How did we end up with Miniature Herefords, well it is a rather funny story indeed. We were heading into semi-retirement with a bush block to develop and an idea to get cattle in due course, Charolais, beautiful but big cattle. While sitting in an apartment in Sydney we started playing with names for the farm and ended up combining our first names (Sandra and Adrian) to form Sandrian Park.
Preparing for the move to Gatton in SE Qld where Adrian already owned the bush block, we bought a house and got offered 3 small Herefords as part of the sale. One look at their cute furry little faces and we were hooked and just like that we fell into what is proving to be a real passion.
The more we read and learn about this wonderful breed of cattle the more we fall in love with them. While they are call Miniature, they are in fact the original size of the breed from England and it is these smaller cattle that were bred bigger to give us the larger version more commonly seen around Australia and the USA.
Shortly after moving to Gatton we purchased four more girls and some Semen straws via a breeder in WA and started on our Artificial Insemination (AI) journey. As a city girl who had never been so up close and personal with animals before, there was a heck of a learning curve (around cycling and bulling, giving injections, race and crush training and assisting our vet with the business end of the process and later the preg testing). We got two hits from the AI and then right on cue a beautiful bull came up for sale not that far from us and Lyndon Lodge Harrison joined the family.
While we were having a wonderful time getting to know our cows and planning for our future with them, the country is in a terrible drought and we spent many hours searching for good quality hay, that doesn’t require trucking great distances and then hand feeding the animals. Food became more and more scarce and expensive and the summer rain failed for a second year. We were fortunate that our animal numbers were low and they were doing really well with the harsh conditions, but with feed prices rising all the time we had to make the hard decision to sell two of our older girls (the ones that came with our new house). We also made the hard decision to send one of our girls who was very reproductively challenged, (ovarian cysts meant she would never get in calf), to Brisbane Valley Meat works. She was not suitable to sell as a pet or a breeder but she did go on to fill the freezer of four families. Mini Herefords have a very good bone to meat ratio and have one of the highest meat yields for their size of any cattle.
The meat has been amazing and it is nice to be able to put a full of flavour T-bone on a plate and still have room for the vegetables. Miniature cattle are perfect for a small acreage as they are easy on the ground and fences and require less feed than their larger counterparts. They make great pets or freezer fillers but you do have to be prepared to buy in feed and have a good supply of water if you take on a cow. You should also try and have two as they are a herd animal and don’t like being on their own.
Our first calf was born in September 2019 (our first AI baby), and a beautiful bull calf. It was another three months before our second AI baby arrived and we got lucky with a second bull calf. These boys have different American fathers and bring some exciting genetic diversity to our future herd. It was nine months and 3 weeks after Harrison had arrived on the farm that his first baby arrived and I was privileged enough to be there for the whole process. It was just a beautiful experience to see the birth of our first heifer calf and one I will never forget. Just two weeks later a second heifer calf was born and our first year of calving was done.
Baby cows are hilarious, they are very lively and just as naughty as any child. They love to run and chase each other and tend to do so with their tail held high in the air. With the Herefords having a bright white tip to the end of their tail it makes it all very amusing and reminiscent of dodgem cars.
We were also fortunate to finally get some good summer rain and at last the grass grew. Heading into our third year with four cows in calf to Harrison, two beautiful upcoming bulls and two heifer calves we are feeling pretty good.
The bush block is coming along, plenty of Lantana still to clear and fencing to be done but the future is looking bright. We love our cattle, they really are part of the family, and the pure breed herd is set up nicely.
Our hope is to be able to supply animals to small holders as there is no surer way of knowing that you are eating grass fed beef that had a great life than having it grow up in your own back yard. A mobile butcher can ensure that your cow suffers no stress right up to the last minute. Equally they make a great pet, and if you think that might prove to be expensive just price up feed for a large dog and you might find they are quite economical.
Having a group like the Miniature Hereford Breeders Network on hand to offer advice and answer questions is a great support as is having a great vet as part of the team. Check out the AMHBN website and follow Sandrian Park on Facebook or Instagram if you want to be spammed with pictures of cute cows.
Not everyone wants big cattle and lots of people don’t have the room anyway. If you’ve got 5, 10, 20 or even 100 acres and you run the big Hereford you could find yourself supplementary feeding some if not all the year round. You could develop new relations with your neighbors as hungry cattle push on fencing and ultimately bust through. When it rains chances are your ground will get all pugged up and take a lot to repair. So, if you have a few acres, would like the pleasure of owning a couple of beautiful brown and white cows, maybe breeding some calves, I suggest you look at Miniature Herefords.
The modern day Miniature Hereford has been around since the 1960’s and a family in America bucked the trend of ‘’bigger has to be better’’ and selectively bred from the smallest Herefords they had. News of these little guys spread slowly around the world and Australia has a steadily growing group of dedicated people who are busily breeding robust, quiet, user friendly small cattle for others like ourselves. People with a few acres, possibly not much experience, basic facilities, and generally children or grandchildren who just love the idea of a pet in the paddock. Some of them are tired of mowing the ever-growing grass and want a couple of lawn mowers, others want to have their own homegrown beef. Miniature Herefords deliver on both counts and if you want to see baby calves frolicking in the sunshine then Minis can deliver that too.
Today’s mini is about half the size of the modern Hereford and are easily quietened and handled. Breeders pay a lot of attention to temperament as a placid mini is an absolute pleasure and ensures the enjoyment of the owners. To the uninitiated they won’t look any different from their big cousins and it won’t be until someone stands beside them that you realise they only come to about your hip. Mature Mini’s weigh about 300 – 400kg and are only classed as miniature by measurement at the age of 2. They are in the same herd book as the bigger cattle – they are just short in the leg and smaller in their frame which in a big animal is actually just a wasted resource anyway as all the meat is in the body. Our home butcher is very impressed with our minis and how they stack up. Not much waste and the best beef money could buy.
The Australian Miniature Hereford Breeders Network (AMHBN) is the perfect place to start if you’re interested in Miniature Herefords. An enquiry email will get sent to all the members and we’ll get in touch, keen to help, and to share what we know.
Check here for details of what Winswood Miniature Herefords have for sale https://winswoodminis.wordpress.com/for-sale/