Dexter cattle originated here in Ireland. The breed is descended from predominately black cattle used by the Celts.

History of Dexter cattle

It is widely believed that Dexter cattle are named after a Mr Dexter who spent time selecting the best and hardiest mountain cattle in Tipperary. Dexter cattle were subsequently brought over to England in the late 1800s.

By the turn of the 20th century, the Dexter was the 'show cattle' choice of the English gentry. However, by the 1970s numbers had slumped and the breed was endangered. Times have changed and this small, dual purpose breed has enjoyed a renaissance. Dexter cattle can now be found across Europe and further afield in America, Australia, Cuba, New Zealand and parts of Africa.

Dexter cows 

Dexter cows are predominately black, red or dun. While most are horned, naturally polled animals are available. 

The breed has a good temperament and cows milk well. A milk yield for a Dexter kept as a dairy cow is usually around 3000 - 3600 litres per lactation. That being said, milk yields in excess of 4,000 are possible. The milk has high butterfat (4%+) and protein (3.5%+). The milk from a Dexter cow is often compared to that of a Jersey.

Dexter cows are good foragers and able to live on low quality vegetation.

Dexter cows for beef

When used in beef production, the Dexter is early to mature. Steers can finish on grass at under 2 years of age. The beef is excellent in term of both quality and flavour. It is well marbled which adds to the tenderness of the meat. Carcass yields in excess of 56% can be achieved.

As a small breed and the Dexter is sometimes kept as a pet. Cows reach around 300 kilos in weight, mature bulls around 450 kilos. The breed is known for its easy calving. Calves weigh between 11 and 16 kilos at birth.

Dexter cattle are also renowned for their longevity. They can breed regularly for 14+ years and live for up to 25 years. The breed is efficient, hardy and versatile. 

Dexter cattle for sale and many other breeds

David Clarke Livestock has farming contacts across Europe and can supply many dual purpose breeds. These include Danish Red, Fleckvieh, Montbeliarde and Simmental.

Specific dairy and beef breeds also available. To discuss your requirements, please get in touch.