Are you yearning to own a family cow but don’t have enough grazing acreage? Raising a mini-cow might be an excellent option! Miniature cattle breeds offer all the benefits of regular cattle but require a fraction of the pastureland to live on and thrive.
But which breed of mini-cow is best for your homestead? If you want milk, butter, cheese, meat, and a cute addition to your petting paddock, you can choose from over two dozen registered mini cattle breeds!
With such a broad selection, a reliable mini cow breeds guide is essential to ensure you make the best choice for your little patch of paradise.
Welcome to our definitive guide to the best mini-cow breeds for your homestead!
Let’s get moo-ving!
|Mini Cow Breed
|Mini Jersey Cow
|Delicious dairy – milk, cheese, cream, et cetera
|Mini Hereford Cow
|Beef, weed management, and as a pet
|Mini Dexter Cows
|Excellent dairy – with high butterfat content
|Mini Highland Cow
|Ornamental use, as a pet, and sometimes beef
|Zebu Mini Cow
|Butterfat-rich milk, and as a pet
|Mini Angus Cow
|Delicious marbled beef, and as a pet
|Mini Holstein Cow
|World-famous dairy, and as a pet
|Mini Panda Cow
|Perfect for petting, and as an investment
|Mini Highpark Cow
|Mini Fluffy Cow
|Adorable pets, animal assitant therapy (AAT)
|Teacup Mini Cow
|Grass management, and as a pet
|Mini Brahman Cow
|Mostly for exhibition and as a pet
We’ll also discuss these majestic micro mini cow breeds in further detail.
- Mini Cow Breeds Guide
- 12 Best Mini Cow Breeds – Our Official List
Mini Cow Breeds Guide
Our guide to mini cows includes 13 breeds with benefits for small homesteads, including the following.
- Dairy products
- Ease of handling
- Low feed costs
- Low maintenance
- Low environmental impact
- Grass cutting
- Rodeo and 4-H
- Breeding stock
- Premium sale value
With purebred and crossbreed mini cows, getting the dope on a mini cow breed suitable for your needs is tricky. (It’s more confusing than most new ranchers, homesteaders, and farmers think.)
Breeding miniature cattle involves selective breeding, pure and mixed genetic strains, DNA testing, bloodline registries, and other vital considerations that can prove daunting for most homesteaders.
This guide simplifies the complex domain of miniature cattle breeds by focusing on the most popular homesteading mini cow breeds, their features and benefits, and what unique gifts they bring to the party!
But first, let’s take a quick look at the official mini-cow specifications!
What Size Is a Mini-Cow?
Miniature cattle fall into three categories based on hip height at three years of age.
- Full-sized miniature cattle range from 36” to 42” in height.
- Mid-size mini cattle range from 42” to 48”.
- Micro-mini cows are 36” or less.
- Mini cattle can weigh up to 50% less than their regular-size counterparts.
The height measurements of miniature cattle are taken at the ‘hooks’ (aka hips) at the base of the tailbone.
Miniature cattle breeds include cows and bulls and are available as purebreds or crossbreeds.
The gestation period for miniature cattle is nine months (283 days).
The miniature cattle breeding industry gets adjudicated by international and regional associations.
- Most miniature cattle breeds have a dedicated Breeder’s Association.
- Bovine regulatory bodies conduct DNA/genomic testing (BBR – or Breed Base Representation tests) to determine the genetic purity of miniature cattle.
Note – Not all mature cattle under 48” are classified as bona fide miniatures. Bulldog dwarfism (a strain of Chondrodysplasia) in some regular and miniature cattle breeds is a genetic mutation that can be fatal in affected young adult cows and bulls.
Remember – To safeguard against buying a mini cow with a genetic abnormality, buy registered miniature cattle with a BBR certificate of health and bloodline purity.
How Much Acreage Does a Mini Cow Need?
A single mini cow can graze on pastureland as small as half an acre. Mini cattle are herd animals. So – at least two mini cows on one acre or more usually works best. Mini cattle are happier on small acreages than on extensive pastures where they may need to compete with larger animals.
Do Mini Cows Have Horns?
12 Best Mini Cow Breeds – Our Official List
Now for the low down on 13 homestead-friendly mini-cow breeds!
1. Mini Jersey Cow
|The Jersey Island in the English Channel.
|Full Miniature Jerseys reach 42” at the hip. Mid-Mini Jerseys stand 42” to 46” at the hip.
|Miniature Jersey cows weigh between 600 pounds and 800 pounds. Mini Jersey bulls can weigh up to 1,000 pounds.
|Dairy! Miniature Jerseys produce 4 to 6 gallons of A-2 milk daily. A regular Jersey makes around 5 to 6 gallons per day. Mini Jersey milk has a high butterfat content – perfect for making rich, creamy cheeses and butter! Other uses include petting, grass cutting, and teaching children how to milk a cow.
|American Miniature Jersey Association and Registry. See here.
|Miniature Jersey cattle are highly adaptable to different climates, from snowy winters to hot summers, making them a favorite dairy cow worldwide. Mini Jersey cows mature early with high fertility, and they calve easily. A lovely, feminine breed!
|Crossbreeding Mini Jersey Cows:
|The vital statistics and characteristics of crossbreed miniature Jersey cattle vary according to the specifics of the crossbreed selection. Crossbreeding Mini Jerseys with a beef breed like the Mini Hereford will deliver progeny offering the best of both worlds – milk and beef, but in lesser quantities than produced by a purebred mini cow.
|$1,800 to $3,500 (depending on size, coloration, and markings).
Miniature Jersey cows are relatives of the renowned Jersey cow, famous for its prodigious (and highly nutritious) milk production and docile nature. Mini Jerseys have a tawny coat, dark-brown doe-like eyes, and a white face. Their languid gentleness makes them ideal starter milk cows for beginner homesteaders (kids included!).
Mini Jerseys come in two varieties – full-mini Jersey and mid-mini Jersey.
2. Mini Hereford Cow
|Miniature Hereford cattle were first bred in Texas in 1974 by the Largent family using standard full-blood Herefords whose DNA goes back to Herefordshire, England (circa the 18th century).
|Miniature Herefords typically stand between 36” to 42”.
|Mini Herefords weigh between 600 pounds and 1,200 pounds.
|Mini Herefords are famous beef cattle. Mini Herefords have an excellent Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR), making them cost-efficient livestock for prime beef cuts. Mini Herefords are also super-efficient grass mowers. And – Mini Herefords make great pets.
|Miniature Hereford Breeders Association. View here.
|Mini Herefords are hugely popular show cattle due to their calm temperament and ease of handling. A splendid little beast for competitive children and seniors!
|Prices for Mini Herefords range from $1,500 for a heifer to $4,000 for prize-winning specimens.
Mini Hereford cows look like full-size siblings, displaying distinctive red bodies and white face coloration. While they pack small and play big, Mini Herefords are not a separate breed distinct from full-size Herefords. Both big and small Herefords are docile, easy to handle, and very happy around people.
3. Mini Dexter Cows
|The Dexter bloodline can be traced back well over a millennium to the Kerry region of southwestern Ireland. Dexter cattle first arrived in America in the early 20th century.
|Dexter cows range from 34” to 46”, with the majority from 36” to 42”, putting them squarely in the Full Miniature category.
Dexter bulls range in height from 36” to 50”. But most mature to 38” to 44”, categorized as either Full Mini or Mid-size Miniature cattle.
|Dexter cattle range from 650 pounds to around 800 pounds. A show-winning Full Miniature Dexter weighs under 750 pounds.
|Mini Dexter cows produce more milk per weight than any other cattle breed, yielding one and a half gallons to two and a half gallons per day. The high butterfat content of the milk makes ultra-creamy butter and ice cream!
Mini Dexter cattle are sources of choice-grade lean beef. They also make perfect pets or draft animals.
|American Dexter Cattle Association (ADCA). See here.
|Mini Dexter cows are highly fertile and often calve easily. Mild-mannered bulls and doting cows make Mini Dexters ideal homestead animals with a highly active and committed Breed Association that promotes a vibrant youth program.
|$1,000 to $2,500 on average for Chondrodysplasia-free specimens.
If your homestead needs a dash of Irish tenacity and versatility, look no further than Mini Dexter cattle for milk, meat, and pulling loads. Mini Dexter cattle are smaller versions of regular Dexter cattle, a naturally small breed with short-legged and long-legged iterations.
Purebred Dexter cattle are famous for their uncanny ability to survive nearly anywhere. They’re mostly born with solid black coats but also appear with solid red or dun coloring.
4. Mini Highland Cow
|Highland cattle come from the Scottish Highlands, a mountainous region in northwest Scotland. Highlands also come from the Scottish Isles, located alongside the northwest coast of Scotland.
|Mini Highland cattle come in various sizes – Full Miniature (36” – 42”), Mid-size Miniature (42” – 48”), and Micro Miniature (36” or less).
|Full Miniature Highlanders weigh between 500 pounds and 700 pounds.
|Mini Highland cattle are in high demand for several reasons, including tender lean beef, petting, and showing. Their quasi-mythical appearance and laid-back natures make them popular homestead pets and a choice mini cow for breeders.
|American Highland Cattle Society. See here.
|Mini Highlanders carry very little body fat, thanks to their coats, which optimizes their beef yield. Despite looking like beasts fit for Alpine conditions, Mini Highland cows can live in all 50 US states.
|Current market prices for Mini Highland cattle range from $1,500 for a calf to $8,000 for a mature Full Miniature.
There’s no mistaking a Mini Highland cow – its shaggy coat, long fringe, and low-slung horns make this heritage breed from Scotland the fashionista of the miniature cattle scene! Mini Highland cattle are from an ancient bloodline famous for their ability to forage and survive in harsh conditions with minimal human help.
Mini Highland cattle are highly adaptable and sport double coats of many colors, including black, red, dun, yellow, white, brindle, and silver.
5. Zebu Mini Cow
|Mini Zebus (aka Bos Indicus) originated over 8,000 years ago in southern India and neighboring tropical regions of southwest Asia. The first Zebu Mini Cows arrived in the USA in the early 1920s.
|The tallest Mini Zebu stands 42”, but Zebu miniature cows generally measure around 36” – 38”, making them Full Miniatures.
|Zebu mini cows weigh around 600 pounds.
|Traditionally, Zebus were best as draft animals and for meat and leather. Mini Zebus can also yield a gallon of high-butterfat milk a day.
Today, in the USA and other Western countries, Zebu Mini Cows are hugely popular homestead pets due to their tiny frame size, low maintenance costs, and adorable docility.
Zebu Mini Cows are also phenomenal brush cutters. Homesteaders swear by their ability to forage with vigor, clearing dense brush without damaging the root systems of paddock vegetation.
|The International Miniature Zebu Association. View here.
|Scientists are unsure what purpose a Zebu Mini hump serves but suspect it helps dissipate body heat via a system of blood vessels. The hump of a butchered Zebu is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world.
Mini Zebu cows can also live to be well over 20 years old and produce as many as 17 calves.
|The average market value for a Zebu calf is around $1,000.
When Mother Nature breeds a mini cow, a Zebu is the result! The Zebu Mini Cow is the world’s only naturally occurring miniature cattle that matures to a maximum height of 42” or less. Zebu Minis come in various colors, from grey, brown, and black. They can also appear dappled.
Zebu Mini Cows have survived millennia in harsh regions in Asia and Africa to evolve into a petite breed of miniature cattle that is efficient, versatile, resilient, and super cute with a hump to boot!
6. Mini Angus Cow
|The first Full Miniature Angus cattle came from Australia in 1974. From there, they earned the monicker Australian Lowline or Lowline Angus.
Mini Angus cows and bulls first came to the US in the 1990s.
|Mature Mini Angus cows average a height of 39”. Mature Mini Angus bulls stand an average of 41”.
|Mature Mini Angus cows weigh an average of 710 pounds. Mini Angus bulls can weigh as much as 880 pounds.
|Mini Angus cattle are primarily a beef breed. The highly marbled beef is tender and favored by restaurateurs.
Mini Angus cows are remarkably docile and are a popular petting and showing animal for children.
|Australian Lowline Cattle Association. See here.
|Mini Angus beef is famous around the world for its superb marbling. They make delicious beef. And they only need grass to eat. They possess excellent feed efficiency. Mini Angus cows have high fertility and breeding longevity, making them a superb homestead investment.
|Lowline Angus cows average at $3,000. Lowline Angus bulls average at $2,500.
The Mini Angus breed is also known as the Australian Lowline, a downsized version of the Aberdeen Angus, a breed of small, beef-producing cattle from Scotland. Mini Angus/Lowline cows and bulls sport black or red coats. The breed is hornless – and naturally polled.
7. Mini Holstein Cow
|North Holland, Friesland, and Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany.
|Mini Holstein cows range from 36” to 48”, depending on the breed stock. Regular Holstein cows are tall, measuring up to 58”, making for a protracted miniaturization process.
|The average weight of a mature Mini Holstein cow is 800 pounds to 900 pounds.
|Mini Holstein cows are bred for milk production, yielding between 4 to 6 gallons per day). Mini Holsteins are also docile and make great pets! And they have an excellent feed conversion ratio.
|Holstein Association USA. See here.
|The full-size Holstein is the dominant dairy cow in the USA. The Mini Holstein follows suit and is the go-to breed for a small homestead milk cow.
|A Mini Holstein cow costs from $2,000 to $4,000 (depending on size)
Holstein cows are the world’s most prodigious milk producers, and their mini counterparts are equally efficient to scale. The iconic black and white Holstein coat coloring of the full-size Holstein persists in the Mini Holstein, and the tiny version is an excellent training cow for young cowhands.
Which Mini Cows are the Most Expensive?
You might find several specialty crossbred mini cow breeds at a premium because of their unique characteristics, including ultra-cute appearance, micro size, and improved meat and milk production capacity. The novelty Panda Mini Cow can sell for $20,000, while a Highpark milk and beef cross can sell for $25,000.
- Not all of these breeds are registered.
Let’s examine wildly popular crossbred mini cow breeds that are getting the hearts of homesteaders aflutter!
8. Mini Panda Cow
Mini Panda Cows are a registered and trademarked breed developed by Prof. Richard Gradwohl, who produced over 18 specialty mini cattle breeds.
- Gradwohl used eight different small cattle breeds to arrive at his Mini Panda.
The most potent DNA strain in the Mini Panda Cow is from the black and white Belted Galloway.
The Mini Panda Cow is perfect for petting purposes, as a wow factor, and as an investment.
See more about Mini Panda Cows here.
9. Mini Highpark Cow
The Highpark Mini Cow is usually a cross between a Highland miniature and a White Park mini. But other breeds are used to get the desired white coat and colored extremities, including white Dexter and Texas Longhorn breeds.
- Both the Highlander and White Park are from the British Isles.
Both origin breeds are famous for their beef, but the Mini Highpark is also ideal as an investment and petting animal.
Highpark mini cows are currently fetching impressive prices, ranging from $10,000 to $20,000.
10. Mini Fluffy Cow
The best example of a Mini Fluffy Cow is a selectively crossbred White Galloway. (From Australia.) The breeder keeps the other DNA strains secret for good reason (much like a famous soda manufacturer keeps its recipe under wraps).
The Mini Fluffy has a shaggy white coat with a telltale long fringe (a Highland strain, perhaps?) and is for petting and animal-assisted therapy (AAT).
Watch how Mini Fluffy Cows get created here.
11. Teacup Mini Cow
The Teacup Mini Cow is a fluffy micro-mini when bred right! That means no taller than 36”. Teacup Minis are perfect for petting, therapy (AAT), milk, and grass management – or mowing!
The gene pool of Teacup Mini Cows is varied, with everything from mini Highland, Dexter, Galloway, and Hereford DNA finding a part in the action!
Related – Complete Guide to the Mini Teacup Cow!
12. Mini Brahman Cow
To set the record straight, the Mini Brahman Cow is not a true miniature cattle breed. Despite looking similar to a Mini Zebu, the Mini Brahman is a dwarf version of the full-size Brahman.
- The dwarfism in ‘Mini’ Brahman cattle happens due to a non-fatal genetic mutation.
- Brahman mini cattle are 30% shorter than regular Brahman cattle in the herd.
Mini Cows open up new horizons for homesteaders. Their efficiency and docility bring hands-on joy to the family and cost efficiencies to your farm’s bottom line!
Start small by providing your pantry with meat and milk, and then expand your herd to commence breeding premium mini cow variations. Get top-dollar rewards for work that’s fun for the whole family!
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Mini Cow Breeds Guide | Resources, References, and Works Cited
- Mini Jersey Cows | Purebred Mini Jersey Society
- Distinctively Different Highland Cattle | American Highland Cattle Association
- Why Highland Cattle? | Highland Cattle Society
- Mini Highland Cows | Rolling 7 Mini Cattle
- Mini Hereford Facts | Miniature Hereford Breeders
- Dexter Cattle
- Dexter Cattle | Oklahoma State Extension Website
- Miniature Zebu Cattle | Oklahoma State Extension Website
- A Miniature Condition In Brahman Cattle | National Library of Medicine
- Holstein Cattle | Oklahoma State Extension Website
- What Is a Highpark Cow? | International Miniature Cattle Breeder Registry
- Miniature Lowline Angus | University of Wyoming Coop Extension