Miniature Questions

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by frankcassiesmom, Nov 2, 2004.

  1. frankcassiesmom

    frankcassiesmom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    124
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Today is the first day I had even heard of miniature cows! My husband and I are so excited as we really don't have very much land (5 acres and lots of it is steep'ish'). I have read you can raise 2 on 1 acre. Is that right? Read some stuff about AI. Do they breed naturally or do they need AI? And ideally I would like someone to tell me what the best breed to get would be, but I have read loads of debate about it, but if you raise them yourself, tell me what you like about your breed. We are wanting them primarily for milk production (need butter and cheese to supplement our goats - well and hubby likes milk better than goat's milk) and secondly for raising for slaughter. Really I know little about cows at all, but am learning.

    Thanks
    Kim
     
  2. genebo

    genebo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sep 12, 2004
    Location:
    VA
    Kim,

    There are a number of small cattle being sold today. Some are the result of crossbreeding, where you breed a small bull, such as a Dexter, to a breed that has a characteristic you want, hoping for a small calf.

    Others, like the Dexter, are naturally small and always produce small offspring. They breed naturally.

    Miniatures are usually expected to be smaller than a Dexter, which has long been regarded as the smallest breed of cattle. Dexters are usually about 1/2 the size of larger breeds. Bulls weigh 800-1000 lb. and cows weigh around 600-650 lb. They are the cattle quoted as being able to survive on 1/2 acre per animal. They are pretty thrifty.

    Some breeds are not so thrifty and would require more acreage. Also, the acreage requirements mentioned are for good pasture. Some of the pastures out west couldn't support a cow on 5 acres. Even good pastures suffer during bad years and would require feed augmentation.

    Dairy cattle need more care than beef cattle. Miniature cows won't give you milk unless they are freshened by giving birth. The smaller the cow, the more care has to be used to choose a breeding bull for birthing ease. Breed a cow to the wrong bull and you could lose the cow.

    I raise Dexters and some Dexter crosses. All are bred by Dexter bulls. The births are usually natural, unattended and uneventful. The mother wanders away from the herd and gives birth. The calves are small and the mothers are quite capable.

    I had 12 cattle on 10 acres this year, 7 acres of grass and 3 of woods. They did very well all year until the end of summer, when the grass began to suffer. I sold two and the grass is recovering. So much for 1/2 acre per cow!

    I don't milk, but two of my cows have been milked before. They were good producers. Now I let the calves have it all.

    I have one steer for beef. He's a very nice looking beef steer. Some of my heifers would make good beef also, but they are more valuable as breeding stock.

    Some people use Dexters for draft oxen. They are sturdy and do well in this application. This is why they are called the only triple purpose breed. I contend there is a fourth purpose to keeping Dexters; they make excellent pets.

    Mine are all so gentle that I love to stand among them petting and scratching them. Some of them follow me everywhere I go in the pasture. I truly enjoy these little cattle.

    Genebo
    Paradise Farm


     

  3. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Lynnwood, Washington
    I love my Dexters as well. My cow has calved twice for me, both times without my being there. My bull is very gentle. As to 1/2 acre per head, well, they are probably talking about excellent, well established pasture, and unless you're in an area with year-round grass growth, you will be feeding hay at least part of the year. That said, they are quite thrifty, and easier on pasture than larger cattle. If you want to see pictures of my cow, my bull, and the new bull calf born in August, drop by my website, www.glimmercroft.com.
     
  4. kjerckie

    kjerckie Well-Known Member

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    Oct 17, 2004
    Location:
    NW Washington
    Kim,
    I have a Dexter bull. Docile, easy to be around and quick to learn. I'll be getting Dexter heifers next year. I am new to cattle and very happy with the breed.