Friday, June 21, 2024

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People & Pets

Miniature cows


After Cindy McGuire moved to an acreage, she gradually acquired a variety of farm animals including goats, chicken, horses and the miniature cows she breeds.

When visualizing a miniature cow, what comes to mind? A cow the size of a dog? Or a goat? For reference, a regular cow weighs about 1,200 pounds.

However, a miniature cow, such as the two cows owned by Cindy McGuire, each weigh about 300 pounds. That gives new meaning to the word miniature, right?

Cindy is a professed “city girl” who also works as a sports therapist. She and her mom purchased the miniature cows, Fiona (who looks like the ogre from “Shrek”) and Corabelle. The cow breed is a cross between a belted Galloway and a miniature bull.

She keeps the cows and other animals on her farm. Ballycor — the name of her farm —  hosts guests and parties as a unique way to meet farm animals.

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Cindy started out small by purchasing an acreage outside of Earlham in 2018. A friend’s horse needed a place to board, so she obliged.

Her sister used to have a pony, Bambi, as a kid but had to give her up. Cindy thought to herself, “I have a farm now. It’s too bad that Bambi isn’t around.” 

So Cindy and her mother looked for Bambi and found she was still alive. At age 27, the owners sold the horse back to Cindy. She surprised her sister with the return of Bambi. 

“My sister squatted, and Bambi dropped her head. It had been 15 years since she saw her. Bambi remembered her,” she says. “She was happy-go-lucky, and we got to come full circle.”

After the horses, she acquired goats, chickens and a peacock. A neighbor’s calf kept sneaking under the fence, making friends with the horses. She knew the calf would eventually be sold. 

“The calf made friends with the horses. She’ll be going to market soon, so I asked if I could buy her,” she recalls. “Nobody will get butchered. I’m kind to my animals.”

That’s when Cindy discovered the miniature cows. She ordered semen from King George, a miniature white park bull, and bred her with Ellie, the cow she purchased. She later sold the offspring.

After that, she and her mom bought two miniature cows, Corabelle and Fiona. Even the females have horns, which were only a few inches when they were first born. 

“The cows are feral. If they move just right, you could be impaled,” she says. “People who see them for the first time are afraid of them. With cows, you need to be more cautious, as they are not naturally tame.” 

She studied how to collect embryos and sexting embryos to produce a white miniature cow with black spots. She eventually wants to breed the cows, as folks keep the miniature cows as pets.

Meanwhile, she shares her love of animals by hosting parties, including for the Dowling Cross Country team who came to chill and have a picnic dinner. She likes how she can share her love of animals. 

“People rarely get the opportunity to learn about animals. If I can introduce people, they can pause and take a break out here. I really enjoy helping people with animals.”

She pours her love into the animals she considers pets. 

“They give me a lot of joy. It’s hard work taking care of them, feeding them every day,” she says. “When I bought the farm, it wasn’t for me. It was meant to be shared.” ♦

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