Breed Status:  Recovering

Dexter Cattle

Calm Temperament

 

Small / 40" Tall / 700-900 lbs.

Horned or Polled

 

Solid and Compact / Easier on Pastures

Hardy and Thrifty / Great Browsers

Good Mothers

Exceptional Meat and Milk

 

Why Dexters?

An Obscure Breed History

A Solid Breed Purpose

This farmer found conflicting information regarding the origins and establishment of the Dexter cattle breed.  The information provided here reflects our own limited, research and our individual interpretation of the somewhat obscure, historical breed record.
 
The Dexter cattle breed originated in Ireland in the 1800s and seems to have been derived (at least in part) from a horned, rugged, Irish dairy breed known as Kerry.  Named for the region from which they sprang, Kerry cattle were beloved by smallholders and rural cottagers for their ability to survive on the sparse forage available in the barren, rugged mountains of southwestern Ireland.  
As with most regionally-evolved breeds, type variants existed in the Kerry breed.  Some Kerries were tall with long legs.  Some Kerries, often referred to as shorties, were noticeably shorter with a rounder, more compact frame. 
 
In some records, it is reported that a man named "Mr. Dexter" decided to focus on breeding the shorter variants with a goal of improving efficient meat production while retaining the ability to produce a generous amount of rich, delicious milk on coarse forage.   With this focus on breeding shorter, rounder, more compact Kerries, came a new name for the shorter variants - Dexters. Dexters soon became popular throughout Ireland and England.  [combined herdbook]
There exists within the Kerry breed a dwarfism gene.  It appears that the cattle that carried this gene were responsible for producing the shorties.  It seems that all the original shorties carried at least one of these genes.  If this was, in fact, the case, then breeding two shorties together would have been lethal - the offspring would not be viable. 
Old-time breeders would have known that breeding two shorties together produced disastrous results.  How was Mr. Dexter able to concentrate on breeding shorties if breeding them together wasn't an option? Were there non-dwarf gene carriers among the Kerry cattle that were a bit shorter and rounder than others?  Did his breeding efforts focus on breeding those shorter non-carriers to the much shorter carriers?
 
The offspring of two shorties failed to thrive.   would produce offspring that rural smallholders and cottagers, in both Ireland and England, came to appreciate the Dexters.  They were versatile, thrifty, rugged little cows that sustained their families with milk, butter, cream, cheese, and meat - they were even used as draft animals.  
Old timers knew that breeding two shorties together was a lethal combination.  The offspring of two shorties failed to thrive.   would produce offspring that There existed within the Kerry breed a dwarfism gene.  This gene appears to have been the source of the shorties
 
Records indicate that the Dexters, when imported to the US in the early 1900s, were small-sized, thrifty, hardy, and dual-purpose cattle. 

Contributed by:

Clear Morning Provisions Hughesville MD

Contributed by:

Clear Morning Provisions Hughesville MD

This farmer found conflicting information regarding the origins and establishment of the Dexter cattle breed.  The information provided here reflects our own limited, research and our individual interpretation of the somewhat obscure, historical breed record.
 
The Dexter cattle breed originated in Ireland in the 1800s and seems to have been derived (at least in part) from a horned, rugged, Irish dairy breed known as Kerry.  Named for the region from which they sprang, Kerry cattle were beloved by smallholders and rural cottagers for their ability to survive on the sparse forage available in the barren, rugged mountains of southwestern Ireland.  
As with most regionally-evolved breeds, type variants existed in the Kerry breed.  Some Kerries were tall with long legs.  Some Kerries, often referred to as shorties, were noticeably shorter with a rounder, more compact frame. 
 
In some records, it is reported that a man named "Mr. Dexter" decided to focus on breeding the shorter variants with a goal of improving efficient meat production while retaining the ability to produce a generous amount of rich, delicious milk on coarse forage.   With this focus on breeding shorter, rounder, more compact Kerries, came a new name for the shorter variants - Dexters. Dexters soon became popular throughout Ireland and England.  [combined herdbook]
There exists within the Kerry breed a dwarfism gene.  It appears that the cattle that carried this gene were responsible for producing the shorties.  It seems that all the original shorties carried at least one of these genes.  If this was, in fact, the case, then breeding two shorties together would have been lethal - the offspring would not be viable. 
Old-time breeders would have known that breeding two shorties together produced disastrous results.  How was Mr. Dexter able to concentrate on breeding shorties if breeding them together wasn't an option? Were there non-dwarf gene carriers among the Kerry cattle that were a bit shorter and rounder than others?  Did his breeding efforts focus on breeding those shorter non-carriers to the much shorter carriers?
 
The offspring of two shorties failed to thrive.   would produce offspring that rural smallholders and cottagers, in both Ireland and England, came to appreciate the Dexters.  They were versatile, thrifty, rugged little cows that sustained their families with milk, butter, cream, cheese, and meat - they were even used as draft animals.  
Old timers knew that breeding two shorties together was a lethal combination.  The offspring of two shorties failed to thrive.   would produce offspring that There existed within the Kerry breed a dwarfism gene.  This gene appears to have been the source of the shorties
 
Records indicate that the Dexters, when imported to the US in the early 1900s, were small-sized, thrifty, hardy, and dual-purpose cattle. 

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Tori Rozanski, Owner

301-643-5284

9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (M-F)

 

Located in

Hughesville, Maryland

Member

American Guinea Hog Association

American Livestock Conservancy

North American Shetland Sheep Association

American Dexter Cattle Association