Dexter Cattle
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  Dexter Cattle

08/11/11

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Dexter Cattle are the cattle of the future!  They are smaller, gentler, and easier on your pastures and fences!  Their popularity continues to increase as more people are learning about this multi-purpose gentle breed.  People are fascinated with their miniature novelty and also wish to participate in gene protection of this limited breed.  As a result of their recent rise in popularity, they are becoming available in more states in the United States as well as worldwide.

  

Originally from Ireland, these little cattle have stolen our hearts.  I have been informed by an Irishman and ancient Irish breeds researcher, Mr. Patrick Curran, that the breed name "Dexter" may very well come from the old Gaeilge language.  The word for "fine" or well-proportioned is "dea" and the word for bovine is "stair" (pronounced more like "star" than "stair" in English.)  The combination "dea stair" in Irish conversation sounds very much like "dexter" in English.  Thus, the Irish sounds of "dea stair" became the English word "dexter."

Not only can a Dexter be the ideal family cow/pet, but, pound for pound, they are far more economical than their larger counterparts.  More Dexters can be grazed on less acreage; they produce high percent dressed carcass of lean, tender, fine-grained beef with excellent flavor.  as dairy cattle, their milk is easily digested and high in butterfat - yielding 1.5-2 gallons of 4% butterfat milk per day - with smaller-sized fat globules making the milk more digestible.

They are known for their ease in calving - with calves weighing 25-35 pounds at birth.  Cows can live to over 25 years - continuing to successfully calve 16-18 years or more.

They make excellent 4-H project animals because of their smaller size and their intelligence as well as their gentle nature.  They are also less expensive to maintain - about half of what would be required for a full-sized cow.

The Dexter comes in several body types ranging from short to long-legged.  The main difference is in the length of the cannon bones - about 1.5-2" difference.  The longer leg will be a small proportional cow.  The shorter leg will be slightly shorter and more heavyset appearing.

Bulls should be 38-44" at the shoulder; not more than 1200 lb.  Cows should be 36-42" at the shoulder; not more than 800 lb.  coloration is usually solid black, with red and dun found more rarely.  Most are horned although a very few naturally polled animals are becoming available.

Their ease of handling, intelligence, and hardiness make them very desirable animals to raise.  Their gentleness as well as their unusual size appeals to everyone!

Irish Dexter Cattle are listed with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

 

 

 

 

 

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This site was last updated 07/03/11

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