Yes, as in, miniature.
They exist, I promise.
(Miniature giraffes, sadly, do not.)
I’ve been doing my research and I’m pretty sure I would love nothing more than a miniature Jersey heifer calf. You guys — take a LOOK. At. This. Face.
(image credit: South Side Stables)
That is a real animal. It really is, and I want it. Bad.
But I don’t just want one because they are painfully cute and adorable in every possible way. I need little Bessie here to bring me some nourishment.
As you may already know, I live in a big, fat red state, as show here on the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s Raw Milk Nation map. That means that under no circumstances is it legal for anyone to sell real, unprocessed, unpasteurized milk. Not farm sales, not for pets, not herd shares, NOTHING. Literally your only hope of consuming healthy, raw milk is to squeeze it out of your own dairy animal. Which we have tried.
We briefly had a goat, bought a pregnant sheep, and neither ended up being fruitful milkers for us. Dorothy is probably the very worst dairy sheep we could have possibly gotten. Her little teaties are tiny, her udder, utterly pathetic, and until very recently the darn thing wouldn’t stand still long enough for you to even touch her, much less grab onto her nether-regions to squirt some milk into a bucket.
So Dorothy brought us a very adorable baby ram lamb, and somewhat of a trimming to the overgrown grass on the property, but not much else. It’s time to find a decent dairy animal.
Miniature Jersey cows are an ideal family dairy animal for many reasons. They are actually not a sized-down version of their larger, conventional counterparts, but rather — their pint-size is actually characteristic of the original heritage breed.
Jersey cows have been bred larger since industrialization of the dairy industry began. Bigger cows = more milk. Jerseys used to produce 1-3 gallons of milk a day, and now? Those big ones are pumping out 8-10. Since most families would never be able to use up that much milk for themselves, the original mini Jersey is a much better choice. You’ll get usually no more than 2.5 gallons a day out of these little beauties. And, Jersey’s are known for their milk’s high butterfat content. Hel lo. Obviously a huge plus.
Mini cows also take up much less space. For a full-sized dairy cow, you ought to have at least a couple acres of land per animal. But with a mini, you only need about 1/2 an acre.
A well-bred mini will stand only about 36-40 inches in height. Their small stature makes them easier to handle and transport, and the Jersey in particular has a very calm and friendly demeanor. They’re even great with children!
A girl can dream…
So, did you notice the flower lei around that sweet little calf’s neck pictured up there? That’s because that beautiful face actually got shipped all the way out here to Hawaii!
There are only a handful of mini Jersey breeders in the country, and there are definitely none here in the islands. So, my only hope of getting one of these precious creatures is to fly one out from the mainland. As you can imagine, that’s not exactly cheap.
But my hunt continues. I’d love to maybe find a cheaper cross bred mini that doesn’t come with the standard price tag for the purebreds (about $2-3,000 a head) to ship out here, if we could actually afford it. Although, I’ll likely only find a young calf just weaned from its mother, which means I’d have to wait another year to breed her, and then another 9 months before she’d be in milk. That’s just way too long to wait, milkless.
So while I dream of a steady stream of luscious cream flowing from a gorgeous doe-eyed Emily-sized (I’m rather miniature myself) Jersey cow, I’m going to be on the lookout for a decent dairy goat in the meantime.
Have you heard of miniature cows before? Would you consider adding one to your homestead if you could?
[2nd image credit: florador on Flickr]