|Dexters, an old breed originating from the rough country in the southwest of Ireland, are the smallest |
domestic cattle. Dexters have not been specifically bred to be “miniature,” like, for example, Miniature
Herefords. In fact, the Dexter standard specifies minimum as well as maximum heights. Selective
breeding over many years produced a small animal (700 - pound female, 1000+ - pound male) well
suited to the rigors of life in country where food wasn’t plentiful.
Even now, in our softer circumstances, Dexters are good foragers which stay in good condition on 1/3
the hay or pasture that ordinary cattle require. A place of only a few acres can accommodate a Dexter
or two, especially in regions with ample grass. If it's necessary to feed hay part of the year, the Dexter’
s size and efficiency will greatly reduce the costs. Dexter cows very seldom need help calving, even the
first time, another benefit for the first-time cow owner. The Dexter’s calm temperament and friendly
nature make it particularly desirable for small farms, where cows often become almost pets. We call
Dexters the perfect cattle for small farms.
|Dexters offer a variety of colors and styles to suit many |
tastes. While most Dexters are black with long,
beautiful horns of many different shapes, dun, Irish-
Setter-red and polled (genetically hornless) are also
popular. The breed comes in long leg (“proportionate”),
which look like any cow, only smaller, and short leg
(“dwarf’), which have very short legs, obviously, but
also other distinctive “dwarf” characteristics in head
shape and musculature. The “cover girl” cow on the
home page is a quite beautiful short leg animal.
When deliberately breeding for short leg Dexters, one
has to consider the breed’s only genetic quirk – CD,
chondrodysplasia (bulldog calf gene). Most short leg
Dexters are carriers of the gene for this disorder, a
simple recessive responsible for the short leg Dexter’s
distinctive look. Breeding two carriers results in a
“bulldog calf” on average one out of four times. Such
deformed calves show the typical “bulldog “ head with
very little bone development and are aborted late in
pregnancy. We now have a test for CD so that
breeders can know the carriers among their cows and
breed only to CD - free bulls.
Make sure you read all about the Tollgate Irish Dexters
by visiting "Our Herd".