By Janet Redyke
In the past Sussex County was known as dairy farm country. In fact, cows literally outnumbered people in the county.
During the past week cows have taken center stage at the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show/New Jersey State Fair for various reasons. Like dogs, there are several different and distinct breeds. According to the American Dairy Association, there are six popular breeds in the northeastern states, inclusively New Jersey.
The ever familiar black and white Holstein is a large breed that originated in the Netherlands and was imported to the United States in the 1850s. Like our own fingerprints, no two Holsteins have the same spot patterns.
The large eyed, long eye-lashed brown Jersey cow originated on the British island of Jersey. The Jersey cow’s milk is high in butterfat.
The Brown Swiss is the oldest of all dairy breeds and came from Switzerland.
Guernsey cows are brown or fawn in color with white spots. Their milk is a golden color because of a high content of beta carotene and high amounts of protein and butterfat.
Originating in the county of Ayr is the reddish- brown mahogany spots on white body Ayrshire cow known for having large horns.
Lastly of the New Jersey dairy cows is the Red and White Holstein, a truly American cow bred here in the United States only since 1964.
According to the Livestock Conservancy, the Guernsey cow is under conservancy watch which means there are fewer that 2,500 of the breed registered in the US. Farmers at the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show believe this is due to the fact that Guernsey cows were not bred over the past years because of the high butterfat content of their milk relating to dietary and medical issues in humans. Also according to the farmers, the tides seemed to have changed where whole hormone-free, farm fresh milk is concerned. This milk is no longer a medical villain but could possibly lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Locally, Springhouse Dairy and Creamery operated by Peter and Marilyn Southway and their children participated in the state fair last week, displaying their livestock. Their local, fresh available items include high quality creamline whole and chocolate milks, fresh farmstead cheese, cheese curds and aged cheese.