Jersey steer quality?
Down by me Jersey bull calves are available all the time for a song.
Any advice or comments regarding their quality when steered and then raised for meat? I know that holsteins can provide very good beef. I mean you can get them as low as $20 unweaned.
My 2 cents is that it's the best beef you could eat. Lean and tasty. Just remember that jerseys are small. We just did a 2 year old grass fed steer that was 355 lbs. hanging. Might take two or three to fill a large chest freezer.
I agree its the best you can eat, but I think $20 may be a little high. Jersey steers are dirt cheap finished out, no way you can dream of breaking even, unless you have a REALLY solid way to sell them direct to the user. Jersey bulls calves at the sale here dont bring $5
Jersey herd Assn. did a study about this they presented at their last annual conference. I have the file with the associated tables. Let me know on here and I will try to email it to you.
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF PUREBRED JERSEY STEER CALVES FINISHED AT TWO ENERGY
LEVELS FOR LEAN MEAT PRODUCTION.
Chad J. Mueller, Ph.D. and Garrett Tschida
Oregon State University
Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Union, OR
The economic value of live cattle destined for beef production is primarily based on quality and yield of
beef. Quality (based on marbling or intramuscular fat) is highly associated with tenderness, palatability
and consumer acceptance. Cattle that marble or deposit higher levels of intramuscular fat (i.e. Choice
or Prime grades) are perceived as higher quality by consumers, thus garner a premium by beef packers.
With that said, excessive levels of fat, especially seam and back fat, are perceived as unhealthy by
consumers and subsequently result in reduced demand and value. Yield grade, or cutability, is a
measure of the amount of closely trimmed, retail product produced by an animal. Higher cutability
animals (Yield grades 1’s and 2’s) usually result in price premiums due to the increased amount of retail
product, and thus overall value of the carcass. These higher cutability animals also have less overall
fat, and thus have less product waste (i.e. fat trim). Animals that are lower in cutability (Yield grade 4’s
and 5’s) have less overall muscling (subsequently less retail product) and more product waste in terms
of trimmable fat.
Cattle feeders not only track the carcass merit of the cattle they feed, but they combine that
information with the growth and health performance of those same cattle during the feeding period in
the feedlot. The value of the carcass represents the saleable value, whereas the growth performance
(i.e. daily gain, feed conversion, etc.) represents the input costs associated with producing the animal.
Similar to the production of any saleable product, overall profitability is related to both the final value
and the input costs associated with its production. Therefore, when feeding cattle for beef operators
want cattle that efficiency convert feed resources to tissue gain in condensed periods of time.
The ability of different breeds of cattle to meet the above criteria for both growth and carcass merit
can be extremely challenging. Many breeds exceed in one of these two general categories, but few are
able to excel at both (i.e. British-Continental crossbred beef cattle). Therefore, cattle feeders are
reluctant to feed new or different cattle until they have a better understanding of both the growth and
carcass performance of the cattle in question.
Can Purebred Jersey cattle ‘fit’ the above criteria?
The current research project evolved from the
question of whether or not purebred Jersey bull
calves can be efficient grown through a beef
feedlot to produce beef, thus increasing the
potential value of the young bull calves.
Currently avenues to market these bull calves
are limited. To add to the marketing problems,
beef cattle feeders tend to shy away from Jersey
cattle because of their size and limited
knowledge of growth performance. In fact
many beef cattle feeders will simply commingle
Jersey calves with Holstein calves (i.e. “dairy pen“), and feed the pen to meet the nutrient demands of
the Holsteins. This commingling results in over-conditioned Jersey cattle with poor yield grades and
greatly reduced growth performance. The positive side of feeding Jersey cattle for beef is their high
propensity to marble. Thus, if we have a better understanding of the growth characteristics of these
cattle we may be able to feed and market them in a manner that improves growth efficiency and still
captures the added value associated with the increased marbling.
Because there is limited knowledge regarding the growth and development of purebred Jersey cattle
for beef production, we decided to design a study to evaluate and help determine growth rates (i.e.
weight gain, protein accretion, fat accretion, frame size) of purebred Jersey steer calves throughout
their lifetime, and associate those growth characteristics with final carcass merit.
Synopsis of Current Jersey Beef Study.
Materials and Methods. Twenty head of purebred Jersey bull calves were donated by Martin Dairy
L.L.C (Tillamook, OR) in the summer of 2007. Martin Dairy retained the calves for approximately 10
weeks in which time they were castrated, fed milk replacer and weaned onto a dry ration prior to
being shipped to Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. Once the calves arrived at OSU they were
group housed and allowed to adapt to a new dry diet and pen environment.
During the growing phase calves were divided among four pens; two pens retained the light calves and
two pens retained the heavy calves. All calves were fed once a day (0800 hr) and performance was
monitored every 28 days. To evaluate growth we obtained body weight, hip height and blood samples
during each collection period. Intakes were determined on a pen basis. We evaluated the data during
the growing phase based on weight group (LIGHT vs HEAVY).
During the finishing phase calves were maintained in their original pens, but were adapted to an
individual feeding system (Calan Broadbent Feeding System) that allowed us to feed different finishing
diets to calves in the same pen. Within each pen we randomly allotted calves to either a high (F85) or
moderate concentrate (F70) finishing diet. The F85 diet
reflects a typical finishing diet that may be used in a
commercial feedlot, whereas the F70 diet was designed
to determine if these calves would develop more frame
size before depositing fat (i.e. improve yield grade).
Again, growth and performance was monitored every 28
days using body weights, hip height, blood samples and
ultrasonography. Ultrasonography was used to evaluate
changes in muscling (i.e. Longissimus dorsi), back fat and
intramuscular fat (or marbling). Steers were harvested
based on both live weight and ultrasound marbling
After harvest, carcass measurements were obtained to determine carcass merit and final carcass value.
As a side project we also collected a 9-10-11 rib section from each carcass, along with various fat
samples from different fat depots. The rib sections will be used to evaluate muscle tenderness and
consumer acceptance, while the fat samples will be evaluated for fatty acid profiles (this data is
currently being collected).
Summary of Results. During the growing phase we only evaluated performance based on initial weight
grouping (LIGHT vs HEAVY). Table 1 summarizes the overall growth performance of calves during the
growing period. Even though the HEAVY calves consumed more feed per day, feed conversions and
daily was comparable to the LIGHT calves. Therefore, Jersey calves that are heavier at time of feeding
seem to retain their size advantage through the growing period when fed similar to lighter calves.
Table 2 summarizes the overall growth performance of the calves during the finishing phase based on
finishing diet (F70 vs F85), whereas table 3 summarizes the same results based on initial calf size
(LIGHT vs HEAVY). The calves on the higher energy diet (F85) did grow faster, but were still fairly
inefficient at converting feed to pounds of gain. The main issue to point out is the initial size of the
calves had a bigger impact on overall growth than the level of energy the calves received during the
finishing phase. The HEAVY calves grew at the same rate as LIGHT calves, but the extra initial weight
resulted in heavier carcasses (table 5). That means the HEAVY calves would have a higher net return
versus LIGHT calves, with input costs remaining similar across groups.
From a carcass quality standpoint, regardless of finishing diet (table 4) and weight grouping (table 5),
these calves obtained an acceptable quality grade (low choice or higher for marbling) without
depositing excessive trimmable fat. The lower dressing percentages (<
60%) and lighter carcass weights (< 600 lb.) result in less net return
versus an average fed beef steer. Therefore, Jersey steers that are
heavier than average at time of feeding would return greater net value
than lighter calves fed similar diets.
From a cattle feeder standpoint, these calves can meet and exceed
quality standards for beef at lighter weights. This means that feeding
them to excessive body fat endpoints would result in higher input
costs without capturing proportionally higher carcass value. This data
also indicates that purebred Jersey steers can be grown on low energy
diets (i.e. grass-based operations) to potentially reduce input costs
while maintaining adequate rates of growth. Also, grain input could
be limited to only the finishing phase in order to increase the rate of
fat accumulation (especially marbling) to acceptably market the calves in a timely manner
They claim that Jersey beef tastes the best, Holstein second. This is compared to beef breeds!!! We get our HoJo steers to dress out pretty good. They are stockier and have a little more meat than bone structure when compared to the pure Holsteins steers.
In regards to a previous reply about grass fed: It will take longer than 2 years for grass fed beef to mature. We are feeding our steers corn silage from our Harvestor that is from the top of the silo. The feed is too poor of quality for consistent milk production but the steers will eat it when mixed with a little corn and distillers. This is corn silage that normally we would be throwing out. Add to it that we keep them on waste milk for 3 months as calves and you get bigger steers cheaper!
If your buying from an auction I would be wary of calves. For the same price you may be able to get better cared for calves straight from the farmer. If you want calves started off good, give him and extra few bucks to take good care of them till you pick them up. I'd certainly do it for you.
One guy I milked for kept his Jersey bulls, raised them for about a year, and then sold them by the whole or half. He always has a waiting list for people wanting Jersey beef. It's become quite popular in his area.
He firmly believed the meat was of a higher quality by not castrating them, and raising them as bulls. That's why he only raised them for about a year. By then, they were getting a bit ornery!
Many beef farmers that raise beef for finishing in NZ buy bull calves from the dairy farmers i.e. Holstein and Holstein x Herefords. They feed them waste milk to 100kg (220 lbs) and then wean them onto grass. They raise them entire for 2 years until they are finished. With good management the bulls are not a problem and finish heavier and earlier than steers would. You can raise them in large mobs on pasture and slowly make the mobs smaller as they get older (i.e. more mobs of smaller numbers). As they approach 2 years of age you would have them in mobs of 20. Once you separate a mob you can never mix those groups again, they must stay seperate.
Re Jersey meat - supposedly it tastes better but beef farmers struggle with Jerseys because they take longer to finish and they have yellow fat which is not appealing when on a store shelf. But if you are raising beef for yourself then that doesnt matter
I have never had yellow fat on jersey beef. I sold 2 cheap crossed bull calves to my uncle and he thought the same thing. He will be butchering this winter. Our meat always has a nice red color with white fat. Could grass fed give a yellow color?
Originally Posted by MBurgess
I do agree that for beef farmers it doesn't pay as well to raise dairy beefers but just from the lack of gain. If you do grass feed steers the beefers will usually have good fat to them while the dairy steers will look skinny. Most of our bull calves we sell at the auction I believe go for steers, not for veal.
Originally Posted by bmvf
It is possible. Grass has carotenoids in it. You can see the difference in colostrum milk colour between dry cows on a grass diet compared to a grain diet.
Jersey bottle calf
I just noticed you live in Michigan and I'm looking for a Jersey steer to keep my milk cow company and for a little beef. I can't believe how hard it is for me to find a Jersey farm. Can you point me in the right direction??
Originally Posted by jerseyfarmer
what part of Michigan are you in?