Did you know that Jersey pregnancies are five days shorter than the average cow? That's right! The average cow is pregnant for 283 days, but the average Jersey cow is pregnant for 278 days.
"The normal gestation period of the dairy cow is 283 days. Based on studies made by the Ohio Experiment Station, however, it is evident that there is variation among breeds. The following figures show the gestation period by breed, as found in this experiment: Ayshire, 278 days; Brown Swiss, 288 days; Guernsey, 283 days; Holstein, 279 days; and Jersey, 278 days. The Ohio station also reported (1) that the gestation period of first-calf heifers is about 2 days less than that of older cows of the respective breeds, and (2) that the gestation period where bull calves are born is about 1 day longer than where females are born." ~M.E. Ensminger, Dairy Cattle Science
Since there are five heifers and cows calving on Birdsong Farm in the next five months, I figured this was a good time to share my gestation calendar, which I've custom designed for Jerseys.
The first column, Breeding Date, is the date that your heifer or cow is bred. The second column, Cow Due Date, is the date that your cow is due, while the third column, Heifer Due Date, is the date that your heifer is due. The fourth column, Dry Off Date, is the date for your cow's final milking if you are giving her a 60-day dry period.
For example, I bred Birdsong Princess Diana, a heifer, on June 20th, so she will be due on March 23rd. I bred Birdsong Autumn Aster, a cow, on September 22nd, so she will be due on June 27th and I will want to dry her off by April 27th to give her a 60-day dry period. Click on the images below to take a closer look.
I trust that this gestation calendar will make it easier for you to calculate the due dates for your Jersey heifers and cows, keeping in mind that since cows and heifers do not read very few will actually calve on their due date! (A range of 7 days before to 7-14 days after the due date is typical.)
Leave a comment below and share where in the world you farm and what breeds of cattle you raise.
I love to share stories and tips from living on my farm in Enderby where I raise Jersey cows and Nubian goats and make cheese. I work part time at the Enderby Museum, and enjoy reffing minor hockey, teaching cheese making workshops, and reading. Click here to read my bio.