Riverlands Pearl 05 0722 was leaving it very late to calve and we had almost given up hope that she would do so as she didn't look overly large. BUT........on November 27th 2009, when the 'boss' was on his daily rounds, he almost ran over a small object lying in the grass. Pearl was standing nearby and on closer examination the discovery was made of an incredibly little calf which turned out to be hers! It weighed only 16 kgs – less than half the average weight of a normal standard Hereford calf and a good 5 kgs lighter than the smaller of my twin Miniature Hereford calves. When checking the condition of the calf and the mating records we decided it might possibly be a couple of weeks early but certainly not enough to be called 'premature'.
This little lady, Riverlands Pearl 09 0085, could not even reach her mother's teats so for several days we hand milked the cow and fed the baby from a bottle with a lamb's teat attached as her mouth was too small for the conventional calf teat. Finally, with much stretching, she managed to latch onto a teat and was away. It was quite funny to see her mother washing her and almost knocking her over with just her tongue but the wee thing was very determined and nothing was going to keep her down. I missed one of the best of photographic opportunities on a day that was raining when little one was tucking into breakfast while sheltering right underneath her mother. The camera is now almost a fixture on my person!
Little Pearl eventually grew up, was weaned and went off with the big girls in her heifer group but we kept an eye on her. A bit later on it became evident that she and a few others were not coping as well as they could in a wet winter which had followed a long drought. We pulled them out of the group and put them in with the weaned Miniature Hereford calves where they were able to get a daily feed of molasses as well as have a whole paddock to themselves.
Although rather shy, reluctant to push her way in among the others and still shorter than even the minis Little Pearl was growing and thriving. Now, as a yearling, she is quite beautiful – very dark, well marked and with good conformation. She is not stunted in any way, just SMALL. Her future will not be with the big Herefords as she will be too small for any of those bulls but she will join an elite group. This is made up of specially picked registered standard Herefords, all polled and all smaller than average which are run with a Miniature Hereford bull to start an exclusive line of polled minis.
Miniature Herefords began this way in the States, using small standard Herefords and gradually reducing the size until the “miniature” was achieved. Every Miniature Hereford has this mixture of sizes in its background and all their pedigrees will show it. Around the world breeders are developing their own lines in a similar fashion but with the advantage of now starting with miniature stock such as a mini bull over larger Herefords. They are ALL full blood Herefords - just different sizes of the same breed. At the moment such progeny is not registerable in New Zealand but they will all come from registered animals and have their own pedigree records. With the increasing preference for polled cattle there will be a demand for this type of Miniature Hereford and Riverlands Pearl 09 0085 will have her place in history!