The Holstein steer Knickers had normal-sized parents on the farm in Western Australia. But he grew too big to go through the abattoir machinery and lives surrounded by smaller animals, attracting social media attention.
At 6 feet and 4 inches (1.95 meters ) and 2,800 pounds (1,270 kilos), Knickers the black-and-white Holstein Friesian stands taller and bigger than all the other steers on the cattle farm in Myalup, a small town in Western Australia. He is believed to be the biggest Holstein steer in Australia.
Owner of the farm Geoff Pearson said, "He was just a run-of-the-mill calf that's turned into a giant." Knickers' rapid growth meant that even by the age of 3, when most cattle go to the slaughter, he was too big to fit into the processing machinery, and escaped. He is now 7 years old.
Pearson can offer no suggestion on why he became so big: "We don't know that ourselves," he said. "It's just a freaky thing."
Male Holsteins tend not to grow more than 6 feet in height.
Theories of why Knickers kept growing focus on his pituitary gland. It should regulate growth but may have gone haywire. Otherwise, his health appears to be sound.
On social media, Knickers has been referred to as a cow, which he is not. John Masswohl of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association asked: "Is it too much to ask that people don't knowingly refer to a male steer as a 'cow?'"
Other Holsteins who grew high include 8-year-old Danniel who died this year in California of a calcium deficiency. But both he and Knickers are smaller than Italian chianina ox Bellino who has reached 6 feet, 7 inches.
Knickers will live out his life in Pearson's fields in Lake Preston, southwest of Perth. "He just hangs around, he's part of the furniture," Pearson said. "Obviously he's gained some stardom — that's changed his identity a little bit. We'll have to see what happens with that."
Australia is a relatively small beef producer with 28 million cattle raised across 200 million hectares. Its overall commercial livestock industry is one of the world's largest and includes 73 million sheep. Most beef exports go to Korea, Japan and the US.
jm/sms (AP, Reuters)