Dexter History

Dexter cattle are the smallest European cattle originating from South West Ireland. They are a third of the size of a friesian and about half the size of a Hereford.

The breed was kept by small landowners typically due to its size and was originally referred to as the “poor man’s cow.” its a descendent of the early Celts cattle that was typically predominantly black.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Dexter was popular with the gentry as show cattle but as time progressed the number of cattle declined, until in the 1970’s they were classed as a rare and endangered breed. Luckily, there popularity grew again and with consistent breeding they are no longer considered endangered.


Dexter Characteristics

The Dexter is a dual-purpose breed of cattle, both used as a dairy breed and a beef cattle breed. Its a hardy breed with strong maternal qualities and ample milk.

The Dexter is predominantly black but can also be red and dun. They are typically horned but there are some naturally polled.

The Dexter is a popular beef cattle breed due to its early maturing and quality flavour of beef with good marbling qualities. It also benefits from being low cost of production, easy calving, maturing young able to go to the bull around 15 – 18 months old and longevity of breeding around 14 years.

The Dexter is also a respected dairy breed with production rate dependant on whether they are used as a dairy cow, if so they are capable of yielding 10 – 12 litres a day (3050 – 3660 litres per 305 day lactation) with some cattle producing 14 litres upwards a day. Their milk is also of good quality with high butterfat and protein.

Dexter Statistics

  • Hardy
  • Small
  • Easy Calving
  • Dual-purpose cattle breed
  • Quality dairy breed
  • Quality beef breed
  • Versatile
  • Foragers – economical breed, bred to survive on low quality vegetation.

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