Little cows become Fruita man’s big hobby |

Little cows become Fruita man’s big hobby

Sharon Sullivan
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the dailyTony Hopper grooms a miniature Hereford at his place near Fruita.

FRUITA ” Tony Hopper was happily retired from being a professor, and enjoying days of running around the desert with his German Shepherd when he said to the dog, “If we love the country so much, what are we doing living in a condominium in Grand Junction?”

So Hopper bought three acres in Fruita.

He wanted to raise animals ” small animals. He considered pygmy goats and miniature horses. Then he saw an ad in “Hobby Farmer” magazine for miniature cattle. In April 2003, he bought three miniature Herefords and one young bull from the KP Ranch in Nebraska.

“They do less damage to the property, they weigh less, and eat a third less feed,” Hopper said. And they’re cute.

Rusty colored with white faces, miniature Herefords are often kept as pets. On his 17-acre hobby farm, which he calls Little Mooo Miniature Cattle Ranch, Hopper has five cattle, three of which he keeps for breeding stock, the other two are for sale.

Last May, Hopper married Nevelle Stewart, and the two of them raise a slew of other animals including five pygmy goats, five African geese, three Rouen ducks, a burro named Jenny, two dogs, and a “whole bunch of house, barn and garage cats.”

His doctor doesn’t ask Hopper anymore if he’s getting enough exercise. Hopper’s days are active enough, feeding animals, breaking ice in the water troughs, and mending gates, fences and feeders.

Many people raise or purchase miniature cattle for their low fat, tender meat. They’re perfect for six- to eight-ounce steaks, and one miniature cow will fill up your freezer, said Hopper.

Hopper doesn’t claim his meat is totally organic ” he does give them vaccinations ” but unlike most commercial beef his miniature cows are free of growth hormones.

Hopper is a Vietnam veteran, and a former professor at the University of Colorado and other colleges where he taught marketing, management and economics. He’s the cow lover.

Nevelle is a retired insurance investigator and loves the other animals.

“I’m 65, basically retired and I needed a purpose in life. There’s no greater purpose than to have to go out twice a day, feed them, scratch them and talk to them. Every day, every animal will give you a new story.” Hopper said. “I’m living my dream.”

Hopper is working on a Web page: People interested in checking out the miniature cows are also welcome to call or stop by the ranch, located at 1441 17 1/2 Rd. Little Mooo Ranch can be reached at 970-858-3986.

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