I'll start off with a little bit about me. I was born and raised in Texas, I have a degree from Texas A&M in Animal Science, (which I was able to dust off for this little adventure!) and I'm a professional dog trainer, (yes Trina the Trainer.) I ride horses and grew up competing in three-day eventing. I was boarding two horses since graduating from college and finally started getting itchy to have them at home. When the time was finally right, I purchased a small amount of acreage in Weatherford, Texas, and built the barndominium of my dreams. (That's right, I said barndominium, that's even what my bank called it.) Weatherford is a not so small town just west of DFW. After a conversation with the accountant, I was informed that horses are a hobby, not a tax exemption. There are two options - food or fiber. The land was currently ag exempt and I really wanted to keep that way. (Who wouldn't?) What to do next?? I looked into goats first.... they're cute, little, couldn't eat too much - right? The more research I did, the little cute things started looking like more effort than I really wanted to put into it. One person told me, "They eat everything, not just growing things. They'll stand on your truck and eat the paint!" Another said, "If air and water can get through your fence, so will your goats." Then, the well-meaning neighbor, (who does raise goats,) informed me that I'd need a guardian dog to stay with them. If I didn't have an LGD, the goats would get eaten by coyotes. Well, that didn't sound like something I wanted to do. After all, the dogs stay in the house at night. Knowing me, that would mean the goats would probably end up in the house as well. So, onto plan B...
The Mini Moo Adventure
Then, the discovery of miniature cattle. Mini Moos were always a running joke in college and I don't think I believed they were a real thing. I'd seen the zebu, but they didn't really have the "look" I think of when I think of cattle. Back to the research!! Come to find out you can get almost anything in miniature. (I don't know why that surprised me. I am a dog trainer. I KNOW people want mini/toy/teacup everything!!) In fact, most mini cattle aren't really something new, so much as a return to the original breed standards of the past. Now it's decision time. Well... I'm bad at making choices, so... I got one of everything. I can admit, it's not the way most people do things. However, I am super happy with my little, mixed herd. I appreciate the qualities people like in various breeds. I decided I want to appreciate them all!! I think I was a little surprised at just how much I enjoy the little cattle. They are fun and incredibly personable. It has been incredibly rewarding to build trust and relationships with the individuals in my herd. I laughed last time I was at the vet. I walked in the door, cue receptionist, "You're the lady whose cows have names." (Yes, they do all have names, but that's not the point!) I would have had a harder time of it if not for the breeder that helped me find my first cows. She has been a font of information. (Huge thanks to Amanda of Oliver Miniature Acres!!!) From my personal experiences in this little adventure, there are things I find incredibly important. I will strive to produce these in my herd and my dealings with buyers.
Conformation - Despite their small size, cattle must function as cattle. They should breed and calve easily. They should stay sound in the pasture. My foundation animals were selected first and foremost for correct conformation and balance.
Temperament - The cattle are handled on a daily basis. They are gentle. I can walk up to any of them on any given day, call them in, or put on a halter. I brush, worm, and fly spray as needed. I strive for my cattle to be as friendly and safe to be around as possible.
Color - This is the fun one for me. I love color genetics. I really fell in love with the Panda cattle and have a registered Panda bull. But I love all the colorful, fun, fluffy cattle.
Size - I am striving to have everything mature under 42". I discovered that there is no standardized way to measure minis and people measure at a few different points. For reference, all of my measurements are taken to the top of the back over the hip.
Health - My cattle receive the best care I can offer. They are vaccinated and wormed according to my veterinarian's recommendation for this area. The cattle are provided a quality mineral supplement, hay when the pasture is lean and fed a small amount of grain daily. Calves are fully vaccinated and weaned a minimum of two weeks before leaving my property. Also, I offer continued support after purchase.
Well, I'm five years in and ran out of room. I really enjoy my cows and didn't want to downsize. I was blessed to find just over 100 acres in Mineral Wells. It's a little further west but not too far out of town. I am starting over (groan) with a chance to get everything set up just a little better than before. The best part, I never have to buy hay again (happy dance). I appreciate that I started small so I can relate to small acreage farms. I have settled to mostly belties and pandas, and gotten the height down to where I wanted. I look forward to growing my little herd a little bit larger in the future.
What they need
Just a page with a few tips and FAQ on getting started.
Just random shots of the ranch, the cattle, and the other critters that make Black Dog home.