WHY WOULD I WANT MINIATURE CATTLE?

Advantages of miniature cow breeds

  • They can produce just enough milk for your needs. In peak production, a normal-sized cow can offer 6 to 10 gallons of milk per day. That may give you more problems for storage, and you may not really know what you should do with all that milk. On the other hand, a miniature cow can give you about 1 to 1.5 gallons per milking. That should be enough to give you a few glasses of milk to drink, some butter and cheese per week, and even a little milk leftover for some neighbors.

  • You also need just half to one acre of pasture for each animal.

  • They’re about 25 – 30% more feed-efficient. Typically, you’ll only need a third of the standard amount of feed for each one. You’ll haul less hay during the fall. During the deep winter freeze, you’ll have to carry fewer buckets of water for your thirsty cows.

  • Since they eat less, they’ll produce less waste for you to have to cart away.

  • Your best option is to divide the pasture to smaller sections, and then you can rotate the grazing pattern. You can even just tie your small-breed cattle to a tire to let the animal graze in a specific area. Then you can just put the tire in another area afterwards. These small animals don’t really need heavy duty fencing, as in many cases you can just use a single hot wire.

  • If you butcher an entire miniature cow, you get just the right amount of meat for a small family. A single tiny cow can feed a family of 4 people for months.

HOW TALL ARE MINIATURE CATTLE?

HOW TO MEASURE MINIATURES

What is a "Micro Miniature"?

This is actually not the most accurate way to measure a cow, but it is a good way to give an easy visual on how small some of them really are.  This is our smallest cow.  She is about 33" at the point of the hip measured with a proper measuring stick with a built in level.

An explanation of the "Chondro gene"?

This chondro gene is different from a typical "dwarf gene" which often comes with health issues unless you breed carrier to carrier.  I bred National quality miniature horses for many years and we would always cull anything that carried "dwarf characteristics" as it wasn't the look we wanted, and also came with numerous health problems in many cases. The Chondro gene, short for CHONDRODYSPLASIA, is what gives some Dexter cattle their short legged stature.  It is not a "bad" thing to be avoided. Kind of like the LWO in horses for those looking for loud frame overo colors, there is no risk if the gene is managed properly. In fact, it is quite useful to get the end result we are often looking for, smaller cattle.  The risk only comes from breeding two chondro carriers together.  This pairing carries a 25% risk of producing what is referred to as a bulldog calf (named for it's big headed appearance).  These calves are usually aborted.  So how do I know if I have a Chondro carrier?  It is an easy test that involves sending hair samples to the UC Davis lab.  Why would I want this chondro gene anyway?  If used responsibly, these chondro career can reduce adult size by several inches, which is very desirable to a lot of miniature cattle breeders.  Most of my cattle are miniature breeds that have been small for generations (Aberdeen, Hereford, Dexter), but if you are trying to introduce characteristics of slightly larger cattle such as the White Park coloring, or Highland hair in a smaller package, this chondro gene can be very useful.  

For more information visit the American Dexter Cattle Association.

Below is an example of the chondro gene in a Highland x Dexter cross.  Notice the shorter legged appearance.  This cow is only about 37" tall.  On the right of the page is a "bull dog" calf.  These are usually aborted prior to a viable age-not something anyone wants to find in the pasture.

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