Dexter cattle are the smallest of the European cattle breeds, being about half the size of a traditional Hereford and about one third the size of a Friesian (Holstein) milking cow. They were considered a rare breed of cattle, until recently, but are now considered a recovering breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The Dexter breed originated in Ireland.
The Dexter breed originated in southwestern Ireland from which it was brought to England in 1882. The breed virtually disappeared in Ireland, but was still maintained as a pure breed in a number of small herds in England. The Dexter is a small breed with mature cows weighing between 600–700 pounds (270–320 kg) and mature bulls weighing about 1,000 pounds (450 kg). Considering their small size, the body is wide and deep with well-rounded hindquarters. Although usually black, a dark-red or dun Dexter is sometimes found. They are always single-coloured except for some very minor white marking on the udder or behind the navel. Horns are rather small and thick and grow outward with a forward curve on the male and upward on the female. The breed is suitable for beef or milk production, although individual herd owners often concentrated on growing either one or the other.
The Dexter has always attracted attention because of its size, and it has sometimes been marketed as a novelty or ornamental breed. This practice has obscured the breed’s production value. Dexters are hardy, forage‑efficient cattle with excellent maternal qualities. As with other dual‑purpose breeds, the quantity of milk produced varies between strains; those strains that have had more dairy selection produce more milk, while those that have been selected for beef produce less. The milk produced is high in solids, making it ideal for butter and cheese production. Dexter beef is lean and high in quality. The small size of the carcass makes the breed an excellent choice for use in direct marketing programs. Dexters are good browsers and can rid pastures of some pest plants, and they may also be used as oxen.
Dexter cattle are increasing in numbers in North America and globally, and the breed seems destined to succeed. The challenge facing breeders, however, is to maintain historic selection practices so that the Dexter’s production qualities are conserved and promoted.
We are so looking forward to haveing this breed around