top of page

History of Dexter Cattle


The native home of the Dexter is in the southern part of Ireland where they were bred by small landholders and roamed about the shelter less mountainous districts in an almost wild state of nature. The first recorded knowledge of Dexters in America is when more than two hundred Dexters were imported to the US between 1905 and 1915. In recent years there has been a worldwide surge of interest in Dexter cattle. They thrive in hot as well as cold climates and do well outdoors year round, needing only a windbreak, shelter and fresh water. Fertility is high and calves are dropped in the field without difficulty. They are dual purpose, being raised for both milk and meat. Dexters are also the perfect old-fashioned family cow. Pound for pound, Dexters cost less to get to the table, economically turning forage into rich milk and quality, lean meat.


According to the guidelines-

Typical height ranges in Dexters can vary between and within the populations of carriers and non - carriers of chondrodysplasia. Both carriers and non - carriers are of equal merit. Because the ADCA does not encourage breeding especially small or especially large Dexters, breeding programs that consistently push animals to extremes in either size direction are not encouraged.

Cows: Typical range in height is 34-46 inches, with a majority in the range of 36-42 inches, measured at the hip.
Bulls: Typical range in height is 36-50 inches, with a majority in the range of 38-44 inches, measured at the hip.


Show criteria:
No comparative significance should be given in the show ring to the heights of immature animals since individual growth rates and chondrodysplasia status make it impossible to estimate final heights at maturity. Dexters can continue to grow past 3 years of age, so final mature height should not be estimated when judging animals. Each Dexter in the show ring should be judged in light of their individual merits on the day of the competition, comparing their appearance to the general breed description and taking into serious consideration excellence of conformation as a truly tri-purpose bovine and overall healthy condition. Grooming and fitting of Dexters in the show ring should not be a consideration in show placements.

Dexters come in Black, Red or Dun. Dexters are horned or polled, with some people preferring to dehorn them. A milking cow can produce more milk for its weight than any other breed. The daily yield averages 1 to 3 gallons per day with a butterfat content of 4 to 5 percent. Yields of cream up to one quart per gallon are possible. The cream can be skimmed for butter or ice cream.

Beef animals mature in 18 to 24 months and result in small cuts of high quality lean meat, graded choice, with little waste. The expectable average dress out is 50 to 60 percent and the beef is slightly darker red than that of other breeds.

No other bovine can satisfy such a diverse market.

bottom of page