SLU news

The Jersey breed of dairy cattle - a viable alternative to sustainable dairy in Uganda

Published: 19 February 2019

Uganda is currently experiencing a population explosion. Therefore, there is a need to reduce the size of farming land. There is urgent need for increase in milk production to contribute to the animal protein needs of the population. AgriFoSe2030 and Makerere University are undertaking activities aimed at promoting the Jersey breed of dairy cattle as a viable alternative to inclusive and sustainable dairying in Uganda.

Exotic animals have been used to improve the milk yield of indigenous cattle through cross breeding, with some successes. However, the crossbred animals have suffered from diseases and do not perform well under the harsh hot and humid environments and in Uganda. There is also need to maintain the crossbred animals at 50% exotic and 50% indigenous for best performance.

A need for animals that survive and produce well

However, in order for the cattle to produce well, the environment must be well adjusted to provide the comfort that the animals need. For the poor resource farmers in Uganda, not all components of the environment can be changed. There is a need to breed exotic animals which survive and still produce well under such environmental conditions. The jersey breed is a good example of such a breed that has answers to many of the challenges Uganda is faced with.

Improving livelihoods in smallholder dairy farming

AgriFose2030 and Makerere University launched the project “Promotion of Jersey breed and Artificial Insemination for improved Livelihoods in smallholder dairy farming households in Central Uganda”(JAILU) on the 5th of February at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal resources and Biosecurity at Makerere University.

The event brought together various experts in promoting artificial insemination in livestock, academia, farmers, researchers, students as well as representatives from various sectors. The aim of the meeting was to create a platform to reach out to the various partners, policy makers as well as farmers as a platform to promote the Jersey breed as appropriate for smallholder dairy farmers, says Maria G Nassuna-Musoke.

– We had a very successful launch of the project. Some of the targeted Ministry of Agriculture officials did not turn up. We had, however, representation from the Ministry of Agriculture and more importantly for JAILU, a representation from all the stakeholder groups we are targeting. The large scale dairy farmer leaders (LDF and DAFAN) were there and they committed to working with us. We are seeing them as a very critical stakeholder in helping us influence policy, indirectly through their work, says the project’s Principal Investigator Maria G Nassuna-Musoke.


The jersey breed has answers to  many of the challenges Uganda is faced with such as:

  • The Jersey (identified by black nose, white muzzle and round curios eyes) has a small body size that is good for sustainable agricultural intensification by farmers with small land size. The small body size makes it is easier to handle by women, children and the elderly
  • Jerseys are more efficient milk producers meaning they give higher profits or require lower inputs per liter of milk produced compared to other exotic dairy breeds. Jerseys will require much less feed, and will not be selective with the type of feed given, hence able to transform various types of feed into milk than any other breeds of cattle.
  • Jersey milk is of higher milk quality in terms of butter fat, protein, color and flavor, than other exotic breeds
  • Jerseys have high fertility, calve with ease with a low occurrence of obstructed labor

Jersey cow at LES, Entebbe. Photo by Maria G Nassuna-Musoke.

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Portrait photo of a woman, photo.Sofia Boqvist, Associate Professor

Programme Director of AgriFoSe2030
Dept. of Biomedical Sciences and Veterinary Public Health, SLU
Phone: +46 18-67 23 88, +46 72-240 34 94