'No bull, little Monty has a big future'
The Courier-Mail (Australia)
'MEET Monty – a little cow with a big fan club.
As a member of the Dexter breed of cattle, Monty was never going to be a giant, but when his owners Carol and Rick Elliot realised just how small he was they had to make some hard decisions.
"The dwarf gene isn't quite what we want because we're breeding for beef," Mrs Elliot said.
In the three years that the Elliots had tended and bred 25 Dexter cows on their 24ha property, they had never come across a dwarf.
The cattle, of which only the largest grow bigger than 105cm, are not bred for size but for the premium beef market.
Even so, when the couple spotted the new calf in their paddock in the Mary Valley, about 50km west of Noosa, on October 10 they knew this was something new.
Some quick research and checking confirmed they had a dwarf, which was quickly called Monty.
Just as quickly, the Elliots decided Monty's life would not follow that chosen for the rest of the herd.
Monty will be put to good use as a "lawnmower" and will be taken to local shows so children can pat him and interact with him without being scared, Mrs Elliot said. Monty now stands at the grand height of 60cm.
For a brief period after Boxing Day, when another calf, now named Boxer, was born, Monty enjoyed some time as the second shortest member of the herd.
Boxer has since grown and is already as tall – but not as well built – as Monty.
After mapping out the next 15 to 20 years of Monty's future, the Elliots were left with a decision about the future path of the breed rather than an individual.
The dwarf gene had been passed on through Monty's mother, Friday, and thoughts turned to her.
"Now we know she has got that gene it's a decision about do we risk another of her progeny carrying that gene," Mrs Elliot said.
Testing to be carried out at the University of New England will help the Elliots determine if other members of the herd carry the gene.
The latest thinking was that Friday would get one more chance to add to the herd.
If she has another dwarf, Monty will have competition again for the "smallest" title.
Whatever happens, the Elliots could not think of a better breed to own. "They're not very big cattle, but they have a wonderful personality," Mrs Elliot said.'