Minis 101: Selecting Your First Purchase
There are many variables to consider when you consider purchasing your first Miniature Hereford. First, you need to decide for what purpose you wish to raise Minis. Secondly, you need to determine the size and quality needed for that purpose. Then you will spend many hours researching various options for acquiring the type of animal you’ve selected, and finally you’ll realize your dream by hauling that special animal or group of animals home.
So why do you want to raise Miniature Herefords? For the kids? Grandkids? For cute lawnmowers in that enormous back yard you’re sick of mowing and fertilizing every summer? What about agricultural tax breaks in your area? Do you want the option of healthy beef for your family? Or maybe you want to shoot for that coveted Grand Champion buckle? Answering these questions will help determine what type of Miniature Hereford would best suit your needs.
If you’re looking for an animal that will do well with youngsters, you might want to consider one that is already halterbroken, and is known to be gentle around children. In this instance, and finances aside, the smallest animal you can find who still meets the temperament requirements would be your best choice, for the sake of safety. Depending on whether or not you wish to encourage your kids to show in 4H, FFA or in the Open shows you might consider leaning toward a show-quality purchase versus pet-quality.
However, if you’re merely looking for a lawncare replacement, size is most likely not your primary concern; you would research calving ease of the animals and units-per-acre in your area to determine the number of head needed to properly mow and fertilize your property with as little intervention as possible.
Agricultural tax breaks are a common reason for investing in Miniature Herefords. In some areas of the country, the cost of purchasing the cattle is more than repaid within a few short years. These laws vary from state to state and county to county so be sure to check the regulations for your area.
Another common reason to invest in Miniature Herefords is for the beef. Miniature cattle do not fit the model for today’s beef production system, so do not expect to sell your cattle the normal way for any profit. Instead, you have the option of raising organic, grass-fed or natural beef for your family, friends or community members. The simplest method would be to raise beef for your family alone. Have it processed locally or process it yourself and you can provide for your family great-tasting beef that is far superior to even the highest grade grocery store beef. If you choose to label your beef and sell it, be sure to study the rules and regulations regarding the sale of meats, and the special labeling required.
If you wish to raise Miniature Herefords specifically for the show ring, be sure to obtain the best that money can buy and care for them extra specially well. Of course, we can’t all purchase last year’s grand champion in the hopes she’ll win again this year! So purchase the best animal you can find, remembering that price doesn’t always indicate quality. A well conditioned animal, exquisitely fitted and properly shown will still provide an excellent chance at that banner or buckle, and at the very least you’ll have lots of fun in the process.
Once you’ve determined what your purpose is, or which combination of goals you wish to pursue in the Miniature Hereford adventure, you’ll be able to rule out types of animals that are less likely to suit your agenda. The smaller the frame score (size) of the animal, or the more 0’s they’re said to have, the more expensive they will be. This is because 0000 is the smallest anyone has in any quantity. Try looking for a 00000 animal and you’re going to be searching for a while. You’d better be prepared to write a lot of 0’s on that check if you choose to purchase that animal, if you find him. On the other hand, there are many mid-sized Minis in the frame score 0 to 1 range and you’ll have a far wider selection of type and quality. What size and quality you eventually choose is up to you, your goals, your pocket book, and what is available when you’re ready to buy.
So you’ve now decided on the type of animal that will best suit your needs. How far are you willing to to travel to find this animal? Begin by locating breeders in your area, and if possible, go to see their breeding program in operation. Expand your search as necessary. Whatever you do, be sure you’re working with a reputable breeder when you finally choose to purchase. Common pitfalls are paying show-quality price for a pet-quality animal (so study up on your conformation points, visit shows and don’t hesitate to quiz breeders or your Regional Director) or paying top dollar for a small framed animal only to discover she’s not genetically small framed and won’t produce in kind (so study up on those pedigrees, sire/dam frame scores, and obtain references on prospective breeder-sellers). The more you’ve studied, the better your chances of arriving home with your dream cow.
Remember while shopping that somehow you’ll have to cart your acquisition home. If you have a trailer, no worries. If you don’t, ask the seller if they’ll deliver. And if they can’t or won’t, call your Regional Director to find out if there are any breeders currently hauling who might be able to help you out. Definitely solve the transportation logistics before handing over that down payment.
Whatever your path to first-time ownership, there is nothing quite like opening your trailer door and watching your new red white-face hop out of the trailer and trot down the fence line examining her new surroundings.
Welcome to the world of Miniature Herefords!