Dexter - The Ideal Small Farm Cattle

dexter calfDexter Cattle originated in Southern Ireland. Their small size along with the ability to be used for milk, meat and draft were attractive traits the small family farm. Their ability to thrive on rocky, uneven terrain and eat brush and weeds caused a surge in popularity.
The first recorded knowledge of Dexters imported to America began around 1905. Their numbers have continued to grow over the years. Due to recent economic events and the trend towards locally, self produced or organic food, Dexters have seen a major resurgence in popularity. In fact, Dexter cattle were featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled "Cows Go Mini."  They are a very docile breed and can easily be haltered and led if handled at an early age. Cows top out at 750 lbs and bulls at 1,000 lbs.

Easy Keepers

As one of the worlds smallest bovines; they require less pasture and feed than other breeds. They thrive in hot as well as cold climates and do well outdoors year round. Fertility is high among the breed and calves are very small and hardy. In general, these small cattle have a friendly character and low maintenance costs, as well as cost-effective, high-quality production of both meat and milk in manageable quantities.

dexter cattle
Overall Appearance

Most Dexters are solid black with horns. Many Dexters are dehorned while they are still calves. Poled Dexters (born without horns) are less common, but are the most desirable. Red or dun-colored Dexters are also less common. Horns on cows are fine and curved forward. Bull's horns are thick, solid, and slightly curved at the tips. The distinctive head is short and wide between the eyes, with straight sides.

  • Most Dexters are black with horns.
  • The Dun colored Dexter is the next most common.
  • The Red is the second most common.
  • The Red Poled Dexter is the most rare.
dexter milk cow
Profitable Productivity

A milking cow can produce more milk for its weight than any other breed. The daily yield averages 1.5 to 3 gallons with a butterfat content of 4 to 5 percent. Yields of cream up to one quart per gallon are possible. The cream can be skimmed for butter or ice cream.

Beef animals mature in 18 to 24 months and result in small cuts of high quality lean meat, graded choice, with little waste. The expectable average dress out is 50 to 60 percent and the beef is slightly darker red than that of other breeds.