In our journey to determine the best breeds of livestock to fit the needs of our ranch, we kept coming back to Dexter cattle. While a smaller breed of cow, typically half the size of a traditional Hereford, their feed intake and pasture requirements are much lower. Below are some details on the Dexter Cattle.
The Dexter is a small breed with mature cows weighing between 600 and 700 lb and mature bulls weighing about 1,000 lb. Considering their small size, their bodies are wide and deep with well-rounded hindquarters. Dexters have three coat colors - black, red, and dun (brown). Dexters should have no white markings except for some minor white markings on the belly/udder behind the navel and some white hairs in the tail switch. While many Dexters are naturally hornless (polled), many have horns that are rather small and thick and grow outward with a forward curve on the male and upward on the female. The breed is suitable for beef or milk production, although individual herd owners often concentrate on growing either one or the other.
Dexters are classified as a small, friendly, dual-purpose breed, used for milk and beef, but they are often listed as a triple-purpose breed, since they are also used as oxen. Management practices vary by breeder and country. Their versatility is one of their greatest assets, and probably has something to do with the number of countries where Dexter cattle are found, including North America, South Africa, Australia, and much of Europe.
Beef animals in the US are expected to mature in 18–24 months and result in small cuts of high-quality, lean meat, graded US Choice, with little waste. The expected average dress out is 50 to 70%. The beef produced by Dexters is well marbled and tends to be dark.
Dexters produce a rich milk, relatively high in butterfat (4%) and the quality of the milk overall is similar to that of Jersey cattle. Dexters can reasonably be expected to produce 1.5 to 2.5 gal per day.
The cows are exceptionally good mothers, hiding their calves almost from birth if they have cover for them to hide. Some produce enough milk to feed two or three calves, and often willingly nurse calves from other cows. They are known for easy calving. This trait, along with the smaller size of the calf, has produced a small but growing market in the United States for Dexter bulls to breed to first-calf heifers among the larger beef breeds to eliminate problems at calving
Combining the rugged toughness and nice carcass of the Highlander cow with the gentle proven production genetics and great mothering nature of the Jersey breed has yielded this stunning cross. We added Bonnie to our farm earlier this year as the start to our Jersey/Highlander cross program and are looking forward to some phenomenal future calves from her, including her bull calf from this year (Pictured Below)
We will be adding new Highland genetics in the coming year to add to our existing Jersey heifers. Follow our webpage for updates as this exciting new project unfolds here at Voss Ranch.
We will be posting new updates both here and on our Blog as this project continues! Check back later for more updates!