A bovine wheelchair would have made a fitting present for Jersey Eliza who celebrated her 21st year last Monday.

The old cow with dodgy back legs was treated to a bucket of her favourite food – dairy pellets – and plenty of pats from family and friends who gathered to celebrate her special day.

Her owners, Kyabram’s Robert and Sue Johnston, say turning 21 is a rare feat for a dairy cow.

“(Modern dairy cows) walk a lot and are not kept after their productive years,” Mr Johnston said.

Eliza – full name Pagini Eliza Dawn – was born at Mr Johnston’s previous property in Bamawm Extension on May 14, 1986.

She calved down about 10 times and peaked at 6471 litres/year, comprising 342 kg butter fat and 256 kg protein.

“I never had the heart to sell her,” Mr Johnston said.

“She won the region’s (Jersey) On Farm Challenge in 1995 as a nine-yearold.”

Mr Johnston sold the farm about 21/2 years ago and set up a nursery with his wife just outside Kyabram.

“We kept two cows. I couldn’t part with her and the other one wasn’t good enough to sell,” Mr Johnston said.

“She (Eliza) would’ve been out of the second cow I ever bought.

“I didn’t like parting with any of my cows and knew all of them by name and their pedigrees back five generations.”

Eliza now has almost a hectare of reasonably green pasture to herself, but Mr Johnston is surprised she’s still kicking given arthritis plagues her hind legs.

“Seven years ago, I thought that was it, and every winter we think it’s her last,” he said.

So the Johnstons put a blanket on Eliza to keep the chill out during the winter months.