The Dexter Cattle Story
Everything that is old is new again. And such is it with Dexter Cattle. Dexter Cattle
are an ancient Celtic breed of cattle; bred since at least the very early 1800's in Ireland.
There is much mythology about the breed's origins. What we do know is that Dexters originated
in Ireland, along with the Kerry, with whom Dexters were grouped indiscriminately for many years.
We know that Dexters were brought to the United States by the very early 1990's, and has always been predominately
black, although we know from paintings that the dun color has existed from the 1800's, and
that red is also, at least now, a strong minority.
Dexters are a dual purpose, small, family cow. They are a beef cow that is coveted because
of its smaller cuts of lean quality meat, which scores high on taste test of heritage and
conventional breeds. They produce milk high in butterfat content at the highest rate per pound
of any known breed. They are docile, calve easily, and are highly adaptable.
There are multiple breeder associations for Dexters in the United States, and these associations,
together with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
have increased the focus on the Dexter as a breed and have caused its numbers to recover in recent years.
The benefits of the Dexter are obvious. They are small, highly efficient, and are, therefore, a
great breed for the small farm. They were never "bred up" as were other breeds in the United States, which
generated commercial interest, and have none of the birthing and other problems associated with such breeds.
They are truly dual purpose, yielding both succulent beef and high quantities of quality milk.
These attributes have made the Dexter an increasingly popular choice, especially on relatively small farms such as ours.