Whether you’re an experienced farmer or if you’re just looking to get into the industry yourself, you need to look into all of the options available if you wish to actually make a profit and live through that dreadful first year of being the owner of an open business.
There is a reason as to why over 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, with up to 50% of them going completely bankrupt within 5 years or so. If you don’t want to be a part of that demographic you’ll need to look into mini cows.
Mini cows? Really? How could a mini cow actually help save your business? That is exactly what we’re here to find out. So, without further ado, let’s start with a basic introduction to these mysterious undersized grass eaters.
What Are Mini Cows?
Miniature cows are exactly what they sound like, they’re just normal cows, but smaller. While that may seem quite unproductive at first, there are plenty of reasons as to why farmers would opt for them as opposed to going for normal sized cows.
So, what exactly are miniature cows? Essentially, they are normal cows that have been bred into a more compact size. This also means that you’ll be getting a lot less milk from them but at the same time you’ll be wasting a lot less money caring for them since they take up a lot less space and they eat and drink a lot less than a regular sized cow too.
There are plenty of breeds to choose from, as is common for any other normal pasture enjoyer, but for now let’s get into exactly why you would go for a miniature cow in the first place.
Miniature Cows: Advantages and Disadvantages
One of the main reasons as to why so many people have actually switched from owning regular sized cows to miniature cows is the fact that they are a lot cheaper on the long run. While an ordinary high quality milk cow can cost anywhere between $1,400 and $1,800, a miniature cow can easily be double that amount, with a high-quality miniature cow costing over $3,500 to purchase from an apt breeder.
But, while that initial number is a lot larger than that of an ordinary cow, remember that a smaller animal needs less food and water to live. This means that your miniature cow doesn’t need anywhere near as much hay to get by, and you’ll be taking a lot less trips to give them water as well.
On top of that, when the season comes and you need to find a proper pasture for them to munch on, you’ll be able to get on by with a lot smaller of a pasture, you can even put several cows on the same ordinary sized pasture and they’ll all have plenty to eat by the end of the day.
Another reason as to why farmers are now switching over to their smaller counterparts is because they take up a lot less space. Since a miniature cow is as small as ½ to 1/3rd of an ordinary cow you will need to attribute a lot less space for it.
This doesn’t mean that you can get away with the inhumane methods that some heartless farmers out there have been trying out for a while now mind you, you still need to give them enough space to walk around in, but that space is a lot tinier than what an ordinary cow would require of you and that’s a fact.
Miniature cows are also incredible for people that want to have milk for themselves and their families. If you’re one of those people that just wants to live a bit more eco friendly by drinking milk straight from the source then there’s no better options than miniature cows.
They take up a lot less space, especially when you compare them to some of the biggest cows out there, they leave behind a lot less waste, they are generally easier to take care of and on top of all of that, miniature cattle breeds give you about 1 to 1.5 gallons per milking which is more than enough for a whole family to enjoy.
An ordinary cow would give you anywhere between 6 to 10 gallons of milk per day, but that’s way too much for any one family to consume. Sure, you can love milk all you want but you are not going to drink all of that every day for the rest of your life. So, unless you’re looking to start a business, a miniature cow is definitely a better choice for you.
They also make for great pets. There is one thing that we all collectively love, and that is small versions of animals. This is why miniature cows are so loveable and if you have children over then we can assure you that they will fall in love with your miniature cows in no time. Miniature cows are essentially just slightly larger dogs, and they are 100% risk-free around children.
While ordinary cows are massive and they weigh a lot, a miniature cow weighs a third of that, to the point where they can even sit on your couch without you being afraid of them literally breaking through your floors.
On top of all of that, we should also mention that miniature cows’ meat is a lot more expensive to buy. This is because many restaurants have begun advertising the fact that they use miniature cow meat, and in doing so they attracted a lot of attention which added to that price tag. While the demand is still growing, more and more upscale restaurants have started requesting lean and luscious meat from grass-fed mini cows.
This means that if you do decide to butcher your mini cow you will find yourself either happy with the meat for several months, as you can easily continuously feed a whole family for almost half a year using the meat, or you can sell it to these gourmet markets which can fetch you a pretty penny in no time.
Disadvantage wise, it’s all of the things that we mentioned above. If you want more milk or meat then an ordinary size cow will fit you better. If you want more waste from them to use on the pasture then go for the ordinary cows instead. If you don’t have the initial money to buy the miniature cows then an ordinary cow will always suffice.
But what we haven’t mentioned is that miniature cows also require specialized equipment for them to live. For example, they are too short for most feeders so you’ll need to drop them lower to reach their mouths. Also, you’ll need to look into smaller barns because an ordinary construction will be too large for a miniature cow.
These are all extra expenses that will take a chunk of your budget so definitely look into whether you can afford to get your miniature farm going in the first place.
Mini Cow Breeds
According to the International Miniature Cattle Breeder’s Society and Registry, there are a total of 26 mini cow breeds out there. As is common with every other animal breed out there however, only a handful are recognized by the public as the “best” breeds to get.
Whether they are the best for their cuteness factor, for how useful they can be or for how expensive their product (milk/meat) is, this is all left up to debate. What we should focus on right now is these following 5 breeds which will really get things going for you if you’re looking to start a mini farm of your own:
The main reason as to why farmers are opting for the Dexters breed of mini cows is because they are actually tri-purpose cattle, meaning they are great for beef, milk and draft altogether. The breed is extremely popular for its great foraging ability, and while it does consume a lot of hay and grass every day, it does have an exceptional meat-to-bone ratio.
If you want to get a miniature cow for its meat, you will find yourself ready for the butchering in around 18 to 24 months, as about that time the mini cow will dress out at 50 to 60 percent live weight.
Their meat is extremely expensive on the market because it is considered to be very fine-textured, tender and delicious. The Dexters offer around 1 ½ to 3 gallons of around four percent butterfat milk every day, which is considered to rate up to one quart of cream per gallon. If that sounds good for you then definitely go for this mini cow breed.
The main reason as to why so many farmers have decided to settle on Mini Herefolds is because they mature around 20 percent faster than any other mini breed out there.
They are very gentle, perfect to be kept as pets, and on top of that they can adapt to all climates and are extremely efficient foragers. While their meat is not as expensive as their Dexters counterpart, they will still fetch out a pretty good penny on the market.
If you have experience with typical Angus cattle then you will definitely find yourself having an easier time with the Lowlines since they are essentially just purebred Angus bred 30 to 60 percent smaller.
There isn’t a lot to say about the Lowlines other than the fact that they are very loveable, very gentle and they are often times considered for pets if you’re looking for something of this sort on the market.
There are plenty of reasons as to why you would go for a Jerseys as opposed to the other options out there. For example, they make some of the best high-butterfat milk out there. On top of that, they are extremely loveable and cute, and they are great with children.
They also are very clean; their fur doesn’t get everywhere and with a little care they will easily fit into any household without making too much of a mess.
The Zebus is a mini cow breed that heavily resembles the brawny Brahman cow breed. The main reason as to why people would go for the Zebus breed is because they are by far the most resilient mini cow breed out there.
They are heat- disease- and insect-resistant, and on top of that they are very intelligent and caring, and their meat and milk fetch a very good price on the market.
Caring for Miniature Cattle
While we did mention that mini cows can be a lot more expensive because you need specialized equipment to match their needs, this doesn’t really mean that you’ll constantly need to loan money to own one or two.
In essence, you’ll only need the following three inexpensive products to make sure they are at their peak:
- A simple brush meant to clean and untangle their coats
- A cow halter hat you can use to lead your cows wherever you want them to go
- A show stick which you can use to train and discipline your mini cows
If you have these three going for you already then all that you’ll need is all the same equipment that you needed for ordinary sized cows and you’ll bee settled.
Mini Cows as Pets
As mentioned previously, many people nowadays have considered owning mini cows as pets simply because of how adorable they are. But, other than that obvious reason, here is a list of advantages that owning a mini cow as a pet can hold:
- Owning a Mini Cow is way more interesting than owning a cat or a dog.
- Anything smaller than its usual counterpart will be popular with children.
- They are incredibly loving and intelligent creatures that can be trained easily.
- They are risk-free around children or other pets.
- They are very clean, a lot cleaner than most other pets.
- They leave behind a lot less fur and can be trained to relieve themselves in special places.
- They can provide supplemental income, as milk and meat can fetch you a pretty price.
- They do less damage to pastures and are a lot safer around the house because they are smaller.
- They require less food and water.
- They make for great advertisers for your farm as they attract a lot of attention.
At the end of the day, owning a mini cow as a pet is definitely an acquired taste as not everyone wishes to make that commitment. While they are incredibly adorable and they are a lot less destructive than an ordinary sized cow, you should always take into consideration the fact that they still weigh several hundred pounds each which is why you might not want to buy them if you have a very small house, let alone an apartment for that matter. They are small, but they are not that small so don’t even think about getting one as a pet if you don’t have the necessary space for it.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a great mascot for your new business there’s no better choice out there than a miniature cow. As mentioned previously, they tend to attract a lot of attention both from children and adults alike, so if you’re looking to get things going in a more unconventional way then honestly, a mini cow is definitely what you need in your life.
If you’re looking to get one for yourself, you’ll also need to look quite far as not many breeders out there specialize in mini cow breeds. This is because, as mentioned previously, it is an acquired taste, so if you want to get your hands on a cuddly mini cow then you might need to look quite a lot farther and beyond what you would usually have to for an ordinary sized cow.
Other than that however, you should be pretty settled on raising your own mini cow at your own mini farm. There really isn’t that much of a difference between raising a standard sized cow and raising a mini cow other than what we’ve been listing off so far.
As long as you know what you’re getting yourself into, whether that is the increased standard price tag of a mini cow, the specialized tools and machinery that you’ll need to keep them around and the fact that you’ll eventually need to consider getting a livestock guardian animal such as a dog to make sure that your mini cows are always safe wherever they wander off to on the pasture.
All in all, you should know everything there is to growing a miniature cow. We hope that if you so choose to purchase and give a home to one of these cute miniature beings that you take good care of them and really treat them with the degree of respect that they deserve. Good luck with your new investment/pet and we hope that your newfound passion for miniature creatures will only grow from here on out.