Minia­ture Here­fords turn 20 in Aus­tralia

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - MINIATURE HEREFORDS -

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 amh­net­work@gmail.com.

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