It is safe to say that Ben is the last miniature panda cow born anywhere in 2010. In fact, he has few peers, being a calf and one of only 24 of the scarce breed in the world. At just after 8 a.m. on Friday, on a farm east of Campion, Ben entered the world after mother Bella, a lowline Angus cow, spent a zero-degree night in labour in her stall.
Two hours later, still wet and shivering, the tiny calf snuggled against his diminutive mother. The miniature panda cow is the result of 44 years of genetic manipulation by Richard Gradwohl, a farmer in Covington, Wash., about 20 miles southeast of Seattle.
He describes the breed that he has trademarked as an eight-breed composite, drawing on previous strains of miniature cattle that he also developed. “There are 26 breeds of miniature cattle in the world, and we developed 18 of them,” said Gradwohl who has seven of the existing 24 panda cows on his Happy Mountain Farm. Miniature panda calves sell for as much as $30,000 from Gradwohl’s online clearinghouse for mini-cow aficionados. While Chris Jessen said he’ll likely sell Ben, his price has not been set.