Remember that time when micro pigs were all the rage and made everyone go ooh and aah? Well, now seems to be the time of micro cows and the adorable tiny cattle are proving wonderful pets. There are very few micro-cattle breeders around the world. and Dustin Pillard, who has been breeding them on his farm in Iowa, is probably the most well-known. He has been featured in newspapers and TV news specials numerous times since he began breeding micro cattle in 1995, but his miniature cows are now the smallest they’ve ever been.
Dustin Pillard, a 46-year-old father of three, grew up in the city but regularly spent time on his grandparents’ farm near Cedar Rapids. In 1992, while in college, he attended a cattle auction where he saw micro-cows for the first time. He was fascinated with them, so three years later, when he became the owner of a 10-acre ranch, he knew he had to populate it with the tiny creatures.He bought five animals and started what is known today as the Oxen Ridge Miniature Cattle farm.
Photo: YouTube screengrab
Through selective breeding, Pillard is producing cows and bulls whose average height is about 33 inches (84cm). They come in various colors, featuring representatives of Texas Longhorns, Texas Shorthorns, Jerseys, Dexters, Herefords, Angus, Zebus, and Watusis. The farmer sells 10 to 20 animals a year, mostly to North Americans who raise them as pets, but now buyers from Europe, Mexico and Argentina have started showing interest.
According to Pillard, the tiny cattle very much resemble dogs in temperament: “Many of them have personalities like a dog. They love treats and enjoy being outside. They run around like a dog, they like people and are calm and sociable. They also love attention.”
Selective breeding has been known to result in health issues, as is the case with some dog and cat breeds, but Pillard claims that the miniature cows and bulls that come out of this ranch are perfectly healthy.
The family love their herd and have a specific goal in mind.
“Our goal is to have a nice herd of 25 to 30 animals that are all under 36 inches and all less than 500 pounds [227kg] – and lots of color,” Pillard says.
Asked what will happen if people lose interest in his micro-cows, Pillard had this to say: “I like them. If nobody else does, that doesn’t really bother me. We’re breeding just for the novelty end of it, for a small pet-type … for somebody who has a few acres out there and wants something different out there besides sheep.”
If you suddenly feel the urge to furnish your yard with teensy cattle, make sure you have at least some $1,000 to spend – that’s the starting price for a bull calf. It may be harder to get a cow because Pillard keeps most of them to grow the herd.
If you think these little guys are cute, you should probably check out the show calves of Lautner Farm as well. Their fluffy cattle are known as the “models of the bovine world”.