SCIENTIFIC NAME :
Bos taurus taurus
HIGHER CLASSIFICATION :
Typically 700 - 900 pounds
HORN STATUS :
usually horned, sometimes polled
The native home of the Dexter is in the Kerry region of southwestern Ireland where they were owned by small land holders. These early Dexters roamed the shelter-less, mountainous, Irish landscape in sparse living conditions, developing the hardy, thrifty characteristics that we value in the breed today. The first recorded importation of Dexters to America lists more than two hundred cattle arriving between 1905 and 1915. These original Dexter herds have grown to include Dexters in nearly every state in America. As one of the last tri-purpose cattle breeds in the world, Dexters continue to produce excellent beef, milk, and draft animals for American farms and ranches today. As breeding animals, Dexters have a high fertility rate with a low rate of calving difficulties. Dexter bulls are known for their even temperament and ease of handling. Dexter cows are typically excellent mothers, displaying the type of nurturing instincts that make them highly prized in seed stock operations.Dexters come in 3 colors: black, red, and dun. Solid colors, with occasional white on udders and/or behind the umbilicus, are the norm. Excessive white on the body, pervasive spotting, or brindling are not considered optimal. Dexters are originally a horned breed, with beautiful, sweeping, mid-sized horns that are white with black tips. Some owners of horned Dexters choose to leave the horns intact while others choose to dehorn them. Dexters can also be polled, passing-on this hornless characteristic to their offspring.
The milk produced is high in solids, making it ideal for butter and cheese production. Dexter beef is lean and high quality. The small size of the carcass makes the breed an excellent choice for direct marketing programs. Dexters are good browsers and can rid pastures of pest plants, and can also be used as oxen.
Dexter cattle are very fertile and reach puberty at a young age. Heifers can begin cycling at 14 months. Bulls can breed as early as 14-15 months.
Dexter beef is excellent quality, with good marbling. The marbling makes the flesh tender and flavoursome . A typical carcass weighs about 145-220kg, and despite their small size, they can often achieve a killing-out percentage of well above 56%. This is due to a good ratio of meat to waste products like fat and bone.