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Opinions on miniature cattle?

MoovItCow

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I am in my planning stages of our farm and I would like to raise some cattle. I have about 9 Ac of open space. I bale most of it now for the horses at parents place. I am considering miniature cattle for their size and they do well on a grass fed program, among other things. What opinions do you guys have, good, bad or otherwise? Any obvious benefits? I assume they would be marketed as freezer beef, breeding stock etc. Not something you would take to the sale barn. I'm taking this all in, so let me know good or bad.
 

msscamp

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I just don't get the minature cow/horse concept. Before anyone jumps down my throat, I'm by no means knocking or condemning it - I just don't understand it. What is the point? :???: They are too small to make it worthwhile to butcher them, the horses are too little to ride, so the only purpose I can see for raising them would be to show them or for pets, and they eat too darned much to be a pet. Would someone please explain the reasoning behind miniature cattle and/or horses to me? :help: :? :?
 

hillsdown

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msscamp":25wo6dtx said:
I just don't get the minature cow/horse concept. Before anyone jumps down my throat, I'm by no means knocking or condemning it - I just don't understand it. What is the point? :???: They are too small to make it worthwhile to butcher them, the horses are too little to ride, so the only purpose I can see for raising them would be to show them or for pets, and they eat too darned much to be a pet. Would someone please explain the reasoning behind miniature cattle and/or horses to me? :help: :? :?

My husbands uncle in the Netherlands had miniature Shetlands on his acreage and the only thing they were good for was wanting their @sses scratched or kicking you in the behind when you turned your back... :lol2:

BTW they wanted me to scratch their behinds and went after hubby when he would walk away.......... :cowboy:
 

CKC1586

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Well, I asked a mini guy what they yielded and he said about 75% and that people liked the minis cuz they could buy a half and put it in their freezer and the steaks were smaller and that is what customers wanted. Said that folks with smaller acreage liked them cuz they could run more on fewer acres. Seems like 75% is high and I wonder why someone would want a tiny steak. So I'm with you. I don't think I get it.
 

redcowsrule33

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It's a niche market like anything else. I can see where they might be easier to handle and the people who want the small steaks would get sucked in by the cute factor, too, if you invited them to see the animals. Personally it's not for me. I think if you watch the quality of the animals you raise it could do okay for a niche freezer beef market. There are people out there that are making them like the "designer dogs". Like those behind this website: www.minicattle.com. That's just hype.
 

mnmtranching

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May be OK for the freezer market. They have little value other wise. Some miniature Hereford calves sold at Wed feeder calf sale. .40 cents per pounds. Same weight choice calves brought $1.20 and more.
 

cmf1

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I've found it to be a curious thing so I've been asking and reading about'em for better than a year, and so far this is what I think I know.
Most regular cattle people say there ain't no such thing as minnies, just runts. Even producers of some of the "hobby stock" breeds have told me this.
But I guess if you breed the runts to the runts, you're gonna end up with "minnies", so that would mean you got yourself a minniature breed.
They say that the minnies do a better job of grass conversion.
I eat alot more feed than my children do, but we're all fairly healthy with me weighing about twice as much (...maybe more ;-) ). So the same grocery store would support more of my children than it would me.
There is a developing trend (not wide spread, and mainly among urbanites and some suburbanites, but still a trend) to purchase smaller cuts and quantities of beef. Supposedly they do this more often than when they used to buy jumbo packs of whatever.
This market also believes that beef that has passed through fewer hands and feed lots is healthier beef. (can o' worms, can o' worms, can o' worms....)
Supposedly you don't need as much or as expensive equipment to handle and manage smaller beef.
That sounds like a way to get yourself trampled by a 800-1000 pound bull rather than a1800-2200 pound bull. (I'll take the equipment and save money).. medical bills and such))
I have surmised that minnies could be as profitable as maxies in relationship to outlay. (Less dollars out less dollars in. More dollars out more dollars in), so long as you run either as a buisness.
With the minnies you're going to have to create your own market and niche, but you have more control over prices.
The regular beef market is already in place but you have very little control over prices.
I've considered it regularly and wax back and forth. But I'm a sucker for livestock production of any kind on my little place. (the new government's probably gonna force me to raise salt marsh mice.)
 

Frankie

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MoovItCow":2hxs9bfd said:
I am in my planning stages of our farm and I would like to raise some cattle. I have about 9 Ac of open space. I bale most of it now for the horses at parents place. I am considering miniature cattle for their size and they do well on a grass fed program, among other things. What opinions do you guys have, good, bad or otherwise? Any obvious benefits? I assume they would be marketed as freezer beef, breeding stock etc. Not something you would take to the sale barn. I'm taking this all in, so let me know good or bad.

My suggestion: Before you buy miniatures, find someone raising them who's not trying to sell you their cattle. Walk around and look at their operation. Get them to look you in the eye and tell you that they're making money selling these animals as beef. Like most people on this thread, I don't see how you could make it work.

A miniature has the same set of muscles as a regular sized cow. They're just smaller. So if they're processed into the same cuts, you'll have smaller cuts. Some people might want smaller cuts, but the steak houses are selling lots of 12-16 oz ribeyes.
 

CattleHand

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I couldnt see how you would make a profit. When you buy them to raise/as stock I imagine they come at a premium. But when you sell them I imagine you get docked unless you know a nut who really wants them.
 

djinwa

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This is probably the wrong place to ask about miniatures. Most here are dedicated to industrial cattle production. As I've explained it, you don't go to a trucker convention and ask what the best car is for hauling groceries. Truck drivers deal with the most efficient hauling of large loads - tractor/trailer. Yes, that is most efficient, but not if hauling household groceries. Likewise, industrial cattle production is most efficient at producing large quantities of beef, but if you don't need alot.....

msscamp":njxpg0np said:
I just don't get the minature cow/horse concept. Before anyone jumps down my throat, I'm by no means knocking or condemning it - I just don't understand it. What is the point? :???: They are too small to make it worthwhile to butcher them, the horses are too little to ride, so the only purpose I can see for raising them would be to show them or for pets, and they eat too darned much to be a pet. Would someone please explain the reasoning behind miniature cattle and/or horses to me? :help: :? :?

Too small to butcher? So, rabbits and chickens and turkeys and hogs and sheep can't be butchered because they're under 1500 pounds? How large is large enough? Sure it's more efficient to run a big steer through a processing plant, but there is a world outside of them.

What's wrong with pets that can be eaten? Seems there is less questioning of people who have "regular" horses they never ride, or dogs they spend hundreds/thousands of dollars on, etc. Sure, small cattle don't fit the industrial production model, but does that mean people on small acreage should raise something with NO value? My brother has 3 Belgian draft horses to which he feeds over $5,000 of hay yearly (dairy quality irrigated alfalfa he raises) so they can do nothing. Is that more understandable to you than someone who raises and eats a small beef? Is it better to have a useless horse weighing a ton than one weighing a quarter ton?

Some of us just want a cow or two to mess with. A small cow still qualifies, with less crap, less stress on fences and pens, less tearing up the ground, etc.

And yes, according to the laws of physics, a small animal is easier to handle, and less likely to hurt you than a big animal. I actually had a guy tell me it hurts no worse to get stepped on by a 1600 pound cow than an 800 pound cow. Huh? I guess a mouse hoof hurts just the same, too.

Like it or not, the population is growing fast, and acreages will be smaller. They say the population in our area will triple by 2055. Farmland disappearing daily. Some people might want a cow or two but only have an acre or two.
 

msscamp

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djinwa":19nrtvzq said:
This is probably the wrong place to ask about miniatures. Most here are dedicated to industrial cattle production. As I've explained it, you don't go to a trucker convention and ask what the best car is for hauling groceries. Truck drivers deal with the most efficient hauling of large loads - tractor/trailer. Yes, that is most efficient, but not if hauling household groceries. Likewise, industrial cattle production is most efficient at producing large quantities of beef, but if you don't need alot.....

msscamp":19nrtvzq said:
I just don't get the minature cow/horse concept. Before anyone jumps down my throat, I'm by no means knocking or condemning it - I just don't understand it. What is the point? :???: They are too small to make it worthwhile to butcher them, the horses are too little to ride, so the only purpose I can see for raising them would be to show them or for pets, and they eat too darned much to be a pet. Would someone please explain the reasoning behind miniature cattle and/or horses to me? :help: :? :?

Too small to butcher? So, rabbits and chickens and turkeys and hogs and sheep can't be butchered because they're under 1500 pounds? How large is large enough? Sure it's more efficient to run a big steer through a processing plant, but there is a world outside of them.

What's wrong with pets that can be eaten? Seems there is less questioning of people who have "regular" horses they never ride, or dogs they spend hundreds/thousands of dollars on, etc. Sure, small cattle don't fit the industrial production model, but does that mean people on small acreage should raise something with NO value? My brother has 3 Belgian draft horses to which he feeds over $5,000 of hay yearly (dairy quality irrigated alfalfa he raises) so they can do nothing. Is that more understandable to you than someone who raises and eats a small beef? Is it better to have a useless horse weighing a ton than one weighing a quarter ton?

Some of us just want a cow or two to mess with. A small cow still qualifies, with less crap, less stress on fences and pens, less tearing up the ground, etc.

And yes, according to the laws of physics, a small animal is easier to handle, and less likely to hurt you than a big animal. I actually had a guy tell me it hurts no worse to get stepped on by a 1600 pound cow than an 800 pound cow. Huh? I guess a mouse hoof hurts just the same, too.

Like it or not, the population is growing fast, and acreages will be smaller. They say the population in our area will triple by 2055. Farmland disappearing daily. Some people might want a cow or two but only have an acre or two.

Who pissed in your Cheerios this morning? Back off and chill out! :roll:
 

bear

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Do a search on Dexter cattle. They claim higher quality meat and taste. May be more of a novelty. I don't know any more than what I read on the search!

Bear
 

grannysoo

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To each their own.

You might want to consider some alpacas and ostriches too......... (just kidding!)

I think that it's a fad that will go away in time.
 

MoovItCow

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I appreciate all over your opnions. That's what this is for right? I would prefer full sized cattle but I am trying find a way to have cattle on my small farm and not have it cost/lose money. I understan the ups and downs of the business but over all I don't want to pay for them as yard art. If you can't at least break even then why bother. A little profit would be nice which why I've considered the mini's. I figured it might be touchy subject to some people on here. However, it is a niche market with possibility for success. Thank you for your thoughts.
 

kscowboy

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I find them convenient cuz you can just throw the whole thing in the freezer...Sounds like a loser or nice tax write off but not a profitable operation unless you are just selling breeding stock to other folks at a high price , kind of like llamas and alpacas.
 

BeefmasterB

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I would probably just get a few normal sized cows based on your grass quality and volume. The miniatures are definitley a niche market and may cost you more time to establish any kind of market than you might know.
 

KNERSIE

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I raise regular sized cattle, but I can see the merit of the miniature cattle. They must be easier on fences, just compare a bull to cows, its just a fact that a bull will do more damage simply because he is bigger and heavier. Both just want a bite of the grass on the otherside, the one can just continue to walk on with the fence if he wants.

On the smaller carcass issue, at a time I sold a lot of freezer beef and I've done my own processing, handling "baby beeves" is just so much easier than a bigger heavier carcass. I prefer to butcher mine young (11-12 months), for a specific market, but I can see where minis could fill this role.

Handling them would most likely also be alot easier and require much cheaper equipment, but you still need handling facilities.

My main gripe is with the selection process and the lack of a set benchmark when it comes to size. In the miniature world smaller is better and sells for more money, regardless of overall quality. This means that the drive is there for continual selection for smaller stock, this simply means the selection of runts. If you continue to breed the smallest (slowest growing) bull to the smallest cow (slowest growing). You are effectively selecting for runts. This single trait selection shows up in the miniature stock, even in the Largent's stock who started the miniature hereford breed many years ago.

For the miniature breeders to be taken seriously by the full sized cattle breeders they firstly need to decide on an ideal sized carcass, I would think it should be around a frame 0 or 1, then select the fastest growing stock to get to that frame 0 or 1 as effectively as possible with the best possible FCR. Throughout they need to pay attention to overall quality including phenotype, maternal and carcass traits.

I think there are many opportunities to do this simply by buying the miniature culls (those that are just to big to be sold for a good price) and breeding them to a really old pony style bull and retain your own breeding stock from this cross and linebreeding them. Unfortunately it means that this eliminates the hobbyist who isn't prepared to do some serious study on breeding methodologies. The other downside is that you need to be willing and able to do you own beef marketing as the current market might not be as excited about your product as you are.
 

djinwa

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Knersie, I don't think small cattle will ever be taken seriously by those with larger ones. It's a different world. Those who drive Kenworths laugh at guys in Fords who laugh at guys in Toyotas.

I often wonder how we arbitrarily decided what the "proper" size of cattle is. We've been selecting for runts for a long time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurochs

The size of the ancient aurochs was far larger than most modern cattle, approximately 2 metres (6.5 feet) at the shoulder, and weighing 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lbs).
 

ga. prime

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djinwa":131fv7yk said:
I often wonder how we arbitrarily decided what the "proper" size of cattle is.
It wasn't decided arbitrarily at all. It was decided by the marketplace and the laws of economics.
 

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