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The Worlds Only Herd of
Belted Miniature Panda® Cattle
A Symbol of Hope and Peace
By Professor Richard Gradwohl
THE FIRST BIRTH:
There is only one place you can come and see cattle that have a panda-like look. That place is Happy Mountain® Miniature Cattle Farm, Covington, Washington USA. It all started about two years ago on a clear crisp spring morning. We had been expecting the birth of one of our very first miniature calf heifers. This little gal was very small so we had been watching her rather closely. We have not had any birthing problems with our miniature cattle but because of her extra small size it just seemed like a good idea to keep a close eye. On April 27, 2000 my wife Arlene had gone to the barn to check on little Sara and came running back to the house. Sitting at the kitchen table I was completely surprised by her expression. She said "Guess what, Sara had her baby, and guess what, it has a full white belt around the middle, and guess what, it has a white face with black around both eyes, and guess what - it looks just like a Panda and the last guess what, it is a heifer". Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!! was my response. We both ran out the front door and sprinted to the barn. There she was, the cutest little thing I had ever seen and Mom Sara was licking her clean. A little heifer calf that has a panda-like appearence. I said "she is just Precious". That comment seemed to stick so we named her Precious and she really is.
FIVE MORE MINIATURE Panda® CATTLE:
Precious is now almost 18 months old and getting close to breeding time. With our small miniatures we sometimes wait until they are 24 months before breeding. But at this point we have a small problem. Since the birth of Precious we have had a total of five additional births of Miniature Panda® Cattle calves. All from different mothers using the same bull. But, can you believe that every Miniature Panda® Cattle born here at Happy Mountain® Miniature Cattle Farm has been a female, six in a row. Now the odds of that happening are very small. I wish I could say it was the bulls fault but we have used him in other breeding programs and he has produced males with no problem. I'm wondering if the belt together with the panda-like face is somehow related to a female characteristic. Nah, I doubt it. Why we are getting all females I just don't know. There is one more birth to take place this year. If it is a male it will be nice to have six half sisters to breed him to. Do we have our fingers crossed? You bet. If everyone reading this article would also cross their fingers it might help.
TWO FOUNDATION BULLS:
We do have one more option, however. The bull we are using has a half brother. Both are the result of several generations of breedings to get the belt coming through and to reduce height. The daddy to all six heifers is a bull named Rebel. He has a full belt, is only 36" in height at four years and is long, low and beefy. Rebel is an outstanding specimen to admire. His half brother, Fireball, is only 32" in height and has a partial belt on both sides. From a genetic point of view if the gene for the belt is there it is there. You can't control the quality of the belt. A partially belted animal is just as likely to produce an offspring with a full belt as a full belted sire might. So the next step in this process of Belted Miniature Panda® Cattle building will be to use Fireball as a sire. His problem is, darn it, he doesn't have the panda-like face so we don't know if these markings will come through from the female side when he is used as the sire. The best alternative would be to wait for the last calf to be born and hope it is a little bull with the same markings as Precious. Keep your fingers on both hands crossed.
A GIFT TO THE WORLD:
These animals are very special and absolutely gorgeous. What a gift they are to the world. We call them the "symbol of hope and peace". I doubt there could be other cattle with these markings but if there are you couldn't find six of them in one place and miniatures to boot. These six are truly the worlds only herd of Belted Miniature Panda® Cattle. Want to see them? We give tours to potential buyers. No, we can't keep them all and there will be more born next year. Some will be for sale. Maybe next year will be the year of the bull calves? Wouldn't that be something. You're welcome to call and find out if that last 2001 birth was the little bull calf we have been hoping for. Phone - (253) 631-1911
THREE WEEKS LATER:
Miracle of miracles. Would you believe so many people had their fingers crossed that it worked. But, but, but it worked double. Twin Miniature Panda® Cattle bull calves were born October 24, 2001. Both are very small. One little guy is non-belted all black with a perfect panda-like face. The other little fellow must have gotten a double dose for the belt. He has a very wide white belt with a beautiful panda-like face. Both are doing just fine and mom has enough milk for both of them. Their names are Joshua and Justin. Josh has the belt and Justin is the non-belt. It's just a coincidence but my son has two boys and they are also named Joshua and Justin. Sure is funny how names seem to travel. It's a miracle and we are now in a position to breed all six Belted Miniature Panda® Cattle heifers to their double-belted half brother. A big thanks to everyone that had their fingers crossed hoping that this is what we would get.