There are times in life when being small has its advantages. You need to eat less, you take up less space, and you use fewer resources – all important aspects to consider when keeping a sustainable future in mind. However, we aren’t talking about humans here, but rather mini cows – and your small plot of land will benefit greatly from these smaller, docile bovines.
Cuteness aside, mini cows are a wonderful addition to your family farm or homestead for several reasons. Self-sufficiency and self-reliance are first on the list, followed quickly by the saying that “size matters”. A mini cow will produce less milk and meat, on far less land, than the standard size of the same breed, and that is a good thing when your aim is to produce solely for your family. The quality of milk and meat will remain the same, or even increase, as you are able to provide higher quality pastures that are not overgrazed and over trodden.
Raising miniature cows is growing in popularity as people move back to the land, regaining control of food production and at the same time deciding that enough is enough! With quite a few breeds being on the diminutive side there are plenty of mini cows to choose from: Lowlines or miniature Angus, mini Hereford, mini Zebus, Galloway, Belfairs, Dexters and, of course, miniature Jerseys.
If you have limited pastureland, small acreage, are new to the joys of rearing livestock or simply don’t need vast amounts of milk and meat, then raising a mini cow or two may be the perfect next adventure for you.
Benefits of Raising Mini Cows
If you have been searching for a cow that provides a consistent supply of milk without requiring expensive and excessive amounts of feed, then a mini cow may be just what you are looking for.
The best cow is not always the one that provides you with the most of everything – it is the one that provides you with everything that you need the most. If what you want is gallons and gallons of milk a day then a traditional cow may suit you better, but if land is limited and you still want your gallon of nourishing milk every day, then consider owning a mini cow – their kind demeanor will delight you.A standard-size, full-grown cow may produce six to seven gallons of milk a day. Unless you are making cheese, that is a lot of milk for a small family! By comparison, mini Jerseys are family-friendly and produce 1.5-3 gallons a day – the perfect amount for enjoying raw milk, fresh cream, sour cream, butter, cheese and other fermented dairy products.
Mini cows have a special way of converting organic feed into choice cuts of meat, and there is a growing demand for lean, grass-fed steaks. One mini cow can feed a small family for months. The amount of meat from a miniature cow may just fill your freezer, without the need to share with another family. When it comes to slaughtering, you might even be able to take on the butcher’s role yourself.
Mini cows are naturally less intimidating than their full-size counterparts. When speaking of miniature Jerseys it is useful to know that they weigh just half as much as a standard Jersey – about 700 pounds. Small-breed cattle are typically one third to half the size of a standard milking cow, ranging in weight from 500 to 800 pounds. A full grown Holstein, by comparison averages 1,500 pounds! That is quite a difference in terms of weight, height and the quantity of feed needed to keep your cow healthy.
Mini cows are said to be 25% more efficient than regular size cattle, meaning that you will only need ⅓ of the standard amount of feed for each head. In a food crisis, or grain shortage, you will still be able to produce top-quality meat on very little land.
To rear standard size cows, you’ll need to provide approximately 1.8 acres per cow, depending on crop rotation and quality of land. The amount of land required by a mini cow is half an acre or a bit more. As they graze and feed at a slower rate, you will be able to rotate your mini cows with greater efficiency.
Related: This Super Root Preserves Meat Indefinitely!
Getting Started With Mini Cows
Finding, and buying, your first mini cow may be a challenge. It depends on your location and the location of the registered farm. There are several questions to ask as you go along – How much milk do I need? How many mini cows can my land provide food for? How will I transport my new mini cow? Are my fences strong enough to hold them in? Where can I find a miniature milk cow breeder? How tall will my mini cow be when it is fully grown?
Because of their lower weight mini cows will be easier to handle, for children and adults alike. Mini cows will also be easier on fences, too; in many cases an electric fence may be enough. Due to the fact that they eat less per day than their full-size counterparts (a milking cow consumes about 100 pounds of feed each day) you will be able to save money on feed costs, sharing some of the feed distribution with other farm animals: chickens, pigs, ducks and turkeys.
Overall, mini cows are less work than rearing a standard milking cow. Less time spent on animal rearing leaves you with more for gardening, foraging and preserving food for winter.
Just as miniature cows eat less than a full-size cow, you’ll need just ½ – 1 acre of pasture for each cow and you will have less manure to haul away.
Mini cows also drink far less water, an important thing to consider when choosing your milk source. Consider the size/height of the animal and provide appropriate troughs for your cattle.
Embrace the best of both worlds and discover the best, most adorable mini cow for you – the one that produces a sufficient amount of milk, day after day, and just enough meat to provide for your family and friends.
You may also like:
Top 9 Animals to Raise in a Post Apocalypse World
World’s Smallest Battery Powers House For 2 Days (Video)
How to Build an Automatic Watering Tube for Chickens
Pressure-Canning Hamburger Meat for Long Term Preservation
Miniature Cattle are fun.
Another question you need to ask yourself BEFORE Buying a Miniature MILK cow (or even a beef breed, if plan to raise them) is WHERE will you get a bull? Or do you have a good AI Tech near you? And keep in mind that Miniature DAIRY BULLS are often just as “mean” as full sized DAIRY bulls!! And they can hurt/kill you just as fast! On average, BEEF breed (Mini & full size) bulls don’t seem as prone to turn “mean” as the DAIRY breeds do. I have no idea WHY that is.
Anyway, no matter HOW GENTLE and “tame” your bull seems to be, you should NEVER, EVER “TRUST” him – ANY BULL – beef or Dairy! They can and DO, “turn” in the blink of an eye!
My way of dealing with bulls is to buy them YOUNG (Weanling to yearling age) and then “use” them for a year or two, and then either sell or eat them. In my experience (and many other peoples’ – just do a search and you will learn more) is that the Dairy breed bulls “usually” start “acting out” around 3 years of age. Some at 2 years and some a bit older, but 3 seems to be the “magic number”. But keep in mind that not all of them “act out” first and get “mean” later – SOME of them are super nice/gentle right up til the minute they decide to kill someone.
But, if you plan to raise any cattle, or even if you just want milk from one cow, you WILL need a bull at some point – or AI. You can’t use a “big” bull on a Miniature cow. You will need to find a Miniature Bull (that throws Miniature calves) to breed your cow.
You could avoid all the “bull problems” if you have a good AI Tech near you, BUT, you still have to buy semen, and if you aren’t “experienced”, it’s easy to miss heat cycles, or if you get her bred, you might not know that she slipped the calf until it’s too late to re-breed that year. That’s where having your own bull comes in handy – HE WILL know when she’s ready to breed.
Anyway, not trying to scare anyone, just letting you know there’s more to it than just buying a Mini Milk cow and then live happily ever after…
Good luck and enjoy your Miniature cattle.
You could not be more correct on a bull dairy or beef. Handling a bull from birth makes a great difference also. The author failed to mention the high cost of miniature cattle.vs. the regular size. OMG$$!!!!!
In my experience (and some other Dairy Cattle raisers) a “hand raised” or “Pet” bull is the most dangerous of all, because they have NO FEAR of people when the “hormones hit them”.
And yes, Mini Cattle can be expensive, especially if you get in to registered Mini’s.
We have never had a cow that produced 6 to 7 GALLONS of milk a day. Are you sure you didn’t mean QUARTS?
I didn’t write the article, but yes, some cows DO give that much (and MORE). Mainly Holsteins and others that are on the Big Dairy Farms. They bred to be “milk machines” and they are used up fast and then sent to slaughter. Even some “regular” Dairy cows, on the farm, will give that much, or close to it.
when I was young and milked Jerseys we got 6 GALLIONS easy.
OK…where does one buy these mini cows ??? I am in southern Missouri,65761
They are all around. I live in south/central Missouri and I raise Miniature Jerseys, Dexters and I have a Red Belted Galloway that I breed to one of my (Mini Jersey or Dexter) bulls each year. I generally have calves for sale every year.
My cows are bred for calves next spring/summer (I don’t like winter calves, if I can help it), so I should have calves for sale again next fall. (I’ve already sold all this year’s calves.)
Occasionally I will sell an adult cow. And of course, I often have a 2, 3 or 4 yr old bull for sale, because I’m “done” with him, and I won’t keep a bull longer than that. (Except Dexters. My Dexter bulls have always stayed gentle, so far, even after maturity.)
You can EMAIL ME at AppyHorsey@windstream.net if you are interested in a Miniature calf next fall (2019). Right now, The only ones I MIGHT have available for sale would MAYBE be the Red Belted Galloway cow, and a Dexter Cow. My cattle/calves range GREATLY in price. I’ve sold them from $350 up to $3500. It depends on the animal, as to what price I ask.
I also raise Miniature Horses and have some of them for sale, too…
I know several people that own the regular size cows and bulls.
IF BULLS ARE FOR MEAT and HUMAN CONSUMPTION
The young bulls are castrated ..and are called STEERS… It keeps them mild and meek so to speak,
It stops the Testosterone and also makes for better eating……..
I do not recall them selling Bulls that are “intact” for Human Consumption….IF I think about it when I see them I will ask……They might sell them Dog Food but I would have to ask them.
I’ve not ate a bull yet, myself, but my vet assures me that BULL MEAT is every bit as good as Steer meat. I have a young bull out here now, that I plan to put in the freezer as soon as I have room for him. He’s 2 yrs. old, going on 3 yrs in 2019. I plan to put him in the freezer in fall of 2019, if I can swing it. If not, then just “whenever”. He’s a DEXTER bull, so I don’t expect him to get “ornery” (but if he does he’ll go in a freezer whether I have “room”, or not!).
In my humble opinion, NOTHING tastes better than DEXTER beef!!!!
We own Dexter’s for years. They are about 60% smaller than a Black Angus. Great lean meat and milk. A dual purpose cow. Easy on feed, fence lines, and very tame. My grand daughter can ride our bull around the feed or he’ll lay down with you.
I think ‘why to’ is covered more than ‘how to’, which is what I was expecting, by the title – and wanting info about. :/
Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle, 3rd Edition. According to the book description, 340 pages. In addition there is the book on calving which may be something you need in addition to Raising.
I suspected that a how to book would run to several hundred pages. I get beefs (pun intended) about the length of my posts. I can imagine the complaints about a 340 page dissertation on cattle raising.
There is always the “Cattle Raising for Dummies” for $15.95 on Amazon Books. I think it doesn’t have quite as many pages, but I suspect that it is somewhat lacking in detail.
I found the article interesting because I didn’t even know that there were such animals as miniature cattle. I am no cattle grower, but I suspect that even castration doesn’t turn a steer into a house pet. You have a 1200 to 1800 pound animal, they can seriously hurt you without even meaning to do so. A steer accidentally steps on your foot. That’s 300 pounds of pressure on your foot. Unless you are wearing steel toed boots, guess what? You are going to be walking like Chester on Gunsmoke for a while.
This is an interesting topic and provides food for thought. When I get my 40 acres and my mule, I will certainly think about miniature cattle.
Thank you! I’ve looked into the minis, before – But only pricing, out of curiosity. I’ve raised a few bulls, for meat, and had a jersey cow who gave 4 gallons or so, per day. She stepped on my foot once. I was trying to nudge her away from my step mom’s flower bed, and she thought I was hugging her – and she hugged me back, bovine style. They can be very affectionate, and hug by leaning against you. I was 16, and as I nudged her, she leaned into me, shifting her ferry – and stepping on – and breaking my toe. It hurt like hell, but I couldn’t be mad. But, when my breath caught, and I tearfully begged her to get off my @#%&* foot, she slowly leaned off. Her tail, at milking time landed like a bat, against the back of our heads, too.
My point being, be very sure you really are ready to devote a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to your bovine endeavors, because for some people, it’s worth it – But even when they are being sweet and gentle, they can truly hurt you.
You mentioned you raised bulls for meat before. Did you have them in “cuts” (Steaks, roasts, etc.) or did you simply make hamburger out of them? And what age did you butcher them?
I plan to have my bull in “cuts”, because I want to see for myself how he tastes, how tender he is, etc.
I’m just curious what others have done and how they liked it.
They were, if memory serves, about 18months – 2yrs old. It was getting cold, and my folks had run into some serious health issues, so we did it, ourselves. There were 3, and 3 of us teenagers, so we each helped my dad do one, from kill to quartered. After that point, we just carried to the house, while my dad butchered. With such a big family, he cut everything he could into roasts, with a pair of steaks for him & my stepmom. Anything that couldn’t be cut as a roast was ground up.
Of course the minis can have accidents and step on you!? And I can remove the teeth from an old beloved toy size dog and trip on him and die. The point is, you have far less chances of injury when your bulls and stallions are not of the temperament to walk around all day thinking of ways to kill you!? I don’t know how dangerous Billy goats are, but my first foray into chickens, and I can tell you what a rooster wants to do!? I have one whose main function in life is to kill me, even when feeding his hen’s!? And the difficulty of handling intact male breeding stock can’t be overlooked either! You have to keep kids and strangers out of thier living spaces. No getting your girlfriend to baby sit if you need to go out of town. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. Of course at the end perhaps the lawyers will die off. Joke
In my younger days I managed an Arabian breeding farm with five stallions. None were outright mean, trying to kill you, but four of them were totally unpredictable and dangerous to ride, especially with mares walking around. We kept whips down the back of our jeans, but once I was mistaken for a fertile mare and the whip didn’t even phase him. One would follow me around like a puppy dog and I loved him greatly. But I never turned my back.
What about male pigs?
A bull makes very good hamburger! They are generally very lean, great flavor, and leave almost nothing in the pan after frying. We do very well money wise on our old bulls adding in the calves they father and then hamburger sales.
Shoot, wish I’d thought of Josey Wales for a handle…
Whooped’em again, eh Josey? 🙂
While reading this article I could not stop thinking of Clint Eastwood, Jack Palance, and John Wayne on a cattle drive with the Mini Cows. Or would that be more along the lines of a Monty Python show?