Miniature (also called diminutive) breeds of different types of farm animals have been around for a long time, but they are enjoying a new-found popularity as more people are turning to small, or hobby, farming. They are also gaining a huge following as people share their pictures on social media sites…because they are so darn adorable! Miniature breeds are a good choice for families interested in introducing their kids to different kinds of animals, as some (but not all) are easier to care for than their full-size cousins. Here are a few of our favorites.
Miniature (or pygmy) goats are affectionate and love lots of attention. They can be trained to walk on a leash and can also be housebroken. They can be kept in small yards and are, of course, excellent eco-friendly lawn mowers and weed whackers! Miniature goats can live up to 15 years of age.
Miniature sheep are between 19 and 24 inches tall. Toy sheep are super small at under 19 inches. They are adorable, if a bit less friendly towards humans than the mini goats. Around 3 mini sheep can pasture on 1-2 acres, and if not pastured, require about 15 pounds of hay per day. They do require shelter, as the tinier they are, the more vulnerable they are to predators.
Miniature cows can still be fairly sizeable, even though they are a good deal smaller than their full-size relatives. Mini cows are easier for children to handle, and they can produce up to 4-5 gallons of milk per day if you’re interested in cheese or yogurt making! Experts warn that miniature cows do require as much work and care as a larger cow, so some of the other mini species might be a better choice for people new to hobby farming.
Also called hobby horses, small-scale horses have been around for a long time. They stand up to 34 inches high and weigh between 150 and 250 pounds. Miniature horses are known for their intelligence and trainability as well as for their calm, friendly natures. Some owners use them to carry small packs on hiking trips, and some mini horses are utilized as service and therapy animals.
Smaller-sized chickens are called bantams. Many standard chicken breeds have bantam varieties that are between one-fifth and one-quarter size smaller than the regular version. Bantams require less space than other chickens, and the females lay eggs that are one-half to one-third the size of standard eggs. Bantams make popular pets for people interested in showing them because they can get pretty fancy looking!
Photo credits top to bottom (all Flickr): Ginger Powers Through The Snow by Pete Markham; Dwarf goat by Tom Bastin; Sheep resting on Goodfoot Farm by NRCS Oregon; Cautious cows by Yun Huang Yong; Big and Little by Pete Markham; Eliot by normanack.
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