We get lots of calls that ask "How do you tell if a particular animal is a miniature"? The International Miniature Cattle Breeders Society has developed criteria for determination that is very helpful. Basically you measure at the hip (see drawing). Its been agreed that the starting point is the hook bone. There is less movement at this point compared to the shoulder measurement. The key here is consistency. If everyone measures at the same point we can have the same height standard for all miniature cattle in each of the breed categories. 

Cattle have the characteristics of getting taller as time goes by. Most owners seem to agree that growth occurs up to 3 years with most of that growth occurring up to 24 months. Growth may also take place after 3 years but is usually minimal. You have to have a cutoff point so 3 years is it. 

There are two categories of miniature cattle, full miniature and mid size miniature. If a particular animal is between 42.0" and 48.0" at three years of age it is considered a mid size miniature. It needs to be mentioned that cattle that are between 42.0" and 48.0" at three years are very small compared to standard size large cattle. Now if an animal at three years of age is 42.0" and under it would be considered a full miniature. Some of the breeds are consistently in the full miniature range while others are more consistently mid size. Most of the breeds have animals in both mid and full miniature height ranges. 

Age is another key factor used in the determination of full and mid size miniatures. Most miniature cattle look smaller and weigh less when they are born compared to larger animals. There is an average growth rate that takes place (see frame chart). The frame chart can be used to approximate where a particular animal might be in a year or two. This is based on the average gain which can also be monitored. All measurements start at six months of age because it's pretty hard to tell at an earlier age. The smaller an animal at any particular age the higher the number of 0's it will score, i.e. from 0 to 000000. Above 0 is in the mid size range of +1, +2, +3, above +3 is not miniature. 

Because of the three year cutoff and monitoring the average gain it's not likely that an animal scoring 0 or less will be over 48.0" at three years. It can and does happen however. Registration certificates issued by the International Miniature Cattle Breeders Society Registry are temporary until three years of age. All animals are initially registered as miniature but a second height measurement is required at three years of age for permanent status. There is no charge for the change from temporary to permanent status. 

At the present time there are 21 breeds of miniature cattle (see chart). Some of these breeds have large numbers of animals while other breeds are in the developmental stages. Dexters have considerable numbers throughout the world now. Miniature Herefords are plentiful although the numbers are smaller. Other breeds numbers range from ten Kentshires® to several hundred Zebu. The height standards are the same for every breed and apply to both gender. It needs to be said that when you're dealing with nature there are no absolutes. All of the standards must be considered estimates.

The above article & graph is thanks to The International Miniature Cattle Breeder's Society and Registry, the full article can along with additional information be found here:  MiniCattle.com 

FULL MINIATURE (42.0" and under @ 3yr.)  MID SIZE MINIATURE  (over 42.0" up to 48.0" @ 3yr.)