Miniature cows are cute, but they’re also good for farmers or homesteaders who want to raise cows for fun rather than solely as a moneymaking venture.
You won’t get as much beef or milk raising mini cows, but they’re much more manageable on smaller properties. You don’t need a lot of acreage, and you’ll spend much less on long-term maintenance.
They’re also great for kids! Miniature cows are the way to go if you’re trying to teach your children how to handle cattle.
A mini cow can produce enough milk or beef for around six people, so a single mini is often perfect for a family, especially if they prefer cow’s milk to goat’s milk.
Here are some of the most popular miniature cow breeds, along with some interesting info to help you learn more about them, and help you make the best decision if you ever decide to buy one.
What Breed of Cow Stays Small?
Miniature cows are bred down to size. It takes several generations, but successful breeders create mini versions of popular cows, the same as dog breeders make mini, toy, and teacup dogs.
A normal miniature cow is anything shorter than 48 inches by the time they turn three years old.
They only need a couple of acres of grazing land because they don’t eat as much as a regular cow.
Mini cows are like having massive dogs on your property. Smart mini breeds can learn their names and come when you call them.
They bond quickly with humans who care for them, and it’s a fantastic experience raising mini cows as a family.
The only drawback to mini cows is that they don’t work economically at scale. They don’t produce enough meat or milk to make raising miniatures worth it.
However, most people who tend miniature cow breeds aren’t doing it just for the money.
What Is the Smallest Miniature Cow Breed?
It’s hard to say which miniature breed is the smallest. Breeders are constantly producing smaller cows and bulls every year. Now you can get mini cows that look like sheep from a distance!
They’re a breed from Kerala, India, and they’re prized for producing good milk that’s rich in minerals.
They also don’t require a ton of feed to produce good milk levels, making them a sound investment in poor or rural areas. They average just 43 inches tall for bulls and 38.5 inches tall for cows.
Different Miniature Cow Breeds
You may not want to import a mini Kasaragod cow from India, but you do have viable options here in the United States.
There are several breeds of miniature cows that you and your family will love having on the farm or homestead. Here are some of the most popular miniature cow breeds in North America.
1. Dexter Mini Cows
Dexters are some of the best mini cows and look adorable, which is why they’re so popular across the States. In addition, they’re smart, so they learn behaviors and act like family pets.
These cows are great for beef and milk and have excellent marbling in the meat.
They’re terrific foragers, too, so you won’t have to constantly worry about whether they’re getting enough food.
Mini Dexter meat is in high demand at restaurants right now because it has a very pleasant texture and tastes delicious.
However, it costs a lot because there’s so much less of it compared to a full-sized cow.
People who want them as a milk cow can expect to get around 1.5 to 3 gallons each day, which is perfect for a small family.
2. Miniature Zebus
Miniature Zebus are one of the few natural miniature cow breeds. They have over 6,000 years of documented history in Africa and Asia.
If you drive around rural Thailand or India, you’ll see Zebus walking around foraging or tied to a post somewhere.
Mini Zebus look a lot like Brahman cows, but their ears stand up straight and they have smaller humps.
People love having mini Zebus because they are disease-resistant and can survive well in different climates. They’re also calm, smart cows that don’t make a lot of noise.
3. Mini Hereford Cows
Mini Herefords are a terrific choice for people who want to farm mini cows because they mature much faster than most other breeds. In addition, these beautiful animals are docile and make ideal pets.
They are small but also smart, so they’ll fit right in with your other farm animals.
Mini Herefords are another good foraging breed and do well in all climates. You’ll find these in increasing numbers across the country.
One bonus of raising Herefords for meat is they require less feed to get the same mass of meat as other cow breeds.
4. Mini Jersey Cows
Decades ago, the Jersey cattle breed wasn’t considered a mini breed.
However, farmers have consistently bred other cattle breeds to be bigger and produce more meat, so these guys have shrunk in comparison to newer cattle farming size standards.
As mini cows became more popular, farmers found it easy to breed Jerseys down to mini size.
Miniature Jersey cows produce high-fat milk that is great for cooking and making other dairy products.
They’re one of the best family cows you can buy anywhere. Kids love these little cows because they’re fun and gentle.
Some people even keep them inside while they’re calves! They’re typically quite clean and don’t shed a lot of fur.
5. Lowline Cows
If you want Angus-quality meat but don’t have the space, Lowline cows are a great choice! This breed originally came from Australia, but you’ll see them all over the U.S. today.
Breeders keep making them smaller by only mating the most miniature bulls with the smallest heifers.
Lowlines are similar to Angus cows but can be up to 60 percent smaller than standard size cows.
They have very gentle personalities and make great pets if you’re not interested in farming them.
6. Miniature Texas Longhorns
Believe it or not, you can even buy miniature Texas Longhorns.
They look just like the big longhorn breed, only smaller. They still have sharp horns and distinct coat patterns of white and brown.
Usually, mini Texas Longhorns are bred as pets on farms and homesteads in the U.S. They’re a fun statement animal that people love to show off to friends and family.
Mini Longhorns are also popular show animals.
7. Scottish Highland Cows
Scottish Highland cows hail from Scotland, but they’re popular in the U.S. at petting zoos and small farms.
People love the way they look with the shaggy fur that droops down from their horns to cover their eyes.
It’s a robust breed with a thick coat, so keeping them in hotter climates is probably not the best idea. But they’ll love living on a cool farm with plenty of grass to eat.
They’re used for both dairy and meat production.
The Benefits of Raising Mini Cows
It seems like mini cows become more popular every year. Many people want to raise cows at home, but they’re worried about what they’ll do with them when they mature.
It takes a lot of land to raise large livestock, and not everyone has the acreage to let average-sized cows graze freely.
You can learn the ropes working with a smaller, gentler mini cow that still gives you a good amount of milk daily.
The whole family can get involved without too much concern about personal safety.
While they’re still heavy animals, you don’t have to worry as much about them stepping on your toes or breaking parts of your fence.
If you’re interested in buying or adopting a mini cow, check with your local livestock dealers or look online for farms that specialize in breeding and selling them.
Keeping Mini Cows as Pets
Caring for a mini cow isn’t the same as a dog or cat. You can’t housetrain a cow, so you can’t keep them in the house.
Eventually, they’ll need to live outside in an enclosure where they can go to the bathroom, eat, and roam freely.
Cows, however, are surprisingly clean animals compared to other farm animals.
They are also safer than keeping a donkey or horse. It’s very rare for mini cows to act aggressively, and they rarely damage pastures.
Many people who raise mini cows with their children say it is an incredibly rewarding experience.
You can use the cow to teach kids about where milk and meat come from, how to care for something more complex than a dog, and what basic needs animals have.
Your friends and family will also beg to come over and see and pet your mini cow, so prepare for the attention you’ll get!
The good news is that most mini cows enjoy human engagement, so they’re usually up for petting and playtime.
Hopefully, this list will help you choose the best mini cow breed for your farm. Have fun and enjoy the process of caring for these beautiful animals!