Barnutopia has a couple of acres perfect for miniature Hereford cattle. After considering several species (pygmy goats, alpacas, wallabies), we decided on miniature Hereford cows as the ideal balance of effort (we don’t need to build a special enclosure) and quirkiness (as befits Barnutopia). In the future, we hope to offer cow-grooming, cow-walking and bovine aisle escorts for weddings. We have not given up on wallabies, but they may have to wait for another year.
We welcomed Ben and Jerry, the mini cows of Barnutopia to the Barnutopia family at the beginning of December 2022.
The Lowdown on Miniature Hereford Cattle
Our piggies and donkeys are such a hit with guests that we decided to share the love with more pasture pets. As ever, we do our homework to ensure we can give our animals good homes.
- The first breeding program for miniature Herefords was started by the Largeant family in Texas, America in 1974. By 1991 the first miniature Herefords were for sale on the open market.
- In Britain, miniature Hereford cattle are still relatively new but gaining popularity.
- Although small in stature, miniature Herefords are free of the dwarf gene. They are purebred Herefords bred selectively to be mini versions of typical Hereford cows.
- They have distinctive white faces and reddish-brown coats.
- Miniature Hereford cattle should not be confused with Dexter, Zebu and Lowline Angus, other small-breed cattle variants.
- Miniature Hereford cattle are most popular in the US, but can be found also in Canada, Australia and the UK.
- According to the American Miniature Hereford Breeds Association (MHBA), cows should not exceed 45 inches (114 cm) at the hip. Standing 3 feet 6 inches (107 cm) on average, miniature Herefords are almost a third of the size of their full-size counterparts.
- On average, an adult bull (male) weighs around 1000 pounds (454 kilograms). Adult cows (female) weigh 700 pounds (318 kilograms) and calves weigh 40 pounds (18 kilograms) at birth.
- Calving (giving birth) is a lot easier for miniature Herefords than larger cows. This allows for a more natural experience and keeps vet bills down.
- A calf is a baby bovine, male or female.
- A heifer is a female bovine that has not given birth to a calf.
- A cow is a female bovine who has given birth to a calf.
- A bullock or steer is a castrated male bovine.
- A bull is an intact (uncastrated) male bovine capable of reproduction.
- Unless kept as breeding stock, male bull calves are usually dehorned for safety reasons and castrated to prevent breeding. The Barnutopia Bullocks have been dehorned and castrated.
- Calves are usually ready to wean between 5-7 months of age, so calves born in the spring are weaned in the autumn.
- Miniature Hereford cattle reach sexual maturity earlier than their larger cousins
- They are extremely hardy and adapt well to almost any environment.
- They require less space as they eat 40% less food than larger cattle.
- A diet of good pasture, hay, a salt mineral supplement, and clean water is all they need to thrive.
- They don’t require field shelters and are happy to shelter under trees and hedges.
- Cows are social animals and should not be kept alone. Two is a pair and three is a herd.
- Generally docile in nature, if handled correctly they make excellent pets.
- Miniature Herefords live on average about 15 years.
- The Barnutopia bullocks are not destined for the table but one benefit of minis is they are easier to fit in the freezer than their larger counterparts. They produce more ribeye per pound than full-size Herefords. When kept mostly on grass they have a natural marbling to their meat.
- In 2022, the typical cost of a steer in the UK is £500, while heifers cost around £1,500. Pedigree bulls may sell for £25,00 when fertility tested and at an age ready to work. Pedigree heifers are around £4,000.
- To Keep Mini Hereford cows you need a County Parish Holding” (CPH) number from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). This is the law.
- Routine tuberculosis (TB) testing is an ongoing requirement for cattle:
- Every 6 months in High-Risk Areas (HRA).
- Once a year or every 6 months in Edge Areas (EA).
- Once every 4 years in Low-Risk Areas (LRA).
- Miniature Hereford cattle are better for the environment. It takes ten mini cows to produce the same amount of greenhouse gases (methane) as one full-sized cow.
- Ben and Jerry were bred and raised by Helen Forsyth of Hodgehurst farm, Much Wenlock, Shropshire.
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