Have you ever wondered what sort of animal can be both cuddly and a working member of the farm? Miniature cows can be sources of milk and meat and as a bonus, have the ability to be your new family pet.
Miniature cows: While everyone knows about cows, not as many are aware of miniature cows. These are cows that either stem from a form of dwarfism or have been selectively bred for their smaller stature. Miniature cows have a lot of benefits, which is why they are rising in popularity. There are many different breeds in this category and the majority are cute and cuddly. They are also very intelligent and docile, so they make great pets, even with children. If you decide to raise a miniature cow, you don’t have to feed them as much and they need less space. Furthermore, miniature cows produce enough milk to feed a large family. While it can be hard to think about slaughtering your miniature cow, if you choose to go this route, you can make a tidy profit from their meat.
What are miniature cows?
In essence, a miniature cow is just a smaller version of a cow. However, it is not a baby cow, as this is called a calf.
There are different reasons why miniature cows are the size that they are. Some are affected by a form of dwarfism, similar to other animals and even people.
Then there are cows that are the product of selective breeding. This is when humans take animals with certain traits and continue to breed them together so that their offspring all share the original trait.
So, there are breeds of miniature cattle that started with a smaller lineage, and then over time, these characteristics were continually passed onto their offspring.
There is a large history of miniature cows. They exist in areas all over the world and the term is more of a description rather than an actual species.
Instead, there are multiple breeds of mini cows and they range in color, size, and hair texture. Some are breeds that have existed for quite some time while others are relatively new.
Advantages of Miniature Cows?
Cows are actually very intelligent animals, which we sometimes fail to realize. They are loyal and have personalities, and if you get to know them, you will understand why so many people want cows on their farms.
However, cows are large. Much larger than you would imagine.
Regular-sized cows need a lot of space. They need a large area to sleep and shelter from the elements. They also need a lot of food.
Taking into account the cold winter months where the grass is less available for grazing, cows need between 30 and 40 pounds of food per day. That is a giant expense.
Miniature cows are the antithesis of regular-sized cows. Because they are so much smaller, their needs are fewer.
While miniature cows still need a barn area, it can be smaller and you can fit more mini cows inside. Furthermore, fences can be smaller and not as strong because they simply don’t have the massive weight behind them.
When you have a smaller animal, you can feed them less. With miniature cows, their food requirements are cut at least in half, more so if they are a smaller variety.
You also need less pasture land as the cows won’t require so much grass to continually eat.
The production of methane gas is becoming more aware but many people are still uninformed about the impact it has on our environment. When methane is released into the air, it can actually trap heat in our atmosphere.
There are a lot of cows in the world. The latest estimate has the figure at over one billion of the animals.
While you may not want to imagine it, just think of all these cows releasing methane into the air. Even though miniature cows also release methane, it is a lot less than full-sized cows.
Have you ever dreamed about having a home that is self-sufficient? As supply chains continue to be hit, more and more people are turning to vegetable gardens and backyard chickens for their own source of food.
So, why not add a cow into the mix?
Miniature cows are able to produce milk. It is not a lot but it is enough for a family and even a neighbor or two.
It’s more convenient to have a small supply of milk because it means less work and wondering what to do with the extra. And, if you are especially hands-on, you can even try your hand at making butter and cheese.
Perfect for children
Exposing children to animals at an early age is extremely beneficial. They learn about nature, are more compassionate, and are better able to help with chores.
Miniature cows are pretty docile creatures, especially if you raise them from calves. Their small size means they are less intimidating and even if they get close to a small child, there is very little risk of that child becoming hurt.
Plus, miniature cows just look adorable. Who wouldn’t want to snuggle next to one?
A good meat source
Now, we’ve just gone over how cute and cuddly your miniature cow is, so the idea of butchering might not appeal to everyone. However, it is the way of life on a farm.
Despite their small size, there is a lot of meat on a miniature cow. It is enough to supply a family with their beef for a year.
Miniature Cow Sizes
Within the category of miniature cows, there are actually different sizes to be aware of. There is a big difference between a small miniature cow and a large one.
- Standard: 36 inches to 42 inches tall, measured to the hip
- Midsize: 42 inches to 48 inches tall, measured to the hip
- Micro: less than 36 inches tall, measured to the hip
Different Miniature Cow Breeds
Miniature Dexter Cow
Perfect for a variety of purposes, such as beef, milk, and meat, miniature Dexters are a popular choice. They are easy to care for and are great whether you want to keep the cow for your own needs or monetize its output.
In just under two years, an adult miniature Dexter is ready for slaughter. They need slightly less feed than other miniatures and there is a lot of meat on their bodies.
Furthermore, they are excellent milk producers. You can easily supply a large family with milk from just one cow, and even have leftovers to try your hand at cheese and butter.
Miniature Dexters have their origin in Ireland but were brought to England in the 1880s. Eventually, they made their way to the United States.
Although they were not very popular, they are becoming more sought after. In fact, their production capacity has made them be classified as a recovering breed, instead of a rare breed.
While the lifespan of miniature Dexter cows is average, at around 20 years, not many actually reach this age. As we mentioned before, in just two years they are ready for slaughter, so there is a larger turnover of this breed of cow.
Size, weight, and height
Overall, miniature Dexter cows are considered quite small. Female cows are about 600 pounds while male bulls rarely top 1,000 pounds. They are only about 42 inches in height but they can be quite long in their body.
One of the hardiest of miniature cow breeds, the miniature Zebus is perfect if you live in an area without the most ideal conditions. These cows are able to withstand hot temperatures and are even disease-resistant.
You can opt for a miniature Zebus as a pet or for profit. They are kind, sweet animals and will show a lot of affection, especially for younger children.
On the other hand, they produce good meat and milk, so there is a lot of profit to be had from them.
Miniature Zebus cows hail from India, so they are no stranger to hot temperatures. In 1991 they were formally acknowledged as an American breed and their ability to tolerate less than favorable conditions has led to their popularity.
The lifespan of a miniature Zebus cow is about 15 to 20 years. This is quite remarkable given the fact they are often kept in dryer areas.
Their long lifespan is attributed to the fact they are disease and insect-resistant. This drastically cuts down on their risk of infections that are spread from insects.
Size, weight, and height
Miniature Zebus cows are some of the smallest on our list. Female cows only weigh between 400 to 500 pounds while male bulls weigh between 500 to 600 pounds.
In appearance, these are not the fluffy cows you might be thinking of. Instead, their fur is a lot shorter and while pleasant, they are not as cuddly as you may want.
For height, miniature Zebus cows are only 42 inches tall.
Miniature Scottish Highland
If you are looking for the optimal cuddly breed of miniature cow, then you should definitely consider the miniature Highland cow. It is cute, cuddly, and a perfect delight.
This breed of cow is especially known for their docile demeanor, and are great if you have children interested in the farming process. They are also very hardy and their thick coat allows them to withstand colder climates.
As you can expect from their name, miniature Scottish Highland cows originate from Scotland. Therefore, if you live in a climate similar to the northern highlands, this is an excellent cow to consider.
Overall, you can expect your miniature Highland cow to live between 15 and 20 years. Their smaller size may affect their lifespan. However, they are a hardy breed and are not prone to any illnesses or diseases.
Size, weight, and height
Quite small in size, miniature Highland cows range between 27 and 42 inches. They usually have light brown hair and their long size makes them look like cuddly bears.
Because of their long coat, they are adept at living in colder climates. However, in the summer they will shed this hair so you don’t have to worry too much if your summers are warm.
One more note about their appearance is that miniature Highlands have longhorns. However, this isn’t too much of a concern. They do not scare easily, so they are not prone to attack.
This breed is one of the most popular in miniature cows. They are extremely cute and are quite docile.
If you are familiar with cow breeds, Miniature Herefords are simply smaller versions of their regular-sized counterparts. They have a long lineage and are an American staple.
This is a very easy cow to raise. They are quite adaptable and hardy.
To perfect miniature Herefords, selective breeding was used. The breeding program began in Texas in the 1970s.
The lifespan of a miniature Hereford is around 20 years. However, not many of these cows live this long as they are often sold for slaughter.
Furthermore, miniature Herefords mature faster than other small breeds and will reach their adult size about 20 percent quicker. This is welcome news is you plan to breed these cows for their meat.
Size, weight, and height
Miniature Hereford calves will weigh between 30 and 50 pounds. Once they reach adulthood, expect them to weigh 1,000 pounds. This is about 40 percent smaller than an adult full-sized Hereford.
As for height, expect adult miniature Herefords to measure about 42 inches. This makes them rather squat-looking, given their smaller height.
Health Issues of Miniature Cows
No, your miniature cow won’t turn into a bulldog but it may have the physical characteristics of one, at least around its face.
This gene is technically called chondrodysplasia and is a genetic anomaly passed on by both parents. It is a recessive gene, however, so both parents need to carry it.
The bulldog gene results in a physical malformity. Essentially, the cow’s head looks caved in.
While you may be able to tell the condition of a calf, you can also get a simple blood test done, which is recommended before the purchase of a miniature cow.
While all breeds may have this gene, it is more common in miniature Dexters.
While not specific to miniature cows, grass tetany is something any cow owner should be aware of. Thankfully, if you notice the signs of grass tetany, you can remedy it. Unfortunately, if not caught in time, it can be quite fatal.
Grass tetany happens when there is too little magnesium in a cow. Signs include staggering, twitching, and convulsing.
It is more common in lactating cows, so if you have a cow currently lactating, you should monitor for any signs of this affection.
Another general ailment that all cows are prone to be bloat. Cows eat a lot of grass and if they eat too much of a particular kind, this can lead to bloat.
Essentially, as cows digest their food, gas builds up and if it is not released fast enough, it can stay in them, leading to bloat.
A diet high in legumes such as alfalfa is one of the leading causes of bloat. You should therefore monitor what food your cow has access to.
Symptoms of bloat include a distended stomach and a general change in behavior. The good news is that if a cow is switched to different food, the bloat normally sorts itself out.
Where to Buy Miniature Cows?
As more people turn to homesteads and hobby farms, the ability to find quality farm animals has increased. There are now more miniature cow breeders than ever.
The best way to purchase a miniature cow is to look online for a nearby breeder. It is easier if you are not too particular about the breed as this can greatly limit your search.
You can also reach out to fellow homesteaders and connect with the hobby farm community.
Miniature Cow Price?
While you may think that a miniature cow would cost less than a full-sized cow, you would be wrong. It is all about supply and demand and there are way fewer miniature cows, so the price is quite a bit higher.
You can expect to pay between $1,800 and $3,500 for a miniature cow. The breed, size, and markings will all determine the cost.
In contrast, a regular-sized cow will cost on average $1,800.
The good news is that you can still make a profit from your miniature cow. While you can’t sell their meat or milk for any extra money, you will be able to sell it at a profit.
Furthermore, your cost for food will be almost half that for a regular-sized cow, so in the end, you may walk away about evenly matched in profit.
When looking to add a new animal to your homestead, miniature cows are a great idea. They are cute and cuddly, plus need less space and less food. With these cows, you can still get a steady supply of milk, and if choose to, a hefty supply of meat.