Why Miniature Cattle???

I'm sure you can find reasons for this everywhere.... but here's a few of mine.

  1. My main reason for getting started was for an ag exemption on my land. The cattle paid for themselves in one year of tax savings. 

  2. They keep my pasture looking nice (beyond the pasture jewelry aspect :) My cows eat EVERYTHING. Grass, weeds, cactus, small trees, the screens on my windows... if they can fit it in their mouth they chew on it, for a least a bit.

  3. When you talk about mini vs. full-size cattle, there are quite a few benefits. They eat less, are easy on the fences, and easier to handle. I absolutely love the temperaments, they are almost dog-like. My cattle come running when I pull into the driveway and talk to me whenever I'm outside. 

The Breeds at Black Dog Ranch

The cattle I raise are my own personal mini-moo mix. I did a bit of research before I purchased anything and compiled a summary of what I discovered here. If I have something wrong, or if you have something to add, please let me know. I want this to be accurate. I found some information in Wikipedia, Miniature-cattle (always gotta double check that info) but, I think the best resources for me were from the popular press.  I really got a lot from Rural Living Today, Guide to Miniature Cattle Breeds and a blog, Ten Small Breeds for Your Small Farm. The breed organizations are also a good place to look, and International Miniature Cattle Breeder's Society and Registry is a fantastic resource to get general information.

Dexter

I have to start with this one because I think of the Dexter as being the original miniature cattle. That being said, there is no such thing as a miniature Dexter (got in trouble for that one.) They are a small, good tempered, dual purpose breed. They can be horned or polled, and come in black, red, or dun. I've seen some people with White Dexters recently. It's a separate registry and there definitely seems to be a bit of controversy depending on who is talking. The breed originated in Ireland and still have the hearty character of their mountain descendants. I haven't ventured into milking (yet) but these ladies are supposed to produce 1-2.5 gallons of milk daily, therefore, they have enough to share! They do have great dispositions and are easy to handle. The draw back or perhaps the best part of the Dexter... depending on who you talk to... is that they are known for carrying chondro, chondrodysplasia. This is a gene responsible for dwarfism, (not the only one, just the most talked about.) When one copy is present you get the short legged Dexter, no copies give you long legged animals, and two copies of the gene are lethal to the fetus. The American Dexter Cattle Association goes into quite a bit more detail. You can also request a test kit from UC Davis, pull out a few hairs from the tail and send it all in to test for genetic markers and coat color.

Highland

These are fuzzy cattle that make you go awwww. Highland Cattle originated in the highlands of Scotland. They were a small, agile breed, with long curling horns, that did well on the scrub in the area. They are full-size cattle unless stated otherwise. The miniatures (like most) are a return to the heritage size of Highland Cattle. They are primarily a beef breed and are also known for easy calving, good temperament their long, gorgeous coat. 

Belted Galloway

Oreo cows!! These are my some of my favorite.  Belted Galloway cattle originate in the southern hill country of Scotland. They are known for their efficiency on rough forage (they eat everything), low birth weight, and high-quality beef. Belties are naturally polled and have a double coat which allows them to have less visceral fat to stay warm. This makes for a lower fat beef product and higher hanging weight. They shed that heavy coat in the winter and do better in warmer climates than other cold derived breeds. There is no miniature designation in the Belted Galloway Society, but there are breeders that specialize in the smaller framed Belted Galloways. There is also an American Beltie, a registry for miniature belted cattle, recognized by the IMBC.

Mini Panda

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Low-line Angus

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Miniature Hereford

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British White

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Black Dog Ranch, miniature cattle company  |  Weatherford, Texas  |   blackdogminicattle@gmail.com   |   Trina McCollom