This month we are going to look at one of the smallest breeds of cows in Europe. The Dexter breed originated in southwestern Ireland and can appear like a type of dwarf cow or bull. They are about half the size of a normal Hereford cow. It was brought to England in 1882. Ironically, the breed almost disappeared in Ireland, but was still maintained as a pure breed in a number of small herds in England. Mature cows weigh about 270–320kg and mature bulls weigh about 450kg. Their bodies are wide and deep with a well-rounded hindquarter. They are usually black, a dark-red or dun (a greyish brown). Their horns are rather small and thick and grow outward with a forward curve on the male and an upward curve on the cow. The breed is typically a dual-purpose type – both milk and beef. Their beef is quite expensive and much sought after, while the milk is very rich and high in butterfat. Their versatility is one of their greatest assets and probably has something to do with the number of countries Dexter cattle can be found, including North America, South Africa, Australia, and much of Europe.
They are some traditional Dexter farms around Ireland. For more information why not check out the website www.dextercattle.ie