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GETTING STARTED WITH MINIATURE CATTLE
FROM THE MINIATURE CATTLE RESEARCH FACILITY AT HAPPY MOUNTAIN® MINIATURE CATTLE FARM COVINGTON, WASHINGTON U.S.A.A DIVISION OF BEEF BREEDERS FOR THE FUTURE CORPORATION
Because small acreage farms are on the increase there will be continued increased demand for miniature cattle. They are ideal for the small acreage farms of the world. Also, it seems few people are aware of this small farm alternative. Increased awareness will also cause increased demand. There are basically five markets for the smaller bovine. They are the pet market, smaller milker market, breeder market, beef market and the show market. There is also a sixth market developing, the organic beef market. Each of the nineteen breeds of miniature cattle have applications to one or more of these various markets. There are basically four different ways to get started with miniature cattle. You can buy animals, purchase embryos, purchase surrogates or you can purchase miniature bull semen and start breeding down.
Because there are nineteen breeds of miniature cattle you have a rather wide choice. Some have been developed for the beef market while a few have been developed as small dairy breeds. Some are combination beef/dairy breeds. Here at the "Miniature Cattle Research Facility" we are developing seven new breeds of miniature cattle. They are the Kentshire®, KingshireTM, BarbeeTM, Black BaldieTM Miniature Cattle, Happy Mountain®, American BeltieTM (Mini Cookie) and CovingtonshiresTM.
Each of these breeds are being developed for one or more of the five basic markets. The Kentshire® for example, has applications to the pet market, beef, small milker, breeder and show market. The KingshireTM, CovingtonshiresTM, Black BaldieTM Miniature Cattle and Happy Mountain® are more beef animals with applications to the breeder, beef, pet and show markets. The American BeltieTM (Mini Cookie) has primary application to the small milker market but is also a combination dairy/beef and pet market animal. The BarbeeTM is a pet, milker, and beef animal. Each of these animals have characteristics which can fill the needs and desires of individual breeders. At this time there are so few of these animals that all have application to the breeder market.
Because there are so few animals cost is far above the general cattle market. There are just not enough animals to get to the point of using them for beef purposes. The pet, breeder and small milker markets are the stronger markets at this time. It is hoped that eventually there will be enough animals of specific breeds to allow pricing to be competitive in the specialty beef market and the new developing organically grown miniature beef cattle market.
A. Purchasing Animals:
If you are interested in getting started by purchasing animals you will need to call the Miniature Cattle Research Facility to find out about current breed availability and pricing. Generally animal pricing will range from $500.00 to $12,000.00. This will depend on the breed, sex, height, popularity and conformation of the animal. At this time the most popular is the Kentshire®, ranging in price from $2000.00 - $5000.00. Animals are weaned and deliverable at 4 months of age.
B. Purchasing Embryos:
Another way to get started is by purchasing embryos. The Research Facility has embryos available from several of the seven breeds under development and also from several other breeds. The key to this strategy is the implant success rate and the health, size, number and availability of surrogates. The size of the surrogate teat is very important. A large animal is just not suitable for the miniature calf and an animal with large teats is not suitable for a small calf with a small mouth. The teat must be close enough to the ground for the small calf to reach. A Dexter or a small Jersey would make a good surrogate.
C. Purchasing a Pregnant Surrogate:
A third way to get started with miniature cattle is to purchase a pregnant surrogate. We sometimes have these available. You would need to order ahead for this option. The initial costs is usually somewhere between the embryo and weaned calf options. Around $3500.00 - $6500.00 depending on the breed and the surrogate used. You could then sell the surrogate or use her again.
D. Using Semen on Standard Size Animals:
This is the least expensive of all the options but also takes the longest time. You might not start to see significant results until the third and fourth generations and then you're not really sure what you are going to get. Throwbacks to the original size can and do occur. You need to be quite familiar with linebreeding in your efforts to fix the genetics you're after.E. Transport:
Semen and embryos are easily shipped anywhere in the world in a nitrogen shipper tank. They must of course, have been collected per the protocol of the intended country which can vary widely from country to country. Within the United States miniature cattle animals can be shipped anywhere by air or by truck. Cattle hauler costs are usually not prohibitive. Shipping live animals by air can cost a little bit more. We have several haulers that can handle just about any requirement. Outside the U.S., with the exception of Mexico and Canada, air freight is the method of delivery. Most countries require quarantine of an animal for a period of time. This is an additional cost. Air freight costs can vary depending on the airline and the destination.
© 1997 RG