We moved to our 60 acre property in 2003 from 14 acres, so more cows were on the agenda.
Initially we ran agistment cows to help pay the bills. We also bought cattle as weaners, kept them for 12 months and then sold, mostly doubling our money, happy days. The focus was always Friesian Hereford cross. We brought three cows to our 60 acres with us. Those girls got lucky and become our first breeding cows and not steak. Then the search was on for a bull, we found a Hereford Angus cross bull cheap. We called him Collingwood, poor fella, so the cycle began. To grow the herd faster, we brought a jersey house cow and milked her to bucket raise some Friesian Hereford cross calves for breeding. After a few years the bull was changed for a purebred Hereford. Phil always liked red and white cows, a paddock full of red and white Herefords is a great sight. Numbers got to fifteen breeding cows on our 60 acres plus growing our own hay and half an acre of spuds each year.
Our local school at Yolla, where our children attend is a farm school. We were asked if our children would be interested in sheep handling/showing. Phil’s reaction was I love lamb (with mint sauce). All three children started sheep handling. In September 2015 Phil attended a stock handling camp at the Jordan River School farm with our children and others from Yolla to learn some tricks of the trade for showing sheep. Jordan River were running a herd of Miniature Herefords, oh boy these guys are cool. The research started, why Miniature Herefords? Why Not! Succulent short muscle, family size cuts of meat, lighter footprint, quiet nature, eat less, run more numbers and purebred red and white cattle. These little guys could really suit our farm!
December 2015 Elsie and Faith, in calf with calves at foot, arrived on our farm. Purchased from Jordan River School. Elsie and Faith were nine and ten years old, so getting on but good foundation stock we hoped.
Show season of 2016 we had our two heifer calves Lettie and Linda to show, our eldest son took on showing Lettie while we had great help from a student at Yolla to show Linda. We felt the wry eye of the big cattle breeders, but Miniature Herefords are purebred cattle just like theirs. At our local shows in NW Tasmania we had no competition, so won plenty of ribbons in our own classes, but we also had some third and fourth places in junior pairs and interbreed which were fantastic results competing against our big cousins of all breeds. Brighton Show in the south was where we would have competition from Jordon River minis. A four hour truck ride for the girls with sheep for company. We lined up against eleven other minis and Lettie won the class and Linda was fourth. We were over the moon, our foundation stock was solid.
In July 2016 Faith gave birth to a bull calf. Born in the snow! Maverick, a bull, not really what we wanted as we needed heifers to grow our numbers. Oh well, we shall grow a bull. Phil broke him in, and our children showed him. Maverick was sold in May 2019 to a new stud and we currently have another bull Parker for sale. All three of our children have now shown and continue to show our minis.
2019 saw the first three steers processed to market, well one to market with some normal sized steers and two into our freezer. The three minis were almost two years old when processed and dressed out to an average of 200kg not to far behind their “normal’ sized cousins. We are aiming to grow our minis to a live weight of 350kg which equates to a dressed weight of around 180kg which also shows benefit of the breed with very good meat conversion.
Fast forward to 2020 and our herd has grown via breeding and a few purchases along the way to fourteen breeding cows, and our bull Kingston. Our numbers will grow over the next few years and our commitment to the breed will continue. We have found that the smaller cattle on our farm has a real benefit, with our annual rainfall around 14-1800mm, the paddocks do become pretty wet during the winter months. We have noticed since the change to minis that the ground recovers faster after grazing and the mud level is considerably less.
We are active members of the Australian Miniature Hereford Breeders Network and have been for four years. AMHBN have proved to be a great source of information and with regular chat sessions, it is a great source of help and advice from like minded people from all over Australia. We highly recommend the AMHBN website as a first port of call for any information about Miniature Herefords.