Every heard of Happy Mountain Farm? They raise mini cattle there. That’s right, miniature cows! These little hefers tip the cattle scales at between 600-800 lbs each as opposed to more traditional cows weighing in at about 1200 lbs. In spite of their small size, these little cows are big producers. They make 2/3 the amount of milk of a regular cow but only eat a third as much. That doesn’t sound like much of a difference but when it’s multiplied, the amount of money involved gets incredibly large! This is especially true for small farms focused on sustainable farming practices.
What makes for a sustainable cattle farm? Well, there are many factors that go into that. The smallest amount of grazing area per pound of meat is ideal. Mini-cows eat only 1/3 the amount of their heftier cousins. This means that only five acres of land, you can have 10 mini cows which produce as much as 6,000 pounds of meat as opposed to 2 full size cows which produce around 2,400 pounds of meat.
The cows should also be grass fed as opposed to grain fed. Grain fed cows not only eat a resource which humans could be consuming in a global food crisis but they produce more methane and require more antibiotics than grass fed cows. Studies have even shown that cows grazing on fields of grass help to maintain the biodiversity of species of grasses. It also means that grain does not have to be shipped hundreds of miles wasting fossil fuels and creating even more air pollution.
If the movie Food, Inc. taught us anything at all, it’s that huge scale industrial farming practices need to change for the good of all. Maybe thinking in a small scale with these mini cows and sustainable cattle farming practices could end up making a huge difference for farmers who sell their meat locally and maintain small herds.