Miniature Herefords turn 20 in Australia
THIS year marks the 20th birthday of Miniature Herefords in Australia.
The breed has come a long way since it was first started in America by R. Rust Largent Junior, who bucked the US fad of breeding cattle with extreme frame scores.
Instead, he made the decision in 1970 to continue with the stocky, easy doing small Herefords.
In 1997, the first live shipment and frozen genetics of Miniature Herefords arrived in Australia.
Since that time, the breed has enjoyed a steady increase in numbers – with a recent boom as small acreage landholders look for an easily managed alternative to large cattle.
Miniature Herefords are full blood Herefords and are registered through Herefords Australia, but are sometimes less than 50 per cent the size of their brown and white cousins.
In a judging ring, the cattle are assessed for the same physical characteristics – good bone structure, depth, functionality, soundness and carcass quality – but must be frame score one or less at age three.
Of course, the most notable difference is that adult miniature cows cannot be taller than 119cm at the hip, and a bull not taller than 124cm.
“It has been a bumpy ride with growth in the early years followed by a plateau, and national herd reduction during the drought,” Australian Miniature Hereford Breeders Network (AMHBN) president, Julie Stott, said.
“But, numbers are rebuilding with a growing interest from peri-urban and small lot farmers, especially the baby boomer generation retiring onto acreage.
“Poll genetics are favoured by the small lot farmers for ease of management - we like to think of the cattle as Herefords with all the qualities of the regular cattle, they are just a miniature version.”
Ms Stott was one of the first to jump on board the Miniature Hereford train, importing frozen embryos in 1997.
Commercial animals, particularly steers, are generally sold for the same price, on a per kilo basis, as a large Hereford.
Weaning weights of steers is around 150kg.
AMHBN is a breeding network that wants to encourage as many new members as possible.
With around 300 registered stud cattle, most herds range in numbers up to 30 animals – but there is always room for more.
The AMHBN provides a comprehensive information pack on cattle management, and is happy to advise new owners on how to get the most from their Miniature Hereford.
For more information on Miniature Herefords, contact the AMHBN through their website, or by email at email@example.com.