We bought our first milk cow in 2013 and have been thrilled to own such an amazing breed of cattle known as Irish Dexter's. We had known that we wanted a few cows for a while and when our lives didn't seem quite so busy with raising little kids, we started researching what breed to get. I got a book called the Family Cow Handbook, and that had pictures of different breeds of cattle that worked for milk cows. The picture I came across was a picture of red Irish Dexter's. Chuck Daggett was in the picture. That picture sold me and I started learning about them and really liked what I saw. A little while later, Farm Guy asked me if I had heard of Irish Dexter's. I hadn't even told him what I was checking into because I had my heart set on some miniature jerseys. They seemed more pricey than what I wanted, so when he mentioned Dexter's, I was a little bit more interested. It took a whole winter of checking into things before we found a little milk cow a few hours away. Her owners had to give her up because they had some health problems and a car accident. Four years later we are still happy with our purchase.
Irish Dexter's came from Ireland. They are the smallest dairy breed of cattle that is not a miniature of a larger breed of cattle. They are ideal for a small homestead or farm. They take less feed than a larger breed. They can be completely grass fed! They are gentle. Even the bulls are very gentle. I am not afraid of the bull that we have. But I do keep my eye on him, just in case. He is a bull after all! My kids can handle them pretty easily. The average weight of a cow is 600 to 750 pounds with bulls weighing about 1000 pounds. They do well all year round typically requiring only a windbreak for shelter. They handle the heat and frigid weather just fine. Dexter's are dual purpose meaning that they are good for milk and meat. However some people make them into tri-purpose- for oxen. How cool is that! Take them on the road for shows and you will have something that most people these day's will never see!
Dexter milk is naturally homogenized so it is easier to digest. Lots of people have been able tolerate Dexter milk when previously they were not able to. Dexter's make great milk cows because they are such a gentle breed. I thought it was pretty easy to retrain my cow even though she hadn't been milked for over 2 years. I have milked another milk cow and she stood nicely and didn't care what I did as long as I give her some ground oats.
By the way, these pictures of our first Dexter cow were taken a short while after getting her. So gentle. That being said we have had some Dexter's that are not quite this tame and docile. I would like to base my whole herd from this amazing little cow named Anna!
Dexter meat is naturally more tender and the grain is finer. Kinda amazing for grass- fed beef! We have butchered 3 Dexter steers and have been so happy with the meat. I love the kind of farming where I get to sample the product! Typically Dexter steers get sent to freezer camp around 24- 27 months and should weigh 700- 900 pounds and the marbling is just right! It's great having a breed of cattle that doesn't need to be finished on corn.
If you own a some land and are thinking about getting a milk cow or want to grow your own beef, Dexter cattle is a nice way to go!
Here's a proverb for you:
Be sure to know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds for riches do not endure forever.