Texas Dexter Breeders Association

Dexter Articles


Today's cattle breeders and ranchers have an exciting new option to consider whether they are seeking to simplify their daily livestock chores, find a breed which is easily maintained on small acreage, raise a breed of livestock which is an environmentally-responsible grazer, or discover an early maturing market-niche natural beef. The answer to these goals is Dexter Cattle.

Originating in Ireland in the 1800s, Dexters are a dual-purpose breed, capable of providing milk and meat. The smallest of the British breeds, their humble beginning was as a hardy, small mountain grazer that not only could navigate steep slopes and wet terrain, but also graze on a wide range of forage including scrub plants and weeds. The amazing ability of the Dexter is that it converted this "poor" forage into rich milk and delicious meat. In fact, in The Life and Times of Dexters, A History of the Dexter Breed, by Ted Neal, the Dexter was defined "as a quaint-looking little domestic cream ewer; and both as the crème de la crème of the dairy, and bonne bouche of our 'English roast beef'." Dexters produce a rich milk with a relatively high butterfat score (3.5% to 4%) and protein score (3.5% to 3.74%) at a level of 2 to 2.5 gallons/day. The Dexter yields a tender and excellently flavored beef with a choice level of fat marbling and small joints.

As the second half of the 19th century arrived, England began importing the rare Dexter breed and simultaneously elevated its status from the poor peasant's cow to a show cow on the country estates of English landholders. In 1920, it was reported that the "Dexters are especially admired by ladies", another historical link which has continued through the breed's history. Contributing to this trait is the Dexter's small size coupled with their docile temperament. Thus, when started at a very young age, the calves can be halter-broke and trained on a lead rope.

In the United States today, the Dexter primarily is shown in open shows under the category of "other breeds." However, because Dexters are the fastest growing small cattle breed in the country, livestock shows such as the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo have invited the Dexters to show as its own individual breed. Both the 2006 and 2007 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo featured the Dexter breed as a category. A highly successful youth scholarship fundraising campaign within the State of Texas for American Dexter Cattle Association youth exhibitors provided substantial 2007 financial scholarship prizes to strengthen the future of Dexter cattle through youth competition. In addition, during the 2007 event, one of the Houston major television networks featured our Dexters and their breeders/exhibitors on the news.

The Dexter cattle may be one of America's best-kept secrets. If you desire additional information about this breed, we invite you to contact the Texas Dexter Breeders Association at 830-796-3424, info@texasdexterbreeders.com, or Texas Dexter Breeders Association, 1204 A East Main St., Gatesville, TX. 76528.

(Article by Kathy Giles, submitted to the American Livestock Magazine & Publishing, Winter 2007 edition)

Call us @ 830.796.3424 or e-mail: info@texasdexterbreeders.com