Swallow, a Dexter cow, named the world's smallest cow
We know you've been waiting on pins and needles to discover the identity of the world's smallest cow. Who hasn't? It's an exciting time for us all. So without further ado, we'll fill you in on the fact that Swallow, an 11-year-old Dexter cow who hails from Yorkshire, England, has taken the title.
Whew. The anticipation was killing us!
The little cow joins other newly named animal record holders such as Pekingese dog Puggy (owner of the world's longest dog tongue), continental giant rabbit Darius (the world's longest rabbit, measuring 4 feet, 3 inches long from nose to tail) and western lowland gorilla Colo (the oldest gorilla in captivity at 53) in the latest edition of the Guinness World Records book.
Swallow measures just 33.5 inches "from rear foot to hind," according to the folks at Guinness. (Why anyone would measure a cow "from rear foot to hind," rather than from its front foot to its shoulder, is a mystery to us, and we invite any cattle-measurement experts out there to weigh in.) That makes her shorter than most sheep and a whole lot shorter than the regular-sized bull beside her in the photo above.
Dexter cattle are known for, and in certain circles popular because of, their small size ("they appeal to the miniature/novelty and rare gene protection enthusiasts" and "are also the perfect old-fashioned family cow," according to the American Dexter Cattle Assn.). But Swallow is tiny even by Dexter standards; a normal female Dexter "should not exceed 42 inches in height nor stand less than 36 inches in height at the shoulder," the American Dexter Cattle Assn. notes.
Swallow is the mother of nine calves with the 10th on the way, and she apparently puts her maternal instinct to use with the other cows she lives with -- owner Caroline Ryder describes her as the "nanny of the herd."
Ryder and her husband, Martyn, purchased Swallow at a rare-livestock-breed auction in 2006 and approached Guinness last year about the possibility that she was the world's smallest.
See video of Swallow in action at BBC's website.
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photo: Swallow, right, next to a bull named Freddie in an undated photo provided by Guinness World Rescords. Credit: Associated Press