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
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
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
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.