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Dexter Cattle

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The basics:
Dexter Cattle are one of three remaining indigenous Irish cattle breeds, the others being Irish Moiled Cattle and Kerry Cattle.

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."

Uses:
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.

wonderful

excellent carcass quality, small holding, mellow temperaments, good grass conversion, dual purpose breeds

challenging

general auction invironment, restricted market, commercial farming models

interesting

brush clearing, cross breeding, talllegged dexters, fascinating irish history, non short type

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