General Cow Questions

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
4,668
Reaction score
15,895
Points
548
Location
Shenandoah Valley Virginia
Mini cows have their plusses... and minusses.....They are very expensive in comparison to the equivalent (or equal) in "normal size" cattle. There is no value as a cull cow if you were to sell at say a normal stockyard/sale barn. Unless you are going to put it in your own freezer. They have more breeding and calving problems than a full size animal and they have enough problems..... sometimes you won't have a problem for years and years, sometimes it seems like Murphy's law... if it can go wrong it will. And there is alot more money tied up than with a chicken. Even with some of the higher priced rarer purebreds.... I have had show birds of over 50 years......
They are cute, they sell well as breeding animals for people that want to have "mini's". They eat less, they produce less which can be a plus. They need less room.
They are great for someone who really likes them. There are how many different breeds of chickens???? Something for most anyone.... Same for the cattle.

If you are considering multiple species, fence for the smallest, hardest to contain species. "Field fencing" is good for cattle. It is a 6" upright stay; some is 12" stays. 48" tall most often. It will contain sheep and goats, but they can put their heads through it and get stuck especially if they have horns. Chickens can get through it. 2x4 goat/sheep/horse/no climb fencing will keep most everything in. More expensive. Probably double the cost, or more. I don't know if it comes in different heights. the "4 foot height" is pretty standard.... I think it is actually 47" but I'm talking generalities.

If you are contemplating Vermont or Maine, then you are looking at 6+ months of hay.... Your growing season is 4-6 months in a good year. Here in Va we figure 8 months good to fair pasture.... mid-April to Oct/Nov... all according if we can do good rotational grazing and can stockpile grass for late fall/winter grazing. Depends on the amount of rainfall, and temps......
Hay and grain standard if there is not real good quality grazing. You have to learn to be a grass farmer.... and manage the grass....

With 10 acres, you will have to plan on only 2 or 3 animals and still realize you will have to feed hay for 6 months. They cannot be shortchanged with trying to just keep warm in the cold temps up there. Not to mention being able to produce milk or gain to become a beef down the road.

I am originally from CT, cousins were dairy farmers in VT, family in NH. I wanted to go north, but realized that the growing season was much better in Va and still able to have mountains, and winter.... but not so much, or lasting so long. Born and raised in Stamford, CT., lived outside Newtown for nearly 10 years and then moved south. Spent a good part of my life as a kid in VT with family.... and family owned properties. Loved the Green mountains, but realized that it was too hard to make a living there as a farmer; this was back in the 1980's..... unless you could own the property outright without a mortgage..... even it is very tough to make it.

I am not trying to be negative.... go into this with your eyes open and you will have the best chance of surviving and even thriving. Starting now is the smartest thing you are doing to learn. :thumbsup Check with your local extension service.... see if they offer any classes, seminars.... and sign up and go to them ( or on line or whatever they are doing)..... volunteer with a 4-H club or FFA..... get some "dirty hands on" experience. Find out if you even like working with whatever breed you are interested in. I am not a goat person.....don't hate them, but just don't care for them. Many are not cattle people. Then you also have to consider the size and what you are comfortable with working with. How tied down do you want to be.... dairy cows and goats need milking.... meat breeds, beef cattle, are not as labor intensive on a day to day thing. Sheep are a different story than goats.... wool or hair breeds..... I like sheep.
Hogs are one of the faster turn arounds for meat in the freezer from a piglet.... but you have to have good fences.....

Lots to consider.....
 

Fishychix

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Dec 6, 2020
Messages
24
Reaction score
44
Points
66
Location
NE Ohio
I"m not being asked, but MY opinion on mini cows is that they're adorable but for some reason not as appealing as big cows..........but mini cows aer pretty cool.
Lol! They are adorable arent they? Its like having perpetual calves, but better (maybe, lol) 🥰
By the way, Hi! Black_cat :) 👋
 

Fishychix

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Dec 6, 2020
Messages
24
Reaction score
44
Points
66
Location
NE Ohio
Mini cows have their plusses... and minusses.....They are very expensive in comparison to the equivalent (or equal) in "normal size" cattle. There is no value as a cull cow if you were to sell at say a normal stockyard/sale barn. Unless you are going to put it in your own freezer. They have more breeding and calving problems than a full size animal and they have enough problems..... sometimes you won't have a problem for years and years, sometimes it seems like Murphy's law... if it can go wrong it will. And there is alot more money tied up than with a chicken. Even with some of the higher priced rarer purebreds.... I have had show birds of over 50 years......
They are cute, they sell well as breeding animals for people that want to have "mini's". They eat less, they produce less which can be a plus. They need less room.
They are great for someone who really likes them. There are how many different breeds of chickens???? Something for most anyone.... Same for the cattle.

If you are considering multiple species, fence for the smallest, hardest to contain species. "Field fencing" is good for cattle. It is a 6" upright stay; some is 12" stays. 48" tall most often. It will contain sheep and goats, but they can put their heads through it and get stuck especially if they have horns. Chickens can get through it. 2x4 goat/sheep/horse/no climb fencing will keep most everything in. More expensive. Probably double the cost, or more. I don't know if it comes in different heights. the "4 foot height" is pretty standard.... I think it is actually 47" but I'm talking generalities.

If you are contemplating Vermont or Maine, then you are looking at 6+ months of hay.... Your growing season is 4-6 months in a good year. Here in Va we figure 8 months good to fair pasture.... mid-April to Oct/Nov... all according if we can do good rotational grazing and can stockpile grass for late fall/winter grazing. Depends on the amount of rainfall, and temps......
Hay and grain standard if there is not real good quality grazing. You have to learn to be a grass farmer.... and manage the grass....

With 10 acres, you will have to plan on only 2 or 3 animals and still realize you will have to feed hay for 6 months. They cannot be shortchanged with trying to just keep warm in the cold temps up there. Not to mention being able to produce milk or gain to become a beef down the road.

I am originally from CT, cousins were dairy farmers in VT, family in NH. I wanted to go north, but realized that the growing season was much better in Va and still able to have mountains, and winter.... but not so much, or lasting so long. Born and raised in Stamford, CT., lived outside Newtown for nearly 10 years and then moved south. Spent a good part of my life as a kid in VT with family.... and family owned properties. Loved the Green mountains, but realized that it was too hard to make a living there as a farmer; this was back in the 1980's..... unless you could own the property outright without a mortgage..... even it is very tough to make it.

I am not trying to be negative.... go into this with your eyes open and you will have the best chance of surviving and even thriving. Starting now is the smartest thing you are doing to learn. :thumbsup Check with your local extension service.... see if they offer any classes, seminars.... and sign up and go to them ( or on line or whatever they are doing)..... volunteer with a 4-H club or FFA..... get some "dirty hands on" experience. Find out if you even like working with whatever breed you are interested in. I am not a goat person.....don't hate them, but just don't care for them. Many are not cattle people. Then you also have to consider the size and what you are comfortable with working with. How tied down do you want to be.... dairy cows and goats need milking.... meat breeds, beef cattle, are not as labor intensive on a day to day thing. Sheep are a different story than goats.... wool or hair breeds..... I like sheep.
Hogs are one of the faster turn arounds for meat in the freezer from a piglet.... but you have to have good fences.....

Lots to consider.....
Wow! Lots of good pointers. 😻 for what its worth, i didn’t think you were being negative.
 

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
4,668
Reaction score
15,895
Points
548
Location
Shenandoah Valley Virginia
I like to see someone trying to learn first..... It can be daunting. Some of us ..... :hide :duc many of us, have jumped in and then learned later.... sometimes to financial disasters, sometimes with luck and learning as we/they go....
I just want to make sure that people don't go in with a "bambi complex"..... and yes, I like the bambi movie.... but it is NOT reality.....
Keep asking, someone will answer because you are showing good judgement in trying to learn.
 

Grant

Loving the herd life
Joined
Oct 6, 2018
Messages
258
Reaction score
661
Points
178
Location
SW Missouri
Now I’ll come back. I like minis. Mine are crossed with full size genetics so they are what I would call mid sized. My heifers are highland x Hereford. My bull is mini British park x Wagyu. Everyone will be 2 years in March-May and should have calves in that range of time. I have 4 total on about 6 fenced acres. I have 3 more acres ready to fence, I’ll need the extra space once the calves are eating. Advantage, you can carry about 2x the mini animals on the same acres as full size. Most can be milked for the average family and provide plenty. I selected and got very lucky to find just what I wanted. It doesn’t always work out that way.

Don’t overlook the ease of handling the smaller animals either, especially if you aren’t used to cattle. They are bigger, stronger and faster than you. Always know where everyone is and be aware of their temperaments. Don’t be afraid to cull problem animals.

And minis in my area are not nearly as premium priced as they are in other areas.
 

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
4,668
Reaction score
15,895
Points
548
Location
Shenandoah Valley Virginia
I think that the crosses that @Grant has will be better for breeding and calving than straight mini's. And yes, it is definitely better to be in an area where they are more common so more reasonable priced. The one thing with mini's that has to be considered, is the dwarf gene ( bulldog gene), that is much more common in mini's. There will be an occasional dwarf in big cattle as the gene is a recessive and can be hidden way back in some families of cattle.

Don't get me wrong, I think they are cute.... but we farm for a living and they are not practical nor are they feasible financially when you are producing for the commercial feeder market. If I had my way, I would have a half dozen belted galloways, a few more longhorns, and some dutch belted dairy cows to also milk. And I like herefords.... but all these breeds take a huge hit here at the markets and there are not enough consistent buyers of specialty beef here, because there is too much "regular" beef available. So I only have a couple "oddballs" mixed in with the commercial cattle, to keep peace with my son.
There is a place for many different breeds and sizes of cattle. Just be aware of the potential problems and if you are not experienced, then working with more "exotic" or small sized cattle, there are possibly more difficulties. There are 3 "sizes of Jerseys" I am told.... Mini's,; a "smaller" mid sized,; and a "regular " jersey. I think that the more modern jersey is getting a little too big and "too dairy"..... A more medium sized cow is my preference.... but that is me.....
 

black_cat

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Sep 8, 2020
Messages
32
Reaction score
42
Points
56
I think that the crosses that @Grant has will be better for breeding and calving than straight mini's. And yes, it is definitely better to be in an area where they are more common so more reasonable priced. The one thing with mini's that has to be considered, is the dwarf gene ( bulldog gene), that is much more common in mini's. There will be an occasional dwarf in big cattle as the gene is a recessive and can be hidden way back in some families of cattle.

Don't get me wrong, I think they are cute.... but we farm for a living and they are not practical nor are they feasible financially when you are producing for the commercial feeder market. If I had my way, I would have a half dozen belted galloways, a few more longhorns, and some dutch belted dairy cows to also milk. And I like herefords.... but all these breeds take a huge hit here at the markets and there are not enough consistent buyers of specialty beef here, because there is too much "regular" beef available. So I only have a couple "oddballs" mixed in with the commercial cattle, to keep peace with my son.
There is a place for many different breeds and sizes of cattle. Just be aware of the potential problems and if you are not experienced, then working with more "exotic" or small sized cattle, there are possibly more difficulties. There are 3 "sizes of Jerseys" I am told.... Mini's,; a "smaller" mid sized,; and a "regular " jersey. I think that the more modern jersey is getting a little too big and "too dairy"..... A more medium sized cow is my preference.... but that is me.....
What is the dwarf gene? (Don't worry I have more takeaways from your post than that, I just am too tired to think about real questions)
 

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
4,668
Reaction score
15,895
Points
548
Location
Shenandoah Valley Virginia
I can't spout it off , off the top of my head. But look up dwarfism in cattle, and you will find lots of info. It is seen in both angus and herefords, but is caused and affected by some similar and some different genes. I think that it is more widespread in herefords, but maybe not so much now. Dwarfism and bulldog gene are actually 2 separate problems I think... but most old time cattle people group them together.
We have had cleft palates in cattle on occasion, but have only had 2 calves that I would call dwarfs over the years. I think that the dwarf gene is more prominent in the mini's due to the breeding for small size.....But I am not a geneticist....
 

Baymule

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
20,758
Reaction score
52,073
Points
823
Location
Northeast Texas
What is the dwarf gene? (Don't worry I have more takeaways from your post than that, I just am too tired to think about real questions)
Link for a discussion on dwarf mini horses:

Dwarfism in cattle:

 

Grant

Loving the herd life
Joined
Oct 6, 2018
Messages
258
Reaction score
661
Points
178
Location
SW Missouri
And mine aren’t going to market. I will eat one and have a friend who has committed to buying a finished calf each year for consumption. If you have small acreage, I really think that is about the best situation. Selling a single calf at auction rarely does well and you can’t raise volume to make it pay off. I’m a family of 2. Butchering a 1500 lb animal doesn’t make sense for me. The smaller breeds fit my need better.

I agree you have to be careful on what you buy.
 
Top