The cow business has a steep learning curve and much of it is filled with people’s personal opinions on the matter. When looking to purchase our first cows I had no idea what to look for in a breed or which breeds would be superior. At the time, conventional cattle breeds were going for about twice as much as a Dexter or other “roping cattle”. So as a safe experiment we started to explore the Dexter breed.
Dexter cattle originate from southern Ireland. They are classified as a heritage breed, meaning the breed has been pretty much left as is for the last two hundred years. Dexters are one of the smallest domestic breeds of cattle that are not considered a miniature breed. They have the title of being a perfect homestead animal for people looking for small beef portions or a source of dairy. Dexters are known for beef and dairy characteristics, which makes them great animals for those just starting out. Their general small size correlates to an easier calving season as well as high butter fat content that help calves get a faster start growing.
We now have a small herd of Dexters and are planning to keep the herd as Dexter and not crossbreed or transition to a different breed. As a small producer, the small size of Dexters give us a distinct advantage to be able to manage the amount of animals we have while growing out our business and requiring less land and less feed per animal. This breed’s size also lends us an advantage when it comes to grass finishing and maintenance costs. These and many more attributes are why we will continue to grow our Dexter herd. We are eager to see how our herd matures and functions in the future as we continue to learn and enter new markets!