Early Dexter Cattle were selected from the
indigenous breeds found in the kerry area of
Ireland in the early1800's. They were originally
bred to be a "cottage cow" providing households
of small landholders with their supply of milk and
calves for beef. The Dexters' Popularity
increased, and by 1905, Dexters were exported to
Brittan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the
United States and Canada.
Today, Dexters are classified as a rare breed
(Watch Status) in the United States by the
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. There
are also two U.S. registries dedicated to
preserving the integrity of the Dexter Breed and
maintaining herd records; The American Dexter
Cattle Association (ADCA), and The Purebred
Dexter Cattle Association of North America
(PDCA). Our Cattle are currently registered with
both the ADCA and the PDCA. Links to these
organizations can be found on our links page.
There are strains of polled and horned Dexter
Cattle which naturally occur in three colors;
black, red, and dun. The dun color (varied hues of
blond and reddish brown) is unique to Dexter
Cattle. They are always solid in color with
occasional white spotting on the utter or mid-line.
DNA Coat Color testing is required to register
red Dexter Cattle in the U.S.
The most notable characteristics of Dexter
Cattle are their size and their dual-purpose
production. Dexter Cattle are the world's
smallest naturally occurring breed of cattle and
are thrifty producers of both high quality milk,
and tender, lean beef.
Dexter Cattle have not been "miniaturized," but
developed a naturally small efficient frame to
thrive in their native Ireland on scarce resources.
At maturity, Dexter cows will reach a height of
about 38-44 inches at the shoulder, and a weight
around 750 pounds. Dexter bulls mature between
40-46 inches and weigh approximately 1000
pounds. Dexter Cows can produce 1-2 gallons of
4% butterfat milk daily and bulls will reach 250
pounds lean carcass weight in a year. Dexters are
efficient in their production and will produce 2/3
the milk and beef of larger breeds on about half
the feed. Many farms have also used Dexter
Cattle steers as draft animals, which
demonstrates the extremely versatile nature of
the breed and an additional triple-purpose.