According to the Dexter Cattle Society, "The Dexter originated in the South Western region of Ireland. Like the Kerry, they are descended from the predominately black cattle of the early Celts... the breed owes its modern appearance, name, and probably qualities to a Mr Dexter who came to Ireland in 1750 and made his home in Co Tipperary...Dexter cattle were first introduced into England in 1882."
Because of their small size, ease of handling, hardiness, and docile nature, Dexters have quickly gained popularity as livestock as well as pets and farm companions. As a dairy cow, they are the most productive relative to their size, delivering an average of 2 gallons per day with 4.1% butterfat content.
Appearance / health:
The Dexter is the smallest British breed of cattle and one of the smallest bovines in the world. Standing at an average of only 44 inches at the shoulder, the Dexter has two varieties: the short-legged regular Dexter and the long-legged Kerry type. Both varieties are sometimes seen from the same lineage.
Dexters are solid-colored –- black, brown, or red. White markings are sometimes present on the udder, the tail switch, or the belly just behind the navel. They may be horned or polled. If horned, the horns are usually white with black or brown tips.
Like other livestock, cattle require regular vaccinations and inoculations (for example, rabies inoculations) for disease prevention and health management. Similar to other mammals, cows can suffer a variety of ailments and health issues. A veterinarian should be on call and provide regular checkups and monitoring for the entire herd.
Behavior / temperament:
Cattle are docile animals that have strong maternal instincts. They are big and bulky, and could, therefore, inflict harm without intending to. Handling and brushing them constantly while juvenile will help train them to be calm and trusting around humans, which is helpful especially when they need to be attended to by the veterinarian or groomer.
Housing / diet:
Housing for cattle is essentially to give them shelter from extreme weather conditions. Barns, rub-in sheds, stalls, and other structures like windbreaks, should be available where the cows graze. Aside from manmade shelters, trees and tall bushes can provide resting places for cattle to minimize heat stroke or wind chill.
Shelters will give the cows the option to seek safe haven from strong winds, extreme heat or cold, and heavy rains. Shelters should be strong, stable, spacious, well ventilated, and waterproof. Barns should be provided with water supply, and stalls should be lined with hay. They should also be cleaned regularly.
Sprinklers and other cooling systems are recommended for areas that overheat during summer months. Professional and humane fencing should be provided. All poisonous plants should be removed from the pasture; and hay should always be kept dry (wet hay grows molds, becoming a health hazard for cows).
A good quality pasture for grazing is the basic dietary requirement of cattle. The recommended pasture size per cow is 10 acres, without which, the diet should be supplemented with hay. The recommended quantity of hay is an average of 2% of the animal’s body weight per day (or 2 lbs. of hay per 100 lbs. of body weight). Supplements include grain mixes, protein and mineral cubes, and salt blocks, depending on the type of cow, its uses, and the local climate.
Providing a constant supply of fresh water is essential. An adult cow consumes an estimate of up to 20 gallons of water per day.
excellent carcass quality, small holding, mellow temperaments, good grass conversion, dual purpose breeds
general auction invironment, restricted market, commercial farming models
brush clearing, cross breeding, talllegged dexters, fascinating irish history, non short type
Irish Dexter Cattle Group
We are a newly formed group who have come together to promote the Dexter. We are growing all the time and welcome anyone who wishes to join the group.
I am the secretary of the group and I am very passionate about the small cow. As a women with a young family I wanted a house cow for the family and have been very happy with my Dexters. They are totally at ease with all the different kinds of animals I have and the kids. They crave attention and can be heard calling from the time I go out the back door. We are awaiting our second set of calves from our two cows to join last years. Both cows calved no problem last year in fact they were so quick I missed both births. I hope this year goes as well. They are very easy to handle and would be a great cow for a small farm or a teenager who wants to start out with cattle. They can survive hash weather and prefer to be outside and do very well on even the roughest of land. There are two types, short and non short. The only thing you have to be careful of is not to mate two short legs together as you could end up with a bulldog calf (deformed). I AI and have had no problems with getting them into calf. I would totally recommend anyone who is interested in cattle to give the Dexter a try and dare you not to fall in love with this very endearing cow!
From Crossayle Dexte Apr 14 2012 1:32PM
Dexter cattle are a smaller version of the black Angus cattle. We have been farming them for 10 years and could not think of a more docile beast. Of course, like people, you can get a very cranky one, But these are rare indeed.
The main color with Dexters is black, but now and then a dun or a dusty gold will appear. Over the years, the natural horns are slowly being bred out, but in the main, they continue to large rather big horns for their size and a lot of people who dislike horns on their beasts settle for de-horning them at an early age.
The only problem we found with them is they are sexually mature at about 5-6 months of age. The bulls will indulge in their main bad trait of being escape artists. We have had several who met a sticky and permanent end because we could not find a way to keep them in their paddock. The worst part about that was the glee with which they greeted us when we went with feed to bring them home. They will follow like little dogs.
They are also natural milkers and it is rare to find a cow which will not stand eating food while you milk. Some are almost as good as the traditional milkers such as Jerseys and Guernseys. The meat is flavoursome and tender And, as long as the bull is under 1 year old, you do not need to turn it into a bullock to eat it..
From expertwriter Nov 21 2014 12:37AM
Taming Dexter Steers
My sister and I showed cattle for 4-H and for a year we tried out Dexter Cattle. We both had a nice black steer to tame and train. Piece of cake. Been there, done that. Not with Dexter Cattle we hadn't. It ended horribly. They were unruly, violent, and went out of their way to kick at people and attack them. They were down-right vicious. Now, I'm sure not ALL Dexter's Cattle are like this, but my expeiriance with them was aweful. All other cattle breeds we showed were just fine, but these were so bad I ended up not being able to bring a steer to the fair. We returned them to the original seller.
I understand animals aren't always the same within a breed, but this is what I think about Dexter's Cattle.
From Thirina Dec 31 2009 11:23AM