Mini Moo.
May 25, 2009 10:10 AM   Subscribe

In these hard economic times, everyone's feeling the pinch. Some farmers have started downsizing to miniature cows.
posted by grapefruitmoon (35 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
What kind of diseases do these animals have?
posted by kldickson at 10:23 AM on May 25, 2009

Thanks, grapefruitmoon. I also hear good things about Dexters.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:24 AM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is that cow wearing a beret?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:34 AM on May 25, 2009

posted by Ufez Jones at 10:35 AM on May 25, 2009

Is that where White Castle burgers come from?
posted by Jon-o at 10:35 AM on May 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

Frickin' adorable!
posted by chara at 11:00 AM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think I heard on NPR that smaller breeds of cattle were generally more healthy, less prone to disease, and required far less antibiotics than big cows. Interesting that a lot conventional wisdom about megafarming -- the "bigger is better" attitude -- is being refuted by these animals. I liked the "more sirloin than soup bone" quote especially.
posted by boo_radley at 11:05 AM on May 25, 2009

I've got a Dexter, Monkey Toes. Actually two, since she just calved. Also three Lowlines, also a small breed. They're all easy to manage, have great conversion rates -- meaning they don't need as much grass to produce as much meat as their bigger peers -- and it's easier to keep a full herd, with a bull, on less land. Smaller is indeed better.
posted by Framer at 11:08 AM on May 25, 2009

Yay, mini-animal thread :D Thanks grapefruitmoon!
posted by grippycat at 11:24 AM on May 25, 2009

How many square feet does each cow require?
I totally want one.
posted by Jon-o at 11:26 AM on May 25, 2009

I love this photo.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:54 AM on May 25, 2009

Personally, I find myself drawn to the hearty, weather-resistant, picturesque, mini Galloway.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:03 PM on May 25, 2009

How many square feet does each cow require?

Well, the article says less than an acre, so that would likely be somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 square feet.
posted by ssg at 12:03 PM on May 25, 2009

How many square feet does each cow gallon of milk or pound of beef require?
posted by DU at 12:16 PM on May 25, 2009

DU: How many square feet does each cow gallon of milk or pound of beef require?

A Lowline gets a little bigger, has more meat on the body, and does not require "finishing" (many animals are fed special feed called "finishing feed" near the end of their lives to fatten them up to reach market size, which is called "finishing" the animal) as it reaches market size on pasture, with appropriate fat amounts. I don't know anything about their milk, but they are noted for their longevity as breeders, with heifers having a breeding life of up to 14+ years.

A Dexter should produce around 2 gallons of milk per day, and reach a live weight of 300-350kg/600/700lbs. The milk is enough to nurse multiple calves (or for you to have some and still feed her calf). They are claimed to have an 80%+ carcass yield of salable meat, so I would imagine 400lbs would be a reasonable estimate.

My understanding is that for miniature cattle, an acre is enough room to support a heifer and her calf, the simplest option to me would be to send the calf off to marker when he is of size, and then start over re-impregnating the heifer. I found this list to be a fairly interesting primer on miniature cattle, but most of the links in there are dead.

43560sqft / 400lbs meat from a single Dexter = 109sqft/pound. You would also get around a gallon of whole, raw milk a day for 9 months, since she produces enough milk to feed two calves, and you only have one. Milking her year-round significantly reduces her lifespan. 43560sqft/270 gallons (one a day for nine 30 day months) = 161 and one-third sqft/gal.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:04 PM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

These cows could be herded by children riding falabella horses.
posted by Rumple at 2:18 PM on May 25, 2009

With two calves on an acre, you would near 1ton market weight, which would be 21.78sqft/lb, but I think that is more theoretical than practical.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:20 PM on May 25, 2009

"Aren't they sweet?" asked Ali, 52, shooing Half-Pint, Buttercup and a dozen other cattle across a holding pen. "They're my babies, every little one of them."

Then she sends them off to be horribly murdered and turned into artery thickening food.

Good mothering!
posted by Malice at 2:50 PM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

horribly deliciously murdered.
posted by Jon-o at 3:04 PM on May 25, 2009 [4 favorites]

Now if only we could cut down on the size of our appetites, then we'd really have accomplished something!
posted by jamstigator at 3:26 PM on May 25, 2009

Um, cute. But you can run 6 goats where you would run one of those cows. And get 6 gallons/day instead of 2. And approximately 12 kids instead of 1 calf. So if efficiency is your goal...

And while the chances that you'll have to help your goat deliver her kids are far less than those of having to help a cow, even if you do, there's precious little chance she'll break your arm in the process. And being kicked by a goat compared to being kicked by a cow? No comparison.
posted by bricoleur at 6:47 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Whoops, forget the little cows eat less. Make that 3 goats. Still.
posted by bricoleur at 6:52 PM on May 25, 2009

They are so cute, with their tiny little sirloins and rib-eyes and sufferings.
posted by orme at 6:55 PM on May 25, 2009

bricoleur, my wife's goal is to have a little farm with a couple horses and goats. While her idea was to have them "to keep the horses company", I got her to try some Jamaican jerked goat at the Taste of Denver last year, and she thought it was pretty dang tasty. So, assuming we can find a butcher who wouldn't look askance at goat, we might be on to something wonderful.
posted by boo_radley at 7:03 PM on May 25, 2009

We've been researching Lowline cattle for our property to replace the standard sized angus and hereford we run now. Lowline are mini angus cattle that were bred in Australia as part of an scientific study into grass-meat conversion. Apparently they are easier breeders/calvers, docile, low maintenance, and the meat/bone ratio is higher (bottom of page).

The Lowline association blurb says that you can have 10 Lowline for every 6 normal sized cattle on your acreage.

I'd love to farm goats but they require hard core fencing or they eat everything in sight.
posted by Kerasia at 8:37 PM on May 25, 2009

Damn, I so want an acreage now. Miniature meat. That's just bloody brilliant! Get me some pygmy goats, Mini Rex rabbits, bantam chickens, pot bellied pigs, turn 'em into cocktail sausages little and tiny meatballs. Serve 'em up with BBQed baby red potatoes, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Have a little sour cream on the side.

Miniature bacon!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:44 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

brifcoleur - No comparison.

Well, on the taste comparison. I *cannot* stand goat and I've tried everything from hobby to commercial farmed from pit-barbequed to chops and stews. I do not like goat nor their cheese or milk. Sorry. It just tastes incredibly foul to me.

I've been around some live livestock goats - neat (if mean and gluttonous) animals, but I just cannot enjoy the flavour of their flesh.
posted by porpoise at 9:50 PM on May 25, 2009

This sounds lie a great idea for the back to nature/survivalist crowd. It also might make sense for commericial meat producters. But, having to milk 2 or more cows versus one cow these "mini' cows will not replace the Holstein cow any time soon.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 9:51 PM on May 25, 2009

Uh, no. Not real.
posted by ryanrs at 12:58 AM on May 26, 2009

Yeah, um, you know who else liked mini cows? Castro.
posted by Violet Hour at 1:39 AM on May 26, 2009

Father Dougal was right!!
posted by fallingbadgers at 2:40 AM on May 26, 2009

Sorry. It just tastes incredibly foul to me. (re goats, not the cute lil cows)

Frankly, that sounds bizarre to me. It seems unlikely that you've had a string of bad luck that long, but honestly, goat meat is a very mild flavored meat. Milder than lamb or even beef. I've never had anyone turn up their nose when I served goat, even when there were other meat entrees.

On the other hand, goat's milk that isn't super fresh does have a decided tang that I don't care for myself, except in some cheeses. Store-bought goat's milk, in particular, is foul.

The "mean and gluttonous" remark definitely stems from bad luck. I've had goats for over 20 years, and I've never had one that I hesitated to let human kids play with, even toddlers. Then again, temperament is one thing I've bred for.
posted by bricoleur at 6:16 AM on May 26, 2009

I have a mini horse and three pygmy goats, all puppy-sweet. (in temperament, not flavor. So far as I know.) There are a couple small highland cattle herds not far away and I am always tempted by their tiny, shaggy adorableness. Sadly, adorableness and meat production are not compatible in my care, and cow poop is a mess anyway.

I am amused that portion size control can be simplified right back to the steer itself, though!
posted by Lou Stuells at 3:52 PM on May 26, 2009

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