Smallest Cow on Earth: 20-Inch-Tall Dwarf From Bangladesh

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Rani is a tiny moo with extraordinary dreams. A dwarf cow called Rani, whose owners demanded the Guinness Book of Records to be considered the smallest cow globally, is at a cattle farm in Charigram in Bangladesh.

The half-size heifer, which has lately become a social media sentiment, is in the process of being established by Guinness World Records as the world’s shortest cow. Rani reaches a mere 20 inches (51 centimeters) tall, implying that, once her measurements are verified, she will easily break the record set by Manikyam, a 24-inch-tall (61 cm) Vechur cow India who is the current Guinness World Record holder. She’s also really lightweight, at just 57 pounds (26 kilograms).

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One factor in Rani’s growth is her breed. Like Vechur cows, Bhutanese cows are typically referred to as dwarf cows, as individuals of these breeds are bred to be small. Dwarf cow breeds are often produced to produce large quantities of milk without expecting much food. Thus, climate can play a role in the animals’ development for dwarf cow breeds. But Rani is an exceptionally tiny example of an especially diminutive breed, suggesting that more than her breed is at play.

According to news reports, thousands of visitors are herding themselves to a small farm in Bangladesh to see what may be the world’s shortest cow. Rani, a fully developed 23-month-old Bhutanese cow, has been drawing crowds lately, notwithstanding local COVID-19 restrictions. “I have nevermore seen anything like this in my career,” told visitor Rina Begum.

Sajedul Islam is the Bangladeshi government’s chief veterinarian for the region, including Charigram, the town where Rani lives, revealed that Rani is a “genetic inbreeding” outcome and was unlikely to become any more prominent. According to Cobie Rutherford, a beef cattle partner with Mississippi State University writing in the 2015 issue of Cattle Business in Mississippi, cows are typically bred on farms using a technique called line breeding. As a result, one bull sires several generations of cows. While this kind of inbreeding serves to preserve and strengthen desirable traits, it can also exhibit undesirable features, like dwarfism.

Rani’s owner, Kazi Mohammad Abu Sufian, said Rani is as shy as she is adorable. When not pretending for pictures with her newfound fans, she favors spending much of her time alone, munching away from other cows on the farm. Unless Abu Sufian reports that Rani is a happy dwarf cow who likes to run “as fast as the rabbits we have on the farm.” According to a 1969 research published in the New Zealand Journal of Veterinary Medicine, dwarfism is well-documented in cows. 

Depending on the breed, dwarfism can head to either a shortening or elongation of the face as decreased life expectancy in affected creatures. During the 1940s and 1950s, a dwarfism termed snorter dwarfism became common among Hereford cows in the U.S. It grew an autosomal recessive trait, a gene required to be passed on from both parents to be expressed in offspring. If carried by the breeding bull, it could be silently transmitted to his calves, according to a paper published in 1950 in the Journal of Heredity. According to a factsheet on stock inbreeding for Oklahoma State University, this silent transmission becomes a problem when that same bull is bred with his daughters, often the practice with line breeding.

There’s no way to understand for sure whether inbreeding thoroughly explains Rani’s size. But, ultimately, Rani’s potentially record-setting size might very well be a result of both inbreeding and the genetics of her particular breed.