Since the last post, my herd of minis has grown so that now there are around sixty of them if you count cows, calves and bulls. It has got to the point where I have to take my paddock book out with me to identify some of them! This is especially when two or more may look so alike once they are mature. Ear tags are helpful but only if the ears are kept trimmed. I have bought in a few more, mostly females and sold one or two to other breeders or as culls to the Works. We had another drought this summer so this photo shows some of the twenty-five cows and calves having their daily feed of supplementary hay.
Two years ago I decided it was time to take a hard look at what I had and sort out which were to stay and which were to go. Unfortunately Mother Nature must have been looking over my shoulder and decided to take a hand so that I ended up with a catastrophic calving season losing ALL the heifer "mini" calves. I also lost two lovely first calvers. This made the decision to not calve them until they are three year olds as we do with our standard polled Herefords. They just are not mature enough and I have been very lucky with the results from the previous four years of breeding.
The original goal was to build up to at least fifty breeding cows but that has now been revised down to around thirty unless I can acquire more land. At present there are, I hope, twenty-six.cows in calf for next Spring. Two other goals have been to develop an entirely polled herd and to get the coat colours much darker. This is slowly being achieved with the use of two imported polled bulls from the USA. First was KNF General Stan Watie then a few years later Diamond S Starbuck. Quite a few polled calves have been born to both these bulls and there are others sired by sons of those bulls.
KNF General Stan Watie Diamond S Starbuck
Both Stan Watie and Starbuck are heterozygous polled, i.e. only carry one polled gene. Since acquiring Starbuck four years ago from Robert Watts of Diamond S Herefords, Kennewick, Washington State, I have been working with breeders in the USA to find more polled Miniature Hereford bulls. Two homozygous polled (carrying both polled genes) bulls have finally been selected from the herd of Betty Johnson of Straitside Ranch, Sequim, Washington State as suitable for the herds in New Zealand. With arrangements for importing straws well in hand these should be available for use in October of this year (2017). There are also a couple of homozygous polled bulls in Australia I am keeping my eye on. All this variety of genetics can only benefit our Miniature Hereford herds. Over fifty per cent of the latest crop of my calves, born in Spring, 2016, are polled which is very pleasing. It will reduce the vet. bills, too, when there are fewer to be dehorned!