River Ranch

ZEBU FARM

www.zebufarm.com

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Are Miniature Zebu Right For You?

I'm glad you asked!  Every miniature zebu owner has different motivations for initially purchasing their animals.  The following is a sampling of what some mini zebu owners have given as reasons they own and love this unique breed of cattle.  You may find that one or more of these benefits could make miniature zebu a good addition to  your family.

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Miniature Zebu - A Brief History

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Economics

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Feasibility

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Novelty

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Kids and Family

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Other

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For the Horse Owner

 

 

A full grown miniature zebu bull beside a normal longhorn bull.

 

Miniature Zebu - A Brief History

(This section is a brief compilation of information gathered from publications, internet resources, and personal experience)

The miniature zebu is a relatively rare, unique animal here in the U.S.  The breed itself originated in India, with records dating back as far as 3000 B.C.  Their first recorded presence in the United States occurred in the 1920's when a few animals were imported for display in zoological gardens. 

Miniature zebu are thought to be the only TRUE miniature breed of cattle in existence that were NOT created by man.  The breed has naturally evolved over thousands of years to become the animal you see today.  Although there have recently become several new varieties of miniature cattle, most have been the result of genetic experimentation and many have achieved their small size by being bred to the miniature zebu.  Unlike these cross breeds, miniature zebu are NOT a "miniature" version of another full size species.  God made them naturally just the way they are, and you will notice that unlike their man-made cousins, their appearance is very proportional, with their legs, heads, and bodies all looking like they belong together.

Pure miniature zebu are fairly rare in North America, with most remaining in their country of origin, India, where cattle are considered sacred.  Reports indicate there to be only a couple thousand registered pure miniature zebu existing in the United States.  Miniature zebu are generally a tropical breed, thriving in hot, humid climates, although many animals are owned on farms up north.  They are exceptionally resistant to disease and are known to be very easy to care for.  Miniature zebu range from 26" to 42" in height, with most averaging 36" to 38", and they generally weigh between 200 and 500 pounds, depending on the size of the animal.  Life spans of miniature zebu are often 20+ years.

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Economics

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Breed Purpose       

Miniature zebu are cattle.  Functionally speaking, they are no different than any other breed of cattle around the world.  They can be used for meat production, dairy production, labor animals, etc.  Remember, a cow is a cow is a cow; it doesn't have to be big to be a cow.

In countries like Africa, where zebu cattle are more common, zebu are raised for meat and dairy for personal and commercial consumption.  They are the breed of choice where quantities of grass and other forage are scarce because they require much less food than their larger cousins.  They are also used as draft animals to pull carts or trench fields.  While the zebu in Africa are generally larger than the miniature variety so treasured in the U.S., they look and live very similarly to their American cousins.

Because the smallest variation of zebu cattle was only recently introduced to the U.S., they are much more rare.  This short supply of breeding stock has encouraged most animals to be held for breeding purposes and pets, rather than slaughtered for their beef.

Over the next 20 years, as the breed becomes more common, and as more large farms become subdivided into smaller parcels, the miniature zebu will likely emerge as a breed of choice for small farm production, especially when quantities of space, grass, and feed are limited.

 

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Value       

Registered foundation pure (RFP) miniature zebu are very popular and very rare.  Many buyers travel to different areas of the country to locate and purchase their animals if they can not find them locally.  The current average cost of a RFP miniature zebu bull calf is $500 to $2000, while the average cost of a RFP miniature zebu heifer calf is $1500 to $3000.  Bulls and cows are normally priced on the higher sides of the averages, and it is very common for animals to sell in the $3000 to $10,000 price range if they are out of quality stock or if they possess small size or unique color characteristics.

Miniature zebu make a great investment, with their sale values often doubling the market value of full size beef cattle.  A bred miniature zebu cow will often pay for herself with her first calf.  With the demand for these unusual animals increasing and the supply relatively small, miniature zebu can offer a great investment opportunity.

 

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Agricultural Exemptions (varies from county to county, state to state)

In many comminiature zebumunities, urban encroachment continues to "eat up" once rural areas.  The average person with a few acres or a small farm can be financially strained when surrounding development increases their property values, in turn driving their annual property taxes through the roof.  Counties provide relief for individuals who use their land for viable agricultural purposes such as tree farming, growing crops, or grazing cattle.  In most instances, horses do not qualify a person for an agricultural exemption.  Cattle do!

Miniature zebu are the perfect animal to acquire to get an agricultural exemption (see feasibility for more info).  In many instances, including ours, the savings people get from their first year of exemption exceed the cost of their initial herd purchase.  That means that just owning miniature zebu allows many people to keep more of their hard earned money, rather than giving it away to Uncle Sam.

It's no secret why urban property investors seek the services of "rent-a-cow" companies to graze livestock on valuable properties.  They save themselves a fortune in taxes they don't have t pay, and the land is used for productive purposes rather than sitting idle.

 

 

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Less Investment

Because miniature zebu are so much smaller than regular cattle, there is no need to invest in the high end, specialized equipment required to manage normal sized cattle.  The average horse or cargo trailer is sufficient to move animals.  Even goat trailers or truck bed cages will work.  No additional fencing need be provided as panel fence, field fence, barbed wire fence, even hotwire can effectively contain miniature zebu.  Interlocking portable horse pen panels can be used to contain and corral miniature zebu without the need to invest in heavy duty, permanent corrals and loading chutes.  Due to their small size, mini cattle are less likely to damage your fences and equipment.  Miniature zebu eat roughly a third of what a full size cow might eat, thus they require far less land investment and far less winter hay.  They are extremely resistant to many of the health problems encountered by regular cattle, and usually require significantly less veterinary and health care expense than the average cattle operation.

The less you spend on equipment, feed, and maintenance, the more profitable your cattle venture will be.

BOTTOM LINE - MINIATURE ZEBU CATTLE WILL COST YOU LESS, SAVE YOU MORE, AND MAKE YOU MONEY IN THE PROCESS!

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Feasibility

There are many reasons why it is simply more feasible to own miniature zebu rather than full size cattle, and why they are an ideal animal to complement the small acreage land owner or horse farm.

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Able to be managed without heavy duty, specialized equipment

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Much easier to move and transport, without the need to buy expensive specialized trailers.  They weigh less and take up less space, so more animals can be moved with smaller equipment and less fuel.

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Their smaller size and generally gentle nature makes them much safer to work with and keep around a homestead.

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EAT LESS, averaging eating only 1/3 of what a full sized cow will eat.

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Require less acreage and less space to comfortably support a herd.

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Smaller size and smaller diet has less of an impact and causes less damage to turf and pasture.

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As little as one acre can support a zebu, making them perfect for the small to midsize farm or homestead.

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Get along great with other livestock, especially horses.

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Very hearty, disease resistant animals that are very self sufficient and require less time and effort to manage.

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Perfect warm climate animal, but also do well in colder northern areas.

BOTTOM LINE - THEY ARE SAFER, EAT LESS, REQUIRE LESS SPACE, TAKE LESS TIME, AND GET ALONG WELL WITH OTHER ANIMALS.

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Novelty

There is nothing else quite like a miniature zebu, which makes them quite a novelty.  They are still quite rare, and most people have never heard of them.  It is interesting to see people's reactions after having seen them for the first time.  They are amazed at how small and gentle they are, and I've not met a person yet who did not like them.  Having a miniature zebu is kind of like having a laptop computer instead of a desktop, getting all the function in a smaller package.

Many people like having something unique and interesting to look at.  Their are several different color variations of miniature zebu that can also make their appearance more enjoyable, including whites, blacks, grey/blues, reds, paints, spotted, and various combinations of all.  It can also be fun to explore breeding options to try and get smaller and more colorful animals.  It seems that "the smaller the better" holds true with miniature zebu cattle.

Many people enjoy having and caring for farm/livestock animals, but are looking for an alternative to the horse that never gets ridden, or the dog nobody wants to take for a walk.  Many of these same people want something of manageable size that requires little maintenance.  Miniature zebu cattle are the perfect match.

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Kids & Family

Simply put, miniature zebu make great pets!  They can be every bit as lovable and affectionate as a big dog, especially if they are bottle raised.  They will become as tame as you try to make them, and we've found that even the wildest zebu can become gentle with a little extra time and patience.  Miniature zebu can be halter broken and trained to walk on a lead.miniature zebu

Often times, kids are intimidated by large animals.  Miniature zebu present a great opportunity for kids to connect with an animal that is smaller, easier to train, and easier to care for.  Taking care of animals, in general, teaches kids responsibility.  The miniature zebu's small size and gentle disposition make them easier and safer to handle by kids.

Miniature zebu are always a hit at fairs and as 4-H projects.  Bottle fed calves and the kids leading them receive plenty of attention.  Many zebu owners display their animals at fairs, 4-H events, and even participate in regional shows and competitions.

Miniature zebu are becoming very popular at petting zoos and traveling children's displays.  They are just so unique to look at, and so gentle, people love them.  After all, it's not every day that people get to pet and play with a cow. 

Miniature zebu get along with other livestock very well, and they make a great addition to any farm family.

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Other

There is an ever growing national movement toward home-grown, grass fed beef.  Many Americans are seeking a healthy, drug and chemical free alternative to store bought foods.  Miniature zebu, while valuable for re-sale, can also be raised at home to provide a health conscious family with an endless supply of natural beef.  Mature animals are much smaller than full grown cattle and are just right to fill the freezer of a growing family.

There are articles available on the internet from people who milk their miniature zebu.  I've never tried it, but they say that it is exceptionally rich in butter fat and the contents can be used to make cheese and other products.  They also say the milk is delicious and retains many of the nutrients that are otherwise killed during the packing and shipping process.  It might sound crazy not to just run to the store for milk, but I guess everyone got their milk this way 100 years ago.

Need some landscaping maintenance?  Some people get these hearty, easy to manage little animals to help clear brush on a thick piece of property, or to keep yard and pasture grass short so they don't have to mow as often.

Miniature zebu are a breed of choice in many kids rodeos.  They can be used as bucking bulls or ropers.  I don't think I'd be too thrilled about my kid tying himself on to a 1500 lb. Brahma, but maybe a 300 to 400 lb. mini zebu isn't so bad.

Miniature zebu are becoming more of a staple at petting zoos these days.  They are a lot more realistic to house and maintain in small quarters around small children than a full sized breed of cow.  Even our local zoo has a miniature zebu in its petting area (in case you're wondering, it did not come from me).

The list of uses and reasons to own miniature zebu are as different as the people who own them.  These animals have proven to be very versatile, easy to keep, and a great value for those who keep them.   They are a joy to own!

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For the Horse Owner

Miniature zebu get along great with horses!

While horses have a big appetite and eat a lot of grass, miniature zebu eat less than a third of what a regular cow eats, leaving far more grass for your horses.

Miniature zebu require very little maintenance and won't distract you from your horses.

Your family and friends (and maybe even your horses) will fall in love with your little mini cows, I promise.

You may now be eligible for the agricultural tax exemption!!! (saving you $$$)

Your neighbors will want to buy your calves when they see what a great thing you've got going.  (They'll think you're a genius!)        

That should settle it.

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