By KRISS NELSON
Farm News staff writer
KELLEY – Jason Mishler has been raising miniature Herefords since 2004 in southwestern Story County and found them to be the perfect fit for his small farm.
There are many benefits of raising smaller breeds of cattle, such as the Miniature Hereford, including less feed and pasture and they are easier to handle and care for, he said.
“They are a lot more docile,” Mishler said, “don’t eat near as much and they are a lot easier on my pasture.
“Because they don’t weigh as much, they don’t rip it up as bad.”
Miniature Herefords weigh about half of what the standard-sized Herefords weigh, which means they will eat nearly half as much.
Mishler said he figures his miniature Herefords, when they are full-grown steers, will weigh around 700 to 800 pounds.
Mishler pastures two cow/calf pairs per one acre of pasture. He said some producers have been known to put more than that on their land, but that seems to work well for his herd and pasture.
Back in 2004, Mishler started with two cows and a bull and has grown his herd to nine purebred miniatures and three cross-bred miniatures.
“I wanted to raise something different so I researched them and that’s what I wanted,” he said.
In the beginning, Mishler said that raising miniatures was more of an expensive hobby but is growing his herd to become more profitable.
This is the first year that Mishler is finishing one Hereford and one of his miniature cross breeds to use for meat for his own family.
Typically, he said he has sold his cattle to people wanting to start their own herd or as pets.
He said he has sold miniature Herefords both locally and out of state.
When dressed out, Mishler said, a full-sized miniature Hereford is just enough meat to fill a freezer for an average-sized family.
According to the Miniature Hereford Association, the smaller size of the cattle means shorter muscle length.
While this theory is unproven scientifically, there are many advocates of miniature Hereford beef who believe the meat is more tender because of the shorter muscle length.
Also, because the animal’s muscles need not be toned to carry 2,000 pounds, they tend to be more tender.
Mishler said the meat is also supposed to be healthier in that because of the smaller size of the animal, the meat cuts are more of the proper portion size for humans.
Although Mishler considers his miniature Hereford herd is mainly just a hobby and a supplement to his income working full-time at the Pioneer Livestock Nutrition Center in Polk City, he said they are gaining in popularity and have their own class at local and statewide livestock shows.
The smaller size of the animal, make them a right fit for smaller children to begin showing calves and steers and also a perfect fit for the smaller hobby and acreage farmer wanting to raise livestock and doesn’t have the room for full-sized cattle, Mishler said.
Mishler grew up in Ankeny and switched to North Polk high school during his sophomore year to be able to join FFA. His fondness for the farm began early while hanging out with a friend that grew up on a farm and he eventually began working for the friend’s family before starting work at Pioneer.
In addition to his miniature Hereford herd, Mishler raises several chickens, ducks and geese and annually feeds out a few pigs just to have a variety in the freezer.
He and a partner run a small hay business.
Mishler said he has plans to keep raising miniature Herefords and would eventually like to add a herd of British White Park cattle and keep them on a separate pasture.
“They are rare and I just really like those cattle,” he said.
Contact Kriss Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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