by Emily Carey

MIDDLEBURGH, NY – Zach Perrott’s love of cows began at a young age. At just eight years old, he began working at his neighbor’s dairy farm and his passion for cows was sparked. He always liked working with cows and around the farm, so naturally he got his own.

Living on a seven-acre horse farm with lots of space, getting a cow for her son was an easy choice. Crystal Hartman, Perrott’s mom, explained, “He’s always wanted cows and we have the room so may as well.”

Perrott described the moment that Zoey, his first cow, arrived on the trailer and how seeing her for the first time is one of his favorite memories. “She was so cool; he could do anything with her,” Hartmann said of Zoey, a full-sized Hereford. “He would be leading her around and she was just like a big dog.”

Mini cows, big plans

Zach Perrott, with Alice, the working cattle dog, leading in one of his cows, Rosie, from the field. Photo by Emily Carey

Herefords are common on farms across the country. The big red bodies and bald white faces dot pastures across the Northeast as one of the most popular breeds of beef cattle. Lately, the fad of having miniature breeds of cattle has come in vogue. People on social media and across the internet are posting pictures of adorably fluffy mini calves, fueling the desire for mini cows.

Perrott and Hartmann decided that registered mini-Herefords were the next step to keep growing the farm. However, this decision was based off the docile temperament that this breed characteristically has. “They’re an easy cow to have. They’re not fence breakers, they’re easy to keep in, they’re easy to handle, they’re all pretty much very sweet and docile,” Perrott said.

According to the Miniature Hereford Breeders Association (MHBA), “A Miniature Hereford is a full blood Hereford. They are simply not as tall as the normal, ordinary Herefords… Purebred Miniature Herefords are free of the dwarf gene and are registered with the American Hereford Association (AHA).” These mini-Herefords are easy to handle and work with. With their smaller size they require less space, making them ideal for the Hartmann’s smaller farm.

Together with his mother and grandmother, Perrott works all aspects of the farm: building and fixing fence, moving round bales and acting in all aspects as a handyman. But not only does this family have cows; they also breed and sell cattle dogs that work the cows, have a menagerie of exotic poultry and own registered Quarter Horses. You can typically spot Alice, a cattle dog, and Annie, a ranch broke cow horse, out in the pasture moving the cows.

As Perrott grew, so did his herd. Now, at 16, he has eight cows: one bull, three breeding cows, an 18-month heifer and three calves, with plans to continue growing. Eventually he hopes to be able to make more money by growing his herd and selling calves. As beef producers, the mini-Herefords mature much faster than standard breeds of cattle. Although they eat 30% to 40% less than full size Herefords, according to the MHBA, they have more ribeye per hundredweight than large cattle.

Perrott hopes to diversify his herd by adding in different breeds. He mentioned how ideally he will add in beef cattle like Angus, but the temperament that each breed has is very important in his decisions moving forward.

Currently, they are breeding their cows back to their bull to sell the calves. Hartman explained that after the calves are weaned at six months, the cows are turned back out to pasture with the bull to be bred. Perrott’s 2021 “bottle baby” Humphrey was born in July and will hopefully be shown locally in 2022 before being sold.

Perrott is also very active in his community, serving as the vice president of the Schoharie Valley FFA chapter. He also started his own landscaping business. However, the farm has always been a priority and he has been supported by his family and community in all his endeavors.