Miniature Herefords today owe their existence to one stubborn family and over 35 years of careful, selective breeding. It all started at the Denver stock show back in 1970 when, for the first time in history, the judge was allowed to carry the entries' height/weight information in hand while judging the class. R. Rust Largent, Jr. "Grandpa" was not impressed, for in his opinion, you weren't much of a cattleman if you had to look at numbers to tell which cow was superior to the other. When the judge of that show went on to place the class strictly by height, Grandpa was so disgusted he nearly ruined his good hat! But, instead of bowing to the new fad of the time, he chose to buck the "bigger is better" mentality and continue breeding the stocky, easy keeping, small Herefords he always had.
Later that year, his son, Roy R. Largent III decided to try breeding for Miniature Herefords. Everyone else seemed to be breeding for the largest possible bovine, why not see how small the same breed could get? This idea was due in part to the rise in popularity of small acreage farms, or "ranchettes". So many people were leaving the big cities to live on 5-15 acre country homes, they would want a small, gentle animal as a pet, agricultural tax exemption status, and the more adventurous may even want to raise their own beef. The average Hereford was getting too large for one family to consume in a year, and certainly too difficult to handle without proper equipment. Also, a minimum number of cattle was usually required before agricultural exemption can be obtained. With the small acreages and limited pastureland, the large Herefords would be overcrowded. Small animals would eat far less than their modern-sized counterparts, and thrive in smaller environments.
And so, beginning with five cows and one bull, the Largents began a major breeding experiment. Of difficulties and discouragement, there were plenty. But steadily the little herd grew greater in numbers and smaller in height. In 1981 the first true Miniature Hereford bull was born. His name was LS REAL MT 3 (Herd ID# 0015) and he is present in the genealogy of almost every Miniature Hereford alive today.
During the 80's, the Largents had built up a nice herd of Miniatures, but because they were the only breeder, there were no outside genetics available to increase the numbers and quality of their little herd. Fortunately, they discovered a ranch in Kentucky that had been line breeding Herefords for over 40 years. These Kentucky cows were of the old chunky style prominent in the 60's, and were a valuable addition to the original Largent herd. An initial purchase of 20 heifers provided unrelated genetics to complement the quickly growing herd of Miniatures. Separate bloodlines or "Cow Families" were developed to ensure quality genetics even after years of close breeding. The original families are designated with a colored tag, the newer lines are designated with a letter in the ID number.
The first private treaty sale of any Miniature Hereford was in 1989. The cattle were sold to a family in Illinois who declare it was the best investment they ever made. Interest was quickly sparked, and people began to want the Minis for their own. Shows specifically for Miniature Herefords were organized, and entries competed against each other. The Largents spearheaded the growing movement, and the Miniature Hereford enthusiasts' desire to have the animals judged not merely by height but by the individual's quality, thickness, depth, stockiness and other traits that once were synonymous with the word Hereford.
Several years passed as the Largents continued to develop their unique herd. The cattle were bred primarily for quality, with the agenda of developing smaller sizes through carefully selective breeding.
LS MT OAK 6150 "Toughy" was born in 1996, and is considered the "King of the Largent Miniature Herefords". He gave balance and quality to the 000 sized cattle, and was used extensively here at Point of Rocks for many years until his death in January of 2005.
The first 0000 bull was born in 1994. LS Mt Prince 4263 was small, but he wasn't used much in the Largent's breeding program because his conformation wasn't of the superior quality the Largents preferred. One year later, two herd sires of the 0000 size were born, namely, LS Mt Oak 5050 "Half-Pint" and LS Mt Oak 5340 "Max". Both these bulls had the conformation necessary to begin breeding for the next step smaller in size.
Down though the years, the Largents have considered quality and conformation above all. Breeding for a smaller size is fun and challenging while trying to maintain that quality, and we are excited to see what tiny babies each new calf crop produces.
Be on the lookout - we will be adding to this page as we continue to write Miniature Hereford History!