Dexter Cattle - Ideal Cattle Breed for Small Acreages

Published on Wed, 05/20/2009 - 8:46am

We here at the American Cattlemen have posted this article to inform you of the Dexter cattle breed. This story is brought to you by American Dexter Cattle Association.

The native home of the Dexter cattle was located in the southern part of Ireland where they were bred by small landholders and roamed about their shelter less mountainous districts in an almost wild state of nature.

The first recorded information about Dexter cattle being imported into the United States dates back to between 1905-1915.  Some of the original importers and owners of Dexter cattle living in the United States were from some of the wealthiest and well-known families.
Dexter cattle are considered a tri-purpose animal.  They are suitable for meat, milk, and also can be trained as oxen.  These animals are very hardy and they can thrive in both hot and cold climates year round needing only a windbreak, shelter, fresh water and forage.

As a bovine breed, Dexter’s can be considered one of the world’s smallest natural breeds without being breed down to their current size.  According to the American Dexter Cattle Association’s breeding guidelines, the preferred size for a mature Dexter bull may range between 38-44 inches at the shoulder and weighs less than 1000 pounds.  The ideal three-year-old Dexter cow measures between 36-42 inches at the shoulder, and weighs less that 750 pounds.  Depending on environmental conditions and breeding genetics, the height and weight of Dexter cattle could vary from the preferred size guidelines. The Dexter cattle also can be of a long legged or short-legged body structure.

As a bovine breed, Dexter’s are considered very docile and are gentle.  They can be easily taught to handle and train.  This makes it much easier for young children to train Dexter’s for showing in cattle events.
Pound for pound, Dexter’s cost less from birth to the finished product.  Economically, these animals have the ability of turning forage into rich milk, and quality lean meat.  Dexter’s may be finished on either grass or grain.  They mature in 18 to 24 months and result in smaller cuts of high quality lean meat, graded choice, with little waste.  The expected average yield is 50 to 60 percent.  The beef is slightly darker red than other breeds.  Proportions are also of a smaller size, which benefits for a healthier eating style.
With the size of Dexter cattle, fertility is high and the majority of calves are born without assistance.  Easiness of calving is a much-desired trait within this breed.
Dexter cattle come in 3 colors, black, dun, or red.  They also can be horned or polled, with some people preferring to dehorn them.  A milking cow can produce more milk for its weight than any other breed.  The daily yield averages from 1 to 3 gallons per day with a butterfat content of 4 to 5 %.  Yields of cream can be up to one quart per gallon and can be skimmed to use of making butter or ice cream.  

With these unique overall traits, Dexter Cattle are considered the perfect old-fashioned family cow.

For more information concerning Dexter Cattle, please visit the American Dexter Cattle Association’s website at: Please visit Rick Seydel's website at