tested for common diseases prior to purchase, you will also want to have your veterinarian determine what types of vaccinations she may need to remain healthy and create a plan for administering those vaccines as soon as possible.
Talk to a professional, such as one at Marcum Road Animal Hospital, for more information.