At GOLD CREEK, we specialise in breeding docile, family friendly miniature cattle - cattle that many people want to keep as paddock pets. Our calves are very well handled and have been trained specifically for the first-time livestock owners and children.
We walk among our herd, brush them, scratch them and talk to them several times a day, every day, just because we can. Subsequently, cattle are seriously quiet. If you are confident, firm and kind, willing to ask questions and learn the basics, you can probably manage our small, well-trained cattle.
Like all pets, miniature cattle as pets are a commitment. They need your care regularly - if you want to keep them as pets. These cattle are naturally docile and very, very hardy. If you just want to keep them as paddock ornaments, they will survive perfectly well if left to their own devices. But why would you? We believe it is the humans that really benefit most from the ongoing contact with these cattle, not so much the cattle. So ... why deny yourself the pleasure?
Training is sometimes just standing around with the halter on just looking cute.
Calves love training sessions. Scooter loved showing visitors how clever he was!
Our steers are weaned at six months and our heifers a little later. By this age, they are sweet, gentle and halter trained - you can walk up to them in the paddock and put a halter on them. You can attach a lead to the halter and ask them to ‘walk on’ and they will follow you. When you stop, they will stop. These little mates have been handled (by adults and children) from the day they were born. They love to be brushed, talked to and scratched under the chin.
We do not sell our steers as pets until they are six months old. Parting with them is always heart-wrenching - but they have all gone to fabulous new homes, so everyone is happy.
If you want to keep miniature cattle as pets, then the easiest way is to buy cattle that have been bred and trained for this purpose. Not all miniature cattle breeders breed miniature cattle for this purpose. You may choose to look for miniature cattle that you can quieten and train yourself, it can be a very rewarding experience.
Once you have purchased docile, friendly, paddock pets you need to treat them like pets. You need to continue the regular, hands-on interaction with them. Not every day, but at least a couple of times a week. If you continue with the regular training, your miniature calves grow up sweet and easy to manage.
Our full grown, little white cow gets some love and affection from a friend's three-year-old granddaughter down in the paddock.
Hands-on interaction means taking time to walk up close to your miniature cattle and talk to them or maybe scratch them on the top of the tail. It can also mean putting the halter on them, taking them for a stroll and telling them they are good when they 'walk on' or 'stand'. It might mean just giving them some calf muesli with a mineral supplement mixed in it and a kind word. It could mean breaking up a biscuit of hay and brushing them with a slicker brush while they eat the hay. It definitely does not mean leaving them to their own devices for weeks or months on end. You can do this of course, and they will be fine - there is even a good chance that they will be just as docile and friendly. But there is always the risk that they won't.
This hands-on time is important with steers and heifers. Steers need you to be gentle but firm with them on a regular basis as they mature - they will remain docile and well behaved if you do. Their well-mannered behaviour cannot be guaranteed if you don't. Calves must be constantly reminded that even gentle nudging, pushing or butting you with their heads is definitely 'not on'. As they grow, there can be up to 350-400kgs behind that 'nudge', and it will not be funny. Go to Calf Whispering for more on this.
To the enjoy of the birth of a calf with your miniature cows, you need to have formed a strong bond with your cow well before she calves. If you have walked up to her every day or so for a few weeks, then there is a good chance she will be happy to have you there on the big day! ( Especially if you have given her a brush or some beef flakes with apple cider vinegar on them.) If you don't have her trust, it is the cow's natural instinct to not let you near her or her new calf for weeks if not months.
The calf is a day old - you want to get this close and 'Mum' to be relaxed.
You want the cow to chew her cud and the calf to come to you for a cuddle.