About Dexter Cattle

100_0491.JPGDexters are a true dual purpose breed of cattle, which originated in Ireland and have a long history with records dating from the 18th century. The first herd book was produced in 1890 by the Royal Dublin Society. Dexters were first introduced into Australia in the 1880's and have enjoyed an Australia-wide revival since the mid 1980's. Dexters are the smallest naturally occurring British cattle breed. The ideal height for cows ranges from 97cm to 107cm and bulls 102cm to 112cm. Dexters are usually black in colour with red and dun colours being rare. Their size makes them ideally suited to the small property owner as well as the farmer who understands that small-framed cattle are more efficient than larger framed cattle.

Dexters have the advantage of being an established and proven breed, unlike the newly developed miniature types of several mainstream cattle breeds. Dexter owners can have confidence in the breed's long history of quality and performance.

Ease of Handling

BrayerParkBaxter2.jpgDexters are renowned for their efficiency of pasture utilisations; they are one of the best converters of feed for both meat and milk. They are hardy and reflect their Irish heritage by thriving under a variety of climatic and feed situations. Even under adverse conditions, breeders find that their Dexters are able to grow and reproduce in poor seasons as well as on low quality pastures. The continuing popularity of Dexters in the small farm sector reflects the breed's character, docility and even temperament.


Beef and Milk Production

A Dexter cow average milk production is around 10 litres per day. This allows the cow to easily raise two healthy calves or to produce sufficient milk for a family. The beef produced is of excellent quality with a high bone-out percentage, providing more yield than can be seen at first glance, with their meat being tender and tasty. Dexter's breed at an early age and are long lived so they have an advantage over other breeds (both small and large) in that they become fertile at an earlier age and at a lower live weight. Cows generally continue to breed for 14 to 15 years and have been known to reproduce up to 20 years of age. Simply put, this means more calves per cow lifetime and an ability to breed more easily under difficult environmental conditions. Dexter bulls, put with large breeds of cattle, will reduce the size of calves, taking the stress out of heifer pregnancies and births.

Reprinted by kind permission of DCAI c/o University of New England Armidale


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Page last updated: 16 Mar 2009