Why go mini? How it happened to us...
How it started getting smaller around here 1998... The owners children grew up and convinced them to switch away from "big cows" and find something more manageable. No one wants to get hurt working cattle and the cattle had just gotten larger year after year. It was almost to the point that the cows were taller than the fences and they hardly fit in the working pens, chute or trailer.
Enter the idea of smaller cattle.
After doing some surfing on the web a solution came to light, smaller cattle! Why not just keep raising the same sized cattle our grandparents had back in the 1940-1950's?
Several breeds were identified:
1. Zebu, a small Brahman looking breed that might work. Problems, Zebu are tiny and I mean miniature horse small. They have horns and they won't yield much meat. Our accountant also advised us that Zebu were a hobby and not a true ranching activity for tax purposes. Three strikes and you're out...well, the horns and the accountant pretty much made our decision.
2. Lowlines (now rebranded as Aberdeen Angus), a small frame Angus based breed. Back in 1998 we couldn't find hardly any stock. They were polled (huge plus) and black (at the time black cattle weren't the trend.) But when you go out to buy cattle and there aren't any around sometimes you take the hint and keep looking.
3. Miniature Hereford, a Hereford that will stay small (below 48" bulls and 45" cows), check. The accountant said they were a real ranching activity, check. They could be polled (naturally without horns), check. They were a beef producing breed, check. They were docile, HUGE check. So, we set out to acquire two females.
The rest would be history until another ranch in Ardmore, OK was added into the mix along with the most coveted critters around...grandchildren. Well, I mean how can you raise miniature Herefords and not have your grandchildren showing your own bloodlines you'd had for 20+ years? So we then realized what we hadn't all those years of having cattle in the back yard, minis were finally becoming a hit on the show circuits. Our little cattle were getting real accolades for being small, docile and beefy.
The best part is that this added attention has really helped the cattle in the terms of quality. If you've been watching this breed for even a few short years you will admit the quality of cattle has jumped significantly.
The hunt for new bloodlines started in 2014. Having jumped back into the show ring gave us a unique view of what our cattle needed and where we should go to find the new bloodlines we wanted to weave into our herd. The journey has really opened our eyes and reignited our love of this breed. We strive to stay focused on quality (high fertility, cancer free, sound legs, perfect udders, ideal feet, proper markings) and docility above all in our herd.
Always have the cattle you find beautiful and you'll find a judge that agrees with you.
Why Miniature Herefords? That is a very good question.
Miniature Herefords have a dedicated following in their breeders and admirers. The reasons range from purely scientific to a simple “I just LIKE ’em!” For the record, we’ll provide a few reasons why you, too, should become involved with Mini Herefords:
- Smaller size means less feed needed. Face it. Feed today is expensive! Pasture is expensive! Miniature Herefords, weighing roughly half what the standard-size Herefords weigh, eat roughly half as well!
- Smaller size means less mess. Mini cattle do much less harm to the environment than their larger counterparts. From disturbing the ground far less for each foot-fall, to simply ranging more because they carry less weight – your pastures will love the Minis! Especially the spots around the water trough.
- Smaller size means shorter muscle length. While this theory is to-date unproven scientifically, there are many advocates of Miniature Hereford beef who believe the meat is more tender because of the shorter muscle length. Also, because the animal’s muscles need not be toned enough to carry 2,000 lbs around all day, they tend to be far more tender. Consider the average Mini Hereford weighs in at 700 or 1,000 lbs, and you might say the meat is twice as tender!
- Smaller size means more appropriate steak size. A lot of the steaks you see today would completely cover a normal dinner plate! Where would you squeeze in your baked potato? Consider the recommended serving size for meat, and a Mini Hereford steak is right on the money – with a little extra just ‘cuz.
- Smaller size means smaller amounts of meat off of one animal. Miniature Herefords are just right for an average family to raise, feeding exactly what they wish to feed, slaughter, and eat in the recommended shelf life of the meat.
- Smaller size means they’re better for kids. Calves are born ranging from 30 to 50 pounds. Compare that to standard-size cattle today! Children as young as 5 and 6 are capable of showing calves and steers!
- Smaller size means they’re much more docile. A standard-size cow knows full well she’s got you out muscled. While a Mini cow is still plenty strong, normally they just don’t try to get away with nearly as much – except when it comes to finding the treats in your bucket!