It appears that the old adage “everything old is new again” has become, or is on its way to becoming true, even in the cattle industry. This is becoming evident as the popularity of miniature cattle grows. Are miniature cattle new? Well, yes and no. Confused? Hang in there and see if I can explain.
Years ago, back to at least the 1930’s and 1940’s or even further, cattle confirmation or what the perfect animal is supposed to look like, was quite different than today. Back then, the confirmation of a perfect Hereford was a cow or bull that was compact, short, deep bodied and wide and is low-set, meaning that they were naturally small. This type of “perfect” cow or bull began to change in the 1960’s when the meat-packing industry changed its take on what the confirmation of ideal packing animal was. The outcome has evolved into the cattle that are commonly seen today. They are a lot taller, usually narrower and just bigger all together. This change was the outcome of the demand of consumers who bought leaner beef, less marbling became the choice of the day and the cattle industry had to change to meet these demands.
Today things are changing again. Some cattle producers have taken a step backward in order to continue forward. Their thinking is why can’t those bulls and cows from yesteryear be raised so that they can produce leaner offspring on a smaller frame. After all, the consumer is not interested in the size of the frame, which is pretty much the skeleton or bones of the animal, but the meat that is carried on the frame. They concluded that if this was possible, they could consequently raise more cow/calf pairs per acre and this smaller cattle would be cheaper to raise as well. Sounds good, huh?
You bet it does and it is being accomplished everyday, all over America. Today there are miniature cattle herds popping up everywhere. These herds are producing calves that are more beef per pound, 65% beef to bone ratio is average for a miniature calf where standard calves are usually about 50% beef to bone ratio. These miniature cows, calves and bulls also eat half as much feed, when they are fed, this is another good thing about them, they are also easy keepers, meaning they can survive on pretty much grass alone.
So you see, it appears that the cattle industry is beginning to live up to ” everything old is new again” as these miniature cattle herds become more and more popular. Which for the cattle producer can be very exciting due to the money savings combined with the profits that seem to be right there for the taking.