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Miniature Herefords are compact cows that provide big benefits
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Miniature Herefords are compact cows that provide big benefits

CHARLOTTESVILLE—They may be half the size of standard cattle, but miniature Herefords have a lot to offer farmers and they’re growing in popularity.

With heart-warming videos that showcase pint-sized bovines grazing in fields circulating on social media, it’s no wonder mini cattle are trending. And some breeds, like the docile miniature Hereford, are among the most popular.

“They’re a great fit for (smaller farms) because their grazing requirements are far less than full-size cattle,” explained Richard Fox, who operates Roslyn Farm & Vineyard in Albemarle County with his wife. “They also reduce the barrier of entry for families that want to raise cattle but, for various reasons, full-size cattle wouldn’t be the right fit.”

Fox, an Albemarle County Farm Bureau member, currently has six miniature Herefords as part of the farm’s agritourism activities. He explained that a full-size cow needs 2 to 3 acres of productive pasture, whereas a single acre can support two miniature cattle.

According to the Miniature Hereford Breeders Association, there are over 500 miniature Hereford breeders in the U.S who are registered with the association. The small cattle weigh 500 to 1,000 pounds compared to a full-size Hereford’s 1,200 to 1,800 pounds, and their gentle disposition makes them well-suited for agritourism and youth 4-H and FFA projects.

“The miniature Herefords are the perfect introduction into the show ring for many young, aspiring showmen,” Fox added.

In addition to agritourism and youth competitions, Debbie and Tim Bryan of Bryan Hill Farm in Rockingham County noted that miniature Herefords are “a viable beef product.”

“They’re very healthy, very low-maintenance,” Tim said.

The Bryans began raising miniature Herefords over 20 years ago when looking for smaller animals for their children’s livestock projects. With the beef product just as tasty and high-quality as full-size Herefords, they realized the smaller cows work well for families with limited acreage. They also require less fencing and feed—eating 30%-40% less than their larger counterparts.

“You can put one of these in the freezer and feed your family as opposed to having to split a full-size cow with someone,” said Debbie, whose customers across the East Coast purchase the couple’s cows.

In Goochland County, Mark Smith of Markley Farms maintains a herd of 20 to 30 miniature Herefords he sells for breeding, as family pets, and for beef. He said raising the animals has been “a fun experience.

“The minis range in size, with the smallest heifers being the most desirable for pets,” Smith said. “Everyone wants the polled mini Hereford heifers. I could put them out on social media and probably sell every one.”

Media: Contact Fox at 434-960-4625, Bryan at 540-896-5755 or Smith at 804-400-8398.

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