Miniature zebu are a breed of zebu cattle that were bred to be smaller than other breeds such as the Brahman.
Miniature zebu calf 3 hours old
The history of the miniature zebu goes back thousands of years, finding it roots off the coast of Southern India on an archipelago. This climate allowed the breed to develop a higher heat tolerance and insect resistance in comparison to most European cattle breeds. Their highly active sub-dermal twitching muscles and sweat glands are behind these characteristics. Their origin is important to understanding how they became the miniature size they are today. Being small in structure is beneficial when living on an archipelago, or group of islands. The closed environment can lead to interbreeding, causing a well-known side effect of stunted growth. This natural process is much different than the current system of creating miniature livestock that requires selective breeding down from larger full size species. In their homeland of India, the zebu cattle are referred to as "Nadudana" meaning small cattle. It's a descendant of the Indian aurochs like all other zebu breeds and those with partial zebu ancestry such as Sanga cattle.
The miniature zebu cattle typically are not breed for meat production. Rather, they have been raised for zoological gardens, junior rodeo shows, breeding farms, show, producing milk and even to keep as pets. The Brahman look is important to the rodeo business and makes this breed an excellent option for the juniors. An average miniature zebu cow can produce one gallon of milk per day that is rich in butterfat. In 1893, several of the miniature zebu cattle appeared at the Chicago World's Fair. This is considered the first time the breed arrived in the United States.
Male bulls are typically larger than female cows, reaching 400-600 pounds and 300-400 pounds respectively. The animal must be under forty-two inches or three and a half feet tall (measured at wither point) at time of full development. It takes almost three years for a miniature zebu to reach full development. Colors range in black, red, white and steel gray. A common feature for the male bull to have is a well-developed black shaded hump. The zebu cattle resemble the Brahman look with a few exceptions. The ears are erect, not pendulous, and sprout small to moderate sized horns. Newborns are only 18-22 pounds and 16-18 inches tall.
The origin of the miniature zebu makes them compatible to being raised in warm or hot weather. During the winter season or any cold weather they require shelter. The small size of the breed generates less stress on the supporting environment and is easier on the caretaker's equipment and fences. Their diet consists of mostly hay and grain. If cared for properly, the life expectancy can be around twenty to twenty-five years. Furthermore, their origin keeps them immune to most tropical diseases.