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Visitors to this year's AgVenture, a section of the Livestock Show designed to educate kids about the purposes of different livestock and crops in Texas agriculture, will have the chance to explore a new exhibit called We're Small Y'all Barn, which showcases miniature livestock.
These full-grown but tiny animals, among them miniature burros, cows and goats, will be displayed in six pens with 360-degree visibility in a smaller barn alongside the Breed Row Barn, where interns and volunteers will teach visitors about each breed.
Asked for the reason behind the addition of these pint-size farm animals, Elizabeth Greer, the Livestock Show's executive director of exhibits and attractions, says, "The idea is to introduce kids to what they look like and what they do in the agricultural industry. Plus, they're darn cute."
Cute as they are, these animals are only halter-trained and cannot be petted. As working farm animals, they range in purpose from milk and meat production to service and companionship. Their inclusion in the exhibit reflects a recent trend in local hobby farms, where smaller herds serve a practical economic purpose.
"Their size allows people to farm on smaller plots of land with less feed. Three miniature Herefords will eat the same amount of feed as the average full-size Hereford," Greer says.
That same logic is applied to the exhibit, where several specimens can share the same pen, allowing visitors to see a wider variety of breeds without sacrificing space.
The exhibit is open every day during the Livestock Show and Rodeo's run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and rodeo officials expect it will attract large crowds of kids and adults alike.
"People gear toward the mini and the cute," Greer says. "Our only concern is that we don't have too many parents calling in to complain about how their kids want a pygmy goat because of us."