So you have decided to buy some miniature cattle for your farm? What are your first steps?
1- Evaluate if you have the necessary requirements for keeping cattle
Cattle take time and money to keep on your farm. Halter training lasts as long as you practice the skill. Friendly calves become friendly steers/cows when you spend time with them.
- Cattle eat and drink a lot!! Ensure you have sufficient room (minimum 5 acres in good, productive country), and you will probably need to hand feed them(quality lucerne hay) in dry times and winter, depending on your rainfall.
- You will need yards, a race and a crush – yes even for your well trained pet steers – they need to be vaccinated and also held securely in case of any necessary vet visits that may occur.
- Ensure you have safe, strong fencing that will prevent your cattle getting onto roads etc
- Shelter (trees or hand made shelters) are important in summer and winter.
- Access to fresh, clean water is also important – either via troughs or dams
- Cattle need regular vaccinations and drenching – you can learn to do this, or employ a farm veterinarian to visit annually.
2- Decide on the breed you want
- You might like to read our previous blog on different types of miniature breeds available.
- Think about their suitability for your requirements – short/long haired, tick resistant, pet/beef productivity
- Perhaps visit an agricultural show to see the cattle and speak to breeders
3- Locate a reputable breeder
Contact the relevant association and look for breeders in your state. Other breeders may also be found on FB. Breeders that have a webpage are valuable, as you are less likely to be deceived or “scammed”..
Once you locate a breeder, decide if they have the experience you need, are happy to answer questions, for example, do they vaccinate, halter train their cattle, what age do they wean etc.
There may be a waiting list, or perhaps you have secured your calf and are just waiting until it can be weaned from its mother. It is a very important time for calves to spend 5-6 months with their mother and siblings. The joy they have playing chasings, hide and seek and snuggling up to their mothers, is something very special. At Sentinel Park we love the bond that the highlands have with their babies, and we leave them to enjoy being carefree and spoilt during this bonding time. It makes for a well socialised animal when they finally come to your place.
While waiting – you can get the water supply and shade sorted, remove weeds from the paddock, ensure the fences and yards are secure – so everything will be perfect for when they first arrive home.