Local rancher bringing mini-Herefords to Moffat County | CraigDailyPress.com

Local rancher bringing mini-Herefords to Moffat County

Ben Bulkeley
Bill Shue, and his wife, Dona, have operated the Two Shoes Ranch north of Craig for 10 years, but they only acquired their five miniature Hereford cattle Sunday. Shue said one of the benefits to the smaller-sized cows is they eat about half the amount of a regular Hereford yet produce three-quarters of the meat.
Hans Hallgren

After growing up on a 3,000-acre ranch near San Luis, with more than 500 head of cattle, Bill Shue said he wanted a smaller ranch.

By smaller, he meant everything. Including the cows.

Shue, who started Two Shoes Ranch 10 years ago with his wife, Dona, recently purchased five miniature Hereford cattle – the first of their kind in Northwest Colorado, he said.

“It’s hard to tell how much smaller they are unless you have a point of reference,” he said. “But, when they’re up against a fence or a person you say ‘Yeah, that is a smaller cow.'”

The reason for the smaller cattle is simple, Shue said.

The smaller bovines produce about three-quarters of the meat of their regular sized counterparts but eat only about half as much food.

“They’re two-for-one on the land, too,” he said. “We have 37 acres here, so people like us with smaller acreage can still raise cattle.”

In a typical day, the small cows will eat 20 pounds of hay. A full-sized heifer would down twice that, Shue said.

And to accommodate his new half-sized heifers, Shue has had to cut his hay feeders down to size, so the smaller cows can reach their food.

The mini-Herefords look a lot like their regular-sized counterparts, except for shorter, stockier legs.

And, maybe one or two personality differences.

“They’re a little more docile,” he said. “Even Alex (the bull) is more docile.”

The miniature cows measure 42 inches at the shoulder, and weigh in at 1,000 pounds. A typical Hereford cow tips the scales at 1,100 pounds, and measures more than 50 inches at the shoulder.

The miniature variation is relatively new, Shue said.

The first mini was showcased in the 1970s, and the first herd wasn’t bred until 1989.

The only downside, Shue said, is that the little cows aren’t well-known yet.

“We had been looking for months, but there aren’t any in northwestern Colorado,” he said. “We had been looking at different herds, and we finally found one in Elizabeth.”

Shue thinks the miniature cows could find homes on ranches like his.

“As more and more counties and states look to get more out of the property tax, people who have just horses are finding it harder to maintain their agricultural tax status,” he said. “If there are cows on the land, there’s no question it’s agricultural.”

The Shues breed registered quarter horses but have stopped because the market for new horses has become flat.

Shue will have the cows bred for bull prospects and meat.

Eventually, Shue wants to build his herd up to 20 cows, and it all starts with his five new minis.

“You see them more on the Front Range,” he said. “They’re not here yet, but they’re coming.”

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