Miniature Highland Cattle
2 Men & A Hen decided in the summer of 2018 to begin a breeding project for miniature highland cattle. Details of the project are outlined below including pictures of our foundation stock.
We acquired our foundation heifers from two sources in Central Michigan. Five 100% highland heifers came from midsize miniature stock (42"-48"). Three heifers came from a breeder with highlands and dexter cattle. These three heifers are 50%, 50%, and 75% highland and are chondro negative. Our bull (Parker) was sourced from Hans & Sheril Peterson in Lakeport MI. He carries the white park gene and the dexter chondrodysplasia (BD1) gene and is 62.5% highland. We specifically chose these cattle to start our miniature highland project because of their conformation, size, and availability.
In 2018 it is extremely difficult to acquire miniature highland cattle of good stock at a respectable price. Miniature highlands are selling for $3000 - $10,000 each and are extremely difficult to find. We spent a significant amount of money on Parker as he is a miniature and carriers the white park and chondro gene both of which we want to be prominent in our herd.
Our intention with our miniature highland project is to breed Parker to our foundation girls and keep all of the daughters especially focusing on those that carry the BD1 gene and white park traits. Once we have 10 or so BD1 positive heifers we will acquire a 100% miniature highland bull to breed them.
The chondrodysplasia gene (BD1) shrinks cattle by 4"- 6" and is easily managed in a herd with a responsible breeder. BD1 also improves temperament in cattle making them more docile and friendly. BD1 is a dominate genetic trait that results in the death of cattle that are genetically homozygous for BD1. Approximately 25% of calves from BD1 positive x BD1 positive are homozygous BD1 and are still born. To prevent homozygous BD1 in cattle it is imperative that BD1 carrying cattle are bred to non-BD1 carrying cattle. Which results in 100% viable calves 50% of which carry the BD1 gene.
While building a miniature highland herd using the BD1 gene it is important to realize that this alone will only make 50% of cattle born miniature and is not an effective method of breeding miniature cattle. This is why Parker as well as every future herd sire must be genetically small without the BD1 gene. Parker is the foundation of our herd and will breed all of our midsize miniature highland heifers. The offspring from these breedings even without the BD1 gene should bring us very close to miniature classification which is 36"-42" at three years of age. Our BD1 heifers sired by Parker and bred to a 100% miniature highland should produce miniature calves all of the time and may even begin producing micro miniature calves (less than 36").
To sell miniature highland as highland we require that they be at least 75% highland. All others will be considered highland crosses and will sell at cheaper prices. They still will make great animals and tasty meat but are not highland enough to ensure they will have the long highland coat and majestic horns.
We will not be selling any heifers from the above project until we reach our desired herd size of heifers. There may come a time when BD1 negative heifers are available for sale. It will be at least 3 or 4 years (2022) before we have BD1 positive heifers available. We will be selling most of the males born in this project as steers but may leave a couple intact as bulls if they are superb specimens.