Jersey cattle, breed of dairy cattle native to the island of Jersey in the English Channel. Jerseys, smallest of the dairy breeds, are usually a shade of fawn or cream, although darker shades are common. The lighter colors are attributed to Norman ancestors, while the darker cattle are thought to have descended from breeds native to Brittany. Jerseys are adaptable to many environments and are now found throughout the world. They were first brought to the United States c.1850, and soon became one of the most popular breeds. The high butterfat content of their milk—useful in the production of cheese—has led to an increase of the number of Jersey cattle in recent years, despite an overall decline in the dairy cattle population.