Curious and friendly, the Irish Dexter could be your ideal cow for many reasons. Dexters are raised from Florida to Alaska and are adaptable to virtually all climates. They do well in the heat of Texas and, because of their dense winter coats, they thrive in the cold of Wisconsin winters with minimal shelter.
Dexters are dual purpose animals that are raised for both milk and meat. Dexter cows produce 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 gallons of milk per day with 4%-5% butterfat. Dexter steers are typically between 750 and 850 pounds at harvest. Their hanging weight, (also called carcus weight) is usually 55%-57% of their live weight. Actual butchering/packaging directions will make a diffenence to the final amount of meat received. Because Dexter cattle are smaller than many beef varieties, a 24 month old steer will typically provide 300-350 pounds of meat for your freezer. Definitely a more family friendly amount than common larger breeds produce. Dexters are known for their tasty meat.
Dexters fit on small acerages as they only need 1/2 to 1 acre of good grass per animal for grazing. This makes them an excellent choice for people with minimal space. Being smaller and lighter than the typical cow, Dexters are easier on the terrain and forage than their larger cousins. They are gentle, curious and easy on fences. Dexters thrive on grass without needing added grain. Studies indicate this grass-fed beef can produce more omega-3 fatty acids than grain fed beef, making it more heart healthy. For individuals who want to know where their beef comes from and how it was raised, the Dexter may be just the right choice.
Dexters can be black, red, or dun in color. They may be horned or polled (without horns). The breed is not miniaturized or miniature. It is naturally small. Adult cows are typically 36-42 inches tall at the shoulder and up to 750 pounds by 3 years old. While the bulls are usually 38-44 inches tall and weigh up to 1000 pounds. For a complete description of the breed standard please see either Purebred Dexter Cattle Association or American Dexter Cattle Association (under the Education tab).
Whether you are looking for a project for your child, a hobby for yourself, freezer meat, or an attractive alternative to the lawn mower, consider the Dexter. You won’t be disappointed.