A homestead is an excellent place to raise a family and grow your food. The Thought of a cow may have crossed your mind. Miniature cattle only require small space to roam around and eat, but how much space exactly do they need? Most people raising miniature cows are doing so for the benefits of having a cow on the farm, without the costs of owning a full herd of cattle.
How Many Acres Does A Mini Cow Need? It takes 1.5 to 2 acres to feed a pair of calves for one full year. This means that a Mini Cow would need 1.5-2 acres per pair of cows or .75-1 acre per mini cow. There is a formula for which you can use that goes like this” (animals) X (average animal weight) x (.04) x (Grazing days)/ (Average Yield Per Acre in Pounds). This Formula would give you the absolute number of acres needed for the number of mini cows.
Having only a small amount of land is going to be ideal for the miniature cow and needing only half to one acre of pasture to roam per cow. You could quickly raise a pair of cows on a few acres of land. Cows are social animals and need to have a buddy to roam the pastures with at minimum. You also need to know how much foliage your field produces so that your cows don’t starve during the spring months.
What exactly is a Mini Cow?
A mini cow is a cow that was bred to be smaller than a standard-sized cow. There are different sizes of miniature cows, as well as separate breeds. The Miniature cow only takes up half of the space that a normal cow does, and they eat about 25-30% of what a normal cow would eat.
Micro cows are only three feet tall at the hip. The next class up is the Standard cow, which will get up to 42 inches tall, and then the Midsized Miniature cow that gets up to 48 inches tall. They also only need a portion of the room that a full-sized cow needs.
The materials needed to take care of the miniature cow are the same as a full-size cow; You will need a water trough and some hay bales. You just won’t need to feed them as much hay or alfalfa. You will also have less waste per cow because of the miniature size and less food intake.
The miniature cow comes in different breeds Just like normal size cows. There are mini cows from all sorts of different kinds from Texas longhorn to the Belted Galloway and even a Dexter cow. The Holstein and the Scottish cow are among some people’s favorites.
Is A Mini Cow good for a Backyard?
Depending on the size of the backyard that the cow is housed in, the mini cow could do okay with a yard that was ½ to 1 acre alone. If you have two mini cows, you will need at least two acres of land for the mini cow to graze and play with its partner.
Considering that most city ordinances prohibit the owning of livestock within city limits, you may not be able to place a mini cow in the backyard even if the space is available. In certain real estate zones, no livestock is allowed on the property, or you may have to have your property inspected by a city inspector. The mini cow is going to need a dedicated space for the cow to roam, that is fenced in unless you live in an open-range state.
You must also consider the waste cleanup efforts that it will take to keep the backyard clean. A place to store the hay is also going to be needed for certain times of the year, along with a place to keep the cattle warm if you live in a snowy environment. It would be recommended not to place a mini cow in a traditional backyard. It would be advised to have at least five acres free before adding mini cows to the land.
How Many Mini Cows Per Acre?
The general rule of thumb is one mini cow per acre of land. There is a formula to figure out exactly how many cows per acre you can have as well as how many acres you need for x amount of cows. There would be several reasons to use either formula, depending on the circumstances.
If you have a limited amount of land but would like to start a mini cow farm, you want to know how many animals your pasture can hold. If you have a plethora of land but want to keep your livestock contained in a specific area, the minimum amount of land formula would be the way to go.
First, let us get some general knowledge out of the way. A cow will consume 3% of his body weight in foliage daily, they will also trample over .05% of the area, and then you need a suitable buffer or margin of error, so we need to add .5-1% for that. This percentage is the amount of daily “utilization” for your fields.
We will use 4% as a good rule of thumb. The next assumption is that the pasture is producing at a regular rate with no added constraints, such as dry land, or anything but grass in the area. You can only count the area that has food for the cows on it as acres. You are going to need to measure the growth of your pasture using a C-Dax or Growth plate.
For this example, we are going to use 7500 pounds per acre per year of foliage. It is recommended that you run both formulas to double-check the math, as they are inverses of each other.
Formula 1 ((TA)x(AYPA)) / ((.04)x(AAW)x(GD)) How many animals can go on The Farm?
Formula 2 ((A)x(AAW)x(.04)x(GD)) / (AYPA) How Many Acres are needed?
|Total Animals||Average Yield per acre||Animal Average Weight||Grazing Days||Animals|
Just substitute your numbers for the Letters and follow the algorithm.
Do Mini Cows Make Good Pets?
Mini cows come in three sizes, as discussed earlier. Out of those, the Micro cows make great pets. They are very affectionate and easy to provide proper care. They will not get any bigger than 3 feet tall at the hips. Stay away from the Longhorn unless you have experience with cattle.
The Miniature Holstein is amongst the fan favorites for miniature pet cows. They are the Iconic black and white cows. That everyone knows and loves. Holstein makes a great teaching cow for children; also, it is an excellent way to teach them some farming habits early on.
The Dexter cow is probably the most common Miniature cow; however, they also will get about 26-42 inches tall at the hip. These cows are great for saving space and needing only ½ an acre per cow. These cows also eat less than a standard cow, simply because of their body weight.
If you are aiming for a pet mini cow, you should have at least two cows. These cows need a companion even if it is a pony! The Cow is a social animal and needs to be cared for on a consistent schedule. You also want to get some good food for the mini cows, and if you are Hay feeding them, a Bail should last two cows for about a week!
The Herefords make a great pet as they are generally pretty calm cows and can easily be Halter trained. These cows are miniature mini’s, and the calves only weigh about 60 pounds; these are perfect for teaching a toddler how to handle cattle.
Here is a neat video about having a mini cow as a pet!
Does a Mini Cow Produce Milk?
As with a regular cow, it depends on the cow. A Miniature Jersey cow produces milk regularly and needs to be milked twice a day. The Miniature Texas Longhorn, however, does not need to be milked but can if you choose this cow for a milking cow. The higher the fat content in this milk makes it harder to process for drinking. Processing the Milk would be the same process as processing dairy cows’ milk.
The standard miniature milk cow will produce about 1-1/2 gallons of milk per milking. You can milk them on a regular schedule and provide the same types of creams needed to produce butter, drinking milk, cheese, and cream. The milk fat content of a miniature jersey cow is around five percent.
You made need to invest in a milk machine (view on Amazon) to help you with milking the cow; however, it is well worth it. Some homemade ice cream is worth it alone.
The Miniature cow does have multiple uses aside from only milk; The miniature cow can also be sold as a meat cow. Though the milk cow may not produce the amount of beef that an Angus cow may, they can still be processed for a good meal.
Miniature cows are ideal for raising for meat because of their low-cost maintenance and high yields. If you are looking for A meat cow specifically, then you would want to get a Miniature Angus cow. These cows should be breed and used for meat when the timing is correct. You can also sell off the steers to other farmers.
How Long Does a Mini Cow Live?
A healthy, well cared for a mini cow can live between 20-25 years. This is under the assumption that the mini cow has limited health problems, and a healthy diet as well as an active lifestyle. The cow also needs to be in a controlled environment to avoid environmental factors that can shorten the cow’s lifespan.
The mini cow does not typically have a lot of medical conditions to worry about; the mini cow doesn’t get mad cow disease or any of the other medical conditions that other cows have. Some breeds of cows are more prone to injury than others.
If you adopt some Texas Long Horn Miniature cows, it would be an excellent idea to dehorn the cattle or pay to have them de-horned. Cattle with horns tend to injure themselves or other calves when they get aggressive towards each other.
Protecting your cow against predators is also a secret to having your cows live a long life, and getting a good cattle guard dog. The cattle guard dog is different from your family pet and needs to be handled differently. They also require training either by a handler or sometimes you can train a puppy if you already have a trained guard dog. The dog stays with the cattle and lives amongst them ready at a moment’s notice to ward off cougars, wolves, and bears.
Grooming a Mini Cow
People like to take their mini cows to shows and showing them off; however, they can get quite messy in their fields. The Mini cow is going to need a bath and a trim to get ready for the big show. You want to make their whites whiter and their blacks darker. You can pick up an excellent shampoo to give your mini cow a bath and clip before the show.
You can put some oil on the mini cow’s coat to soften the hair up a bit before clipping the cow’s coat. You will also need to place your cow inside of a trimming stand (click to see on Amazon) with a headpiece to hold the cattle in place. After you trim the cow, you can make the mini cow into a good show cow. The rule is that if you can see through the hair, it must be clipped. You also want to blow the clipped hair off the cow instead of washing the cow with a hose.
If you your mini cow will be a show cow, you want to brush your cow at least twice a week, for show cows, if not every day. Continuing to brush the cow daily will help train the cow’s hair in which way to grow. You will want to look into the following items if you intend to groom and show your cow:
- Cow glue
- White Powder
- Tail Glue
- Black cattle paint
- Black cattle primer paint
- Black cattle Paint finisher
- Pro Remover
Here is an excellent instructional video about clipping cattle
Mini Cow as a Therapy Cow?
There is a mini cow therapy barn in New York that also offer goat yoga and other emotional support animals that extend beyond canines and alligators (It’s a thing, really it is, check it out).
“A Cow’s body temperature is warmer than ours, and their heartbeat is lower, so cuddling up with one is relaxing,” according to NPR. Other studies have also shown that human interaction with other animals improves social skills and lowers stress. Horses help develop social skills amongst teenagers, according to Eurekalert.org.
There are a lot of registered emotional support animals across the country—everything from Dogs to cows to alligators. Emotional support animals are not a thing of the past; they are going to be increasing in popularity because of the nature and human disconnect that is occurring with the technological advancements that we make.
A Mini cow can most definitely be a therapy cow, especially the Scottish mini cows, simply because they have a friendly-looking vibe for a cow. You can even take mini Betsie on road trips if you have a trailer to take her in.
Raising Beef Cattle for Beginners
Starting a beef herd can be intimidating. You might wonder what cow to begin with, and how do you know how much beef you will get. Most people are going to start with a steer for meat since the meat is softer, and the yields are higher. Keep one steer for breeding with other mini cows.
Finding a good steer can also be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for. You want to find a good-sized framed cow, that doesn’t have any tumors, or sunken in eyes or obvious health issues. The steer should have a healthy look overall.
The steer will need to be able to grow a little before slaughter, and since these are mini steers, you probably want to keep these for a few years. You only need one good bull; the other steers are going to be sold for meat.
Pick two or three good steers at first, and make sure that you have adequate space for them to roam. They should stay in their area mostly and play with each other until they hit adolescence. At this time, the Steers should be ready to sell off either to another farmer or the meat house.
Feeding Mini Cattle
Feeding mini cows is similar to feeding regular cows, just not as much food. There are some benefits to feeding the cattle only hay or grass feed. You can also feed your cattle oats, but you want to limit the oats to only 25% of their diet.
Oats will increase their energy level and help the mini cow gain some mass; The oats are not the ideal substance the cow should be eating. Cows enjoy a grass diet that is high in fiber and hulls. A Mini cow will consume far less than a regular-sized cow, so the bale of hay should last twice as long.
The cow will eat one flake of hay per feeding roughly, and there are about ten flakes per hay bale. You should place the flake inside of a feeding trough designed for the cows to eat their hay. These troughs usually will have four or five bars separating the cattle heads so they can all eat together.
Another method is to spread the hay flakes out into the field where the cattle are grazing. Just don’t put them too close together as this may discourage a cow from eating if there is an aggressive eater in the bunch.
Caring for Your Mini Cow
Cows are social animals and need socialization; they spook easy, and mini cows are no different. They are social; however, they are also a little cautious when it comes to new environments. Cows can adapt to almost any situation as long as there is grass. Modern cows live on farms and are extinct in the wild.
Since these animals are 100% domesticated, they also have a hard time outside the pen and away from other livestock. The Cow also has a great memory and will remember things and places from ages ago, so if a mini cow happens to get hurt climbing under a fence, they will remember and not do it again.
Mini cows do not need to have heavy-duty fencing that helps keep them inside the pen. Mini cows can do just fine with a traditional ranch style round rail fence. A happy cow will stay with the herd, like a happy dog that will remain at home. If your cow is miserable, then naturally, they will want to travel elsewhere, thinking that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
Cows and Thunderstorms
Thunderstorms can easily scare cattle, and lighting poses a significant danger to livestock. A lightning rod installed on the property could be the difference between a cow surviving the lighting storm and the cow not surviving the storm. Cows gather in a giant herd when a lightning storm is happening, and typically are all touching each other. For this reason, we hear of cows being struck by lightning because of transference.
One way to protect cows is to build the cows a three-sided shelter (source). The three-sided shelter can provide a haven for the cattle during the storm. It can also keep them dry during the storm. Building a snow fence can help during blizzards or even help slow down the wind for the cattle during the thunderstorm. To learn more about snow fences, check out this article from Slate.
Having wooden fences if your cattle are outdoors can help save some lives. While the animals are bunched up together, a few of them may stick their heads through the fence. If lightning strikes the wall or close to it, then the electricity will travel through all the cows. Wet wood can still conduct electricity, but it is safer than standing under a tree. Some farmers use barbed wire fences to discourage cattle from gathering around the fence.
To protect your cow during a storm, keep your pastures and areas clean and free of debris. The debris can fly around during a storm and crash into an unsuspecting mini cow. Having a place for the cattle to go in the event of a flood in the field can also help save lives. You also want to have several excess supplies to help the cows if they do become injured during the thunderstorm.
Myth: Cows are Dumb
A myth that we want to clear up here is the belief that cows are dumb and have no idea what is going on. This statement could not be any farther away from the truth.
- Developed language amongst small groups and different dialects of Cow Talk!
- Cows have favorite friends and feel stress measured by cortisol levels. When their “Friend” is around, their stress levels decrease.
- Cows enjoy a good Pampering
- Cows share 80% of our Genes; they have a total of 22,000 genes.
- Cows have a photographic memory; they remember everything, literally everything.
- Cows have a social order, and there is one queen cow within the herd.
- Cows are affectionate and forgiving and love belly rubs
They seem pretty smart to me.
You can read more about cattle accomplishments here.
Interesting Cow Facts
Need a few facts for trivia night. Here are three:
- It would take five people to tip one cow over, according to the University of British Columbia. And cows spend around 12 hours a day lying down anyway; the chances are that cow was sick.
- The University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany found that cows face magnetic north or south when grazing or resting regardless of the sun’s position. NPR has the full story here.
- Surprisingly Bulls and Cows can’t see the color red. They can, however, see movement in a 300-degree radius.
Having a good quality homestead is something that we can all look forward too. The chicken clucking in the background, the dogs are chasing the wildlife, the almost-ripe tomatoes. You can live a satisfying homestead life even without a Mini Cow. A cow is a bonus. Grabbing an excellent stainless-steel double boiler and a Butter churn, you can have the most affordable and healthy lifestyle that you could live.
“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.” – Abraham Lincoln