Whether you have a full-fledged homestead, a ranch, a hobby farm, or some unused land, perhaps it's time to consider doing something different. Owning miniature cattle is a viable option that's becoming increasingly popular. But what exactly is a miniature cow? And what breeds are available?
Learn all about this animal and its many breeds. Understand the needs and requirements. See if owning one is right for you. Who knows? Maybe you'll fall in love with this cute creature.
Just as the name implies, miniature cattle are small cows. They're 36-48 inches tall at the hip, depending on their classification. Essentially, they're half or even one-third the size of average cattle and come in quite a few breeds dedicated to meat, milk, show, or pure companionship.
Initially, they cost more than their larger counterparts. Prices can hit higher than $3500, but they save you money in the long run when considering the costs of raising them: they don't eat nearly as much feed, and if you're looking for a quality meat cow, their steaks are considered gourmet.
Miniature cattle don't require more than an acre of land. They need minimal fencing and are much easier to take care of compared to full-size versions. Plus, they're less prone to disease and, overall, healthier and cleaner.
Loveable and gentle, they're great with children. Miniatures are also intelligent and easily trained. As a bonus, having a miniature cow is a great advertising tool that will draw a lot of positive attention.
Miniature Texas longhorns originated in 1990 during a downsize breeding program. Living up to ten years, they're one of the best breeds for companionship.
Mini longhorns are ideal for kids and make great show animals, especially since they don't demonstrate nervousness or aggression. Even though their full-size family members are known for quality meat, these little ones are all about friendship, love, and beauty.
Holsteins dominate the milk market. Their minis consistently hold the record for milk production. Genetically sound, they yield a wonderful return investment for production. Well worth their cost, these cows are hardy and adapt to most environmental conditions. A great teaching resource for children, they provide a nice foundation for cattle care, maintenance, and milking.
The Lowline Angus was created in the mid-1970s, and through selective breeding, the first became available to the public in the 1990s. Bred for efficiency, Lowlines yield an incredible amount of meat, requiring only a third of the nutrition their larger relatives need. Pound for pound, when you stack its output versus grazing needs, this Angus is the most profitable out of any family member.
An exception to the average mini cost is the miniature panda cow. These adorable critters can reach $30,000. This incredible price difference is because they're so rare — only a few dozen currently exist. Ownership will gain you immediate status and endless attention.
The panda came about when an Irish and Galloway bull was paired with a happy mountain cow. A tiny calf resulted, with the face of a panda and a white circle around the otherwise-black midsection. This unique, eye-catching breed is innocently cute, yet it delights in hogging the spotlight.
Though sufficient milk providers, miniature Scottish Highlands are known as much for their meat as their hardy, rugged nature. Calm and unafraid, their family has been around since the sixth century, so they're naturally geared to withstanding extreme bouts of cold. These minis also have lengthy lifespans.
Their long, thick fur acts as insulation, minimizing the need for extra fat. Underneath their coats, these miniatures are strong and lean. All of this combined makes them exquisite show animals.
Though not nearly as uncommon as the panda, the Jersey mini-cow is still fairly rare. It's one of the smallest miniatures available and comes from a long line of milk producers. Jerseys originated centuries ago in Europe, having been bred for outstanding milk production. Jersey mini-cows can provide up to four gallons of milk per day, which is exceptionally high for miniatures.
Jerseys are a lot more temperamental than other breeds when it comes to the environment. They don't care for cold weather; you should use calf coats and heat lamps when temperatures start to dip. Yet when it comes to their demeanor, their personalities aren't nearly as high-maintenance. Even the Jersey mini bulls are pretty docile, playful, and sweet.
Developed between the 1960s and 1980s, the miniature Hereford is a wonderful all-around cattle choice; they're ideal show animals, their size and demeanor are great for kids, and they're highly fertile. Breeding starts at a young age for both cow and bull minis. Mothers produce more than enough milk for calves and are incredibly nurturing.
Getting into miniature cattle isn't a decision you should take lightly. You need to have the financial ability to handle such an animal. Owning land is critical as well. You shouldn't get this or any type of livestock if you aren't certain you can provide the time, attention, care, and protection that are needed.
If you believe raising miniature cattle is right up your alley, do your research. Figure out your preferred type and find a reputable breeder. In the end, raising such an adorable animal will be a life-changing experience.
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