Many times we are asked to explain the difference between all the various terms used to describe Mini Jerseys. People want to know just what is a Mini Jersey, and wonder if all the names mean the same thing. To complicate matters, many people use the terms mini Jersey, foundation pure mini Jersey, Guinea Jersey, etc. interchangeably.
The short answer is that there’s not a short answer. The term mini or miniature Jersey refers to any Jersey at least 15/16th pure that does not exceed 48” in height at maturity. This definition is very broad and is broken down into two height classifications:
• Mini – standing 42” and under at age 3; and
• Mid-size – standing over 42” to 48” at age 3
Beyond simply the size designation, however, there are many other factors that differentiate these animals. To understand the significance of the terms we need to consider just a little history.
All Jerseys originated in England and were imported into the United States once ocean travel became commonplace, in about the mid-1800’s. As soon as ships began plying the waters with their precious cargo changes began to occur in the breeding of Jersey cows. Of significance in the Jerseys of today, other breeds were introduced to create the polled gene since all original pure Jerseys were horned.
The Jerseys that were brought over from England during this time would have been what we would now classify as mid-sized averaging 44” to 46” in height. True mini cattle were very rare and today’s Mini Jerseys are the result of selective breeding to achieve the smaller size.
What we mean by foundation or heritage Jerseys are descendants of the animals brought over in the 1800’s that were carefully bred to maintain their smaller size, original genetics and hardy constitution which was a prime characteristic of the original animals. In some cases, they were crossed with other breeds to achieve size, polling and other desired characteristics, but through the many generations since, they have been kept pure and have become a breed unto itself.
Guinea Jerseys are the descendants of animals that were imported at various times from England, and also have maintained their original character. Most of these animals are smallish mid-size and exist in small pockets throughout the United States. These also are true heritage mini Jerseys and enjoy the full benefits of registry. In fact, we at Mini Miracles Farm consider them very desirable in expanding genetics within our herd. They are rare and hard to find and prices reflect this.
At Mini Miracles Farm we strive to breed the very best heritage Jersey cows in the world. We register each one through the Miniature Jersey Herd Book and American Miniature Jersey Association. To see a complete history of the Mini Jersey visit the history page of each of these registries – it’s a good read!