AN INTRODUCTION TO DEXTER CATTLE
Dexter cattle are a small dual purpose breed, i.e. bred for both meat and milk. They are the smallest naturally occurring British breed and not a miniaturised version of a larger mainstream breed. Descended from the predominantly black cattle of the early Celts, they became a recognised breed during the eighteenth century. The first Herd-Book records were established by the Royal Dublin society in 1890.
The original introduction of Dexters into Australia occurred during the 1880's. They were seen at some Royal Agricultural Shows from 1901 until 1934 after which time they disappeared into obscurity in this country. The Dexter breed was listed for many years by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust after it was established in the UK in 1973.
During the 1980's there was a worldwide resurgence of interest in the Dexter breed. The Australian Dexter Association (now called Dexter Cattle Australia Inc.) was formed in 1987. The Herdbook currently has just over five and a half thousand registered cattle on its records.
Dexters come in three recognised colours, black, red and dun. Black is the predominant colour with dun and red being less common.
The Dexter has traditionally been a horned animal although there is now a growing number of polled (genetically hornless) animals becoming available as more and more owners breed for this trait.
There are two types of Dexter, short and non-short - sometimes referred to as short and long legged. The term short leg indicates that the animal is the carrier of a dwarfing gene (Chondrodysplasia) which is most obviously seen as a shortning of the cannon bone in the leg. Both types are considered of equal merit in the Dexter Breed Standards. Different types of Chondrodysplasia are found in other breeds of cattle but an identification test is available for that found in Dexters.
The recommended height range for a three year old Dexter (measured from ground to top of the hip), as set out in the Breed Standards is 91-112cm for females and 97-117cm for bulls.
Further information about Dexter cattle can be found at Dexter Cattle Australia Inc's website - http://dexter.une.edu.au