So what is a Guernsey and where do they come from?
They are a breed of cattle that was used in dairy farming for a very long time. They originated on the English Channel Island of Guernsey and were first recorded as a separate breed around 1700. When people started immigrating from Guernsey to America, they brought their special cattle with them. At the height of their popularity in the 1950’s through the 1970’s, their milk was sold in the US and Canada as a premium product. But as the milking industry changed, their numbers have declined and today, there are just a small number still in existence. (The fourth reason why we wanted them was to help save the breed.)
What makes the Guernsey special?
Their body type is similar to that of a Holstein, but they are usually a light brown or fawn color and white. It is their milk that made them famous, having a golden color and it is high in beta-carotene, which is a good source of Vitamin A. Their milk also is high in protein and high in butterfat at about 5%. It is estimated that between 88 - 96% of all Guernseys produce A2/A2 milk, which is reported to be easier to digest than A1 milk. They are efficient milkers, producing an average of 16,200 pounds of milk per year. They have a wonderful temperament and they are also easy calvers. In addition, some Guernseys are naturally-polled, meaning they will not grow horns. These are so rare, we didn't know they existed until we met the man who sold them to us.
Bruce was raised on a dairy farm and always really liked the Guernsey Dairy cattle breed. In 2011, we decided to purchase two bred heifers so that we could have milk products and also to sell the cow's offspring as breeding stock to help keep the breed in existence.
Since that time, we have had several calves, all heifers that we have either sold as breeding stock or have kept for our own use.
The Guernsey would make a perfect milking cow for a small farm operation looking to be self-sustaining. You could easily keep 2-3 Guernsey cows (please don't keep just one - they are a herd animal and do not do well being alone.)
You could then milk the Guernsey cows beginning when their calves are about 2-4 months of age. What we have done was to take one milking a day for our use, and let the calf remain with the mother the rest of the day so that the calf gets its fair share, too. If you breed the Guernseys to have different calving times (say early fall for one and spring for another), each cow will get some much needed down time. Each cow would be milked for about 6 months of the year. You could then sell the offspring as breeding stock to help pay the cost of keeping your Guernseys fed.
Please contact us if you are interested in obtaining breeding stock. We want to make sure that these animals go to a good home and will be well cared for for their entire lives (up to 20 years). We would prefer that they go to someone who has prior experience with dairy cows.
If you would like more information about Guernsey cattle, you can Google them to find several interesting websites. There is also a national association called the American Guernsey Association that has lots of info on its website, www.usguernsey.com.