Dexter Cattle breed

Breed Information for Dexter Cattle.

Dexter’s are herd animals so it is best to start with at least two animals.
If you purchase a cow with calf at foot, it is advisable to buy one already back in calf. Ask for it to be PD (pregnancies diagnosed) by a vet if possible before you collect it.

Its quite a good idea to also trying and buy a young steer to keep the cow company and when your cow has its next calf, the steer will keep the first calf company when you send your cow to visit a bull.

An alternative to buying female Dexter’s is to buy two young steers if your long term plan is to grow your own meat, and in this case try and buy a weaned calf and a yearling with the intention of replacing the older one with another young steer when you butcher the first, so you always have two animals for company. This is quite a good way to find out if you really want the long-term commitment of keeping cattle.

Choosing a Dexter.

Dexter’s can be either short or long legged and come in three colour’s red, black & dun.

Red Dexter CattleBlack Dexter CowDun Dexter Cow

The short-legged Dexter’s are the ones most commonly seen in the show ring and are the result of a recessive gene. If you decide you like the short legged Dexter’s they must be mated to a non-short bull. Mating short to short can result in a bulldog calf (deformed calves being born dead,) The mating of short to long will also result in, on average 50% of the calves being born non short.

Red Dexter Cow with calfNon short Dexter’s are much more popular with the non show people as they breed true when mated with a non short bull, also they rarely suffer in later life from arthritis which is very common in the short legged Dexter’s.Red Dexter Cattle





Buying your first Dexter.

Before you decide to buy a Dexter’s it is advisable to decide if you wish to buy a pedigree Dexter’s or a non- pedigree one. As the population of Dexter’s has grown there are a lot more Dexter’s coming onto the market, which are not registered, and this is usually reflected in the price. If a Dexter’s calf born to a registered mother is not registered in the first 30 days of its life with the Dexter’s Cattle Society it becomes very difficult and expensive to then register it. You cannot show any unregistered animals and if they are sold at a recognized pedigree sale then they will be sold at the end and the auctioneer will state that they are not registered. If you buy privately you must ask to see the registration papers of the animals you purchase and be given then at the time of the sale. If the animal is in calf you must ask for a service certificate, as you will need this to register your calf.Dexter Registration Papers

If you purchase an animal without papers you will not be able to register any of its progeny.

You will often see Dexter’s advertised in the papers these days, however I would advise you to initially contact one or two established herds to ask if you can visit and look at their animals. Buying from an established breeder will hopefully give you access to help and advice when needed and some breeders will allow you to take your females back to their bulls, or alternately advice you of a suitable bull.

You may pay a slightly higher price this way however you will have been able to view the animals in their own environment and hopefully see other members of the same family.

Buying from a Sale.

If you buy animals from a Sale they must be sold as advertised. It is always best to buy from a specialist sale. Animals sold this way will have been inspected by a member of the Dexter’s Cattle Society and any faults will be pointed out at the time of sale.
The main sale currently for Dexter’s is the Rare Breed Sale at Melton Mowbray in Leicester in Aug, however there is now one in Cumbria in Sept also. A lot of Dexter’s seen in the general cattle sales can be in poor condition and may not be the bargain they seem. However if you are prepared to take the gamble you can occasionally pick up a bargain this way.

However you choose to buy your first Dexter’s make sure you are given their cattle passports at the time of the sale and these have been filled in with the name of the person from whom you are purchasing the animal from. You must notify the BCM service within 3 days of obtaining the animals either online or by sending in a card with your herd stick on the card & the date you purchased the animals and the on box ticked.

The registration certificate if it is a pedigree animal and a service certificate if it is in calf.