Image via Wikipedia
Published in the WOW! supplement of the Evening Echo.
Forget your Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, your Andean chinchillas, your African pygmy hedgehogs and your North American chipmunks: apparently tiny Irish cattle are the latest en-vogue pet for forward-thinking families. Spurred on by high food prices and a growing desire to “get back to basics” on the nutrition front, people, it seems, are going gaga for miniature cows, and the most popular breed – the Dexter – hails from Ireland.
Pet cow with benefits
According to an article I read over the weekend, for anywhere between €250 and €2,500 (presumably depending on the pedigree) you can get yourself a mini food factory that stands no taller than a large dog, produces around 9 litres of milk every day, keeps your grass trimmed and will make a popular family pet for a few years before eventually filling your freezer with high-quality beef.
Families across the UK, it seems, are turning to Dexters, and launching themselves into very-small-scale farming. Registrations of the breed, which originated in the south of Ireland as the perfect “cottager’s” cow, have more than doubled since the millennium, according to the Dexter Cattle Society. But the traditional miniature breed isn’t having it all its own way; keen to jump on the miniature band wagon, people are busy creating miniature versions of other popular breeds, including the Mini-Hereford and Lowline-Angus.
A single Dexter cow will, in theory provide as much milk as a family can use, and a single calf each year that can then be grown on for meat. With concerns over the quality and health implications of intensively reared meats, and food prices heading skyward at an alarming rate, its easy to see why mini cows are catching on. I’ve no doubt the girls would love one, but I can think of a few downsides.