PDCA - One Blog

Welcome to the first Dexter cattle blog to disseminate information for members of the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America (PDCA) and for those with a curiosity about Irish Dexter cattle, cattle in general, as well as news from the PDCA. Expressions of opinion are to not be regarded as expressing the official opinion of the PDCA unless expressly stated. Hopefully you will find something here of interest and don't overlook browsing through the archives. Comments are welcomed.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

PDCA - Region One

Lucy Werner of Lake County, Illinois, shows off her prize-winning Dexter cow, Princess Pride.

Monday, August 30, 2004

PDCA Memberships Surge

Approximately 100 more PDCA memberships came in just this past week.
Thank you!

If anyone needs a membership form let me know, or you can print one out from the PDCA Website.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

PDCA Rules/Regs

Some of you may have seen the interim outline for the PDCA By-laws and Rules and Regulations. These are coming along very well, with revisions being made to the original draft in order to make any necessary language adjustments and to incorporate new ideas and suggestions. Once completed they'll be in your hands in time for you to review and if satisfactory, you'll vote on these in the upcoming elections. So I wanted you aware that this is a process and that it's proceeding smoothly.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Busy today...

...although not working this hard:

Dexter cattle ploughing.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Outside the Region they're...

Rearing to go -

For centuries, British Beef was quite-rightly regarded as the best beef in the world, although recent BSE and foot & mouth crises have somewhat dented that polished image. However, there are many responsible beef producers in the UK who are putting the pride back into British Beef - and Penny Hodgson is one such cattle breeder.

Penny farms 28 acres of lush lowland meadow in the Vale of York with her husband Geoff, just outside the picturesque market town of Easingwold. The land here is ideally suited to cattle rearing, and the farm is home to a herd of sixty-plus pampered, pure-bred pedigree Dexter cattle, under the watchful eye of her prize-winning bull, Killis Lane Arkwright.

Dexters are small black, red or dun hill cattle originally from the mountains of Ireland that first made an appearance in England in 1882. Today, these small hardy cattle are found in many areas and are a particular favourite of the smallholder. They are fast being introduced into environmentally sensitive areas of Britain, but far more importantly, they are gaining a growing reputation for the quality of the beef they produce.

As this fact is becoming more widely known, the demand for Dexters is growing accordingly. Dexters were once an endangered breed, but numbers are now on the rise due to their popularity as an ideal breed for low-input, finest quality beef products. It was with this in mind that Penny decided to concentrate her efforts on breeding, rearing and finishing Dexters in order to produce the best quality British beef available anywhere in the country.

Top quality Beef Cattle

Penny and her family only moved to Easingwold 1Ā½ years ago, where they re-built their Dexter herd after losing their first herd during the foot & mouth crisis in a contiguous cull. Today, the Thornhill herd includes a large number of suckler cows with calves, and as many steers as the land will comfortably take, being finished for beef. Penny is now gaining a well-earned reputation for naturally reared top-quality beef cattle and for successfully marketing that prime beef profitably.

As Penny says, "We let our animals lead as stress free a life as possible, with plenty of room to graze in comfort, with any additional haylage and silage coming only from our own fields. I can closely watch what my animals eat, from the milk they suckle at their mother's udder, right the way through to when they finally go to the butcher. I know that the beef I produce is free from any additives or unnatural foodstuffs. This is what I mean by 'full traceability'." Natural and happy life

Once a calf is born it lives a natural and happy life with the rest of the herd in the fields around Easingwold, under the watchful eye of the White Horse of Kilburn. Annie is the current matriarch of the Thornhill herd, and this placid cow ensures that the youngsters enjoy a happy life on the farm. All of Penny's cattle have names and, although this might seem somewhat strange considering where some will end up, Penny firmly believes that by pampering her friendly cows they will lead contented lives, and produce tasty beef as a result.

Such attention to detail and painstaking care to feed her Dexters only on what cattle would eat naturally means that the risk of infection or illness is kept to an absolute minimum. It is no coincidence that no Dexter anywhere became infected with foot & mouth, nor were there any cases of BSE amongst Britain's Dexter herds. Dexter beef, therefore, can legitimately claim to be pure and untainted. Full traceability through double-tagging is now in place and recent government legislation should ensure that Dexter beef remains clean, pure and disease-free.

The natural cycle of a cow is about nine months, and each year Penny reckons on producing about twenty calves, while Killis Lane Arkwright, or Archie as he is fondly known, also serves other Dexters brought into Thornhill Farm by those wanting his expert services. Of the Thornhill heifers, some are kept for breeding whilst others are sold on. The bull calves are castrated and kept for beef. After about 24 months the average steer has hopefully reached a weight of around 400kg, at which time they will be taken down the road to Tholthorpe, where the next stage in the process takes place.

Coincidentally, there is currently a European Commission Research Project looking into the production of healthier beef. The bureaucrats in Strasburg have finally cottoned on to what beef producers like Penny Hodgson have known for many years, and that is that the consumer wants healthier, tastier beef that is fully traceable. The EU report states, "the research will offer added value to the consumer in terms of a more healthy and wholesome food produced using methods, which are safe and more natural, based on local breeds and feed resources. The producer will also benefit by adapting strategies to produce more healthy and natural beef, which may command a premium in the market." However, it is of some concern as to whether this 'research' will include creating unnatural feedstuffs, or whether it will rely on the most natural of products, grass.

The Dexter is probably the finest breed of cattle for conservation areas, and is a very thrifty breed, capable of producing top quality beef from a variety of marginal habitats, meaning there is less poaching of land.

Dexters produce traditionally reared beef that is fine-grained and marbled, and as such is much sought after by the discerning connoisseur who wants to be sure of natural, wholesome production.

Care in the rearing and finishing of Dexter steers ensures that happy, healthy and hearty animals leaves Penny's pretty farm in Easingwold en route for the dinner table.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

PDCA Business Card

(My unofficial rendition)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

PDCA Promotional Items

The PDCA brochures were completed just in time for a couple of upcoming Dexter events in other regions. I've been thinking about PDCA promotional items today and I've come up with a couple of ideas. Let me know if you have a promotional idea because the more ideas we throw on the table the more choices we'll have to select the best ones at this time from.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Welcome to the PDCA

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, August 23, 2004

PDCA Brochures

The PDCA brochures have been printed. These will be sent out along with a PDCA membership list to inquiries. We can also distribute the PDCA brochures at regional Dexter events. When I get a copy I'll try to give you a glimpse of what the new PDCA brochure looks like by posting an image here if I can.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Hurricane Charley in Florida

Ginny Miles reports that while their Dexters survived the hurricane okay, Mattie Hughes, 85, and her daughter Martha McKenzie and family had extensive damage to their houses, barns and fences. Mattie is still without electricity and Martha's daughter Alyssa is staying with friends. Alyssa has won ribbons showing her Dexters with 4 - H. A fund has been set up for the families and if you would like to assist these fellow PDCA members, send your donation to:

Mattie Hughes and Martha McKenzie
c/o Frank Miles
3837 Douglas Ferry Rd
Bonifay, FL 32425

Friday, August 20, 2004

PDCA State Representatives

If you're a Region One member and would be interested in serving as your state's representative now is your chance to volunteer, so get in touch with me at Rchar@toast.net What this would involve in the beginning is being willing to be your state's contact for Dexter breeders and Dexter inquiries in your state and getting in touch with other breeders to provide information about the PDCA. The September 15th deadline will be here soon and so I hope everyone takes advantage of the lower membership fee and free grandfathering of their Dexters into the PDCA registry. This also provides them membership input and the opportunity to vote in the November PDCA elections. I'm going to be doing some PDCA recruiting this weekend and I hope that wherever you live you'll join me. Thanks.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Science predicts quality of cattle

By Billy Skaggs
Ultrasound isn't just for helping parents decide whether to buy pink or blue baby clothes.

Now it's helping cattlemen provide better steaks. It's giving them a look at beef cuts long before their animals head for the stockyard.

"The success of beef producers depends on their ability to provide high- quality, consistent end- products to consumers," said Dean Pringle, University of Georgia animal scientist.

Many management practices help farmers improve beef quality. But ultrasound is one of their most effective means. It has been around since the 1950s, Pringle said, but farmers have embraced fully it in the last five to 10 years.

"Real-time ultrasound can be used to measure various carcass traits in live animals," he said. "You can measure an animal's intramuscular fat percentage in the ribeye and, from that, predict its marbling score and USDA quality grade."

Ultrasound can give farmers estimates of the ribeye area, back fat, rump fat and the percentage of intramuscular fat in the ribeye. The process is harmless to the animal, he said.

After placing a probe on the animal's back, sound waves penetrate its tissues. They then reflect off the boundaries between hide, fat and muscle layers.

"As the sound waves reflect back, a cross-sectional image is created (and) displayed on a computer monitor," Pringle said. "Ribeye area and back fat are measured between the animal's 12th and 13th ribs. These traits are highly related to the retail product yield."

As the fat measurements increase, they have a negative effect on the yield of beef cuts. An increase in the ribeye area, though, creates a positive effect, he said.

By enabling farmers to predict meat quality, ultrasound is helping them select their best breeding stock. Before ultrasound, cattlemen evaluated a sire's carcass merit by studying the carcass quality of the animal's offspring.

Ultrasound can give farmers enough data on their bulls and heifers to decide rightly when to cull cattle from their herds.

"Culling decisions need to be based on a combination of reproduction, growth and end-product," he said. "Ultrasound offers a means to accurately measure the latter."

Ultrasound carcass traits are considered highly inheritable, he said. "So now selection of bulls and replacement heifers can be based on these traits," he said, "and producers can bring about genetic change in their calves."

Cattle Issues - Bush Kerry Comparison

Nothing new to report at the moment and so for the politically inclined, since it is the season, here's a link to Cattle Issues - Bush Kerry Comparison

If Kerry wins we should point out the long history of Dexter and Kerry connections. Perhaps we could suggest having Dexters graze the Whitehouse lawns. Their horns might be a terrorist deterrent although Dexters docile temperaments might work against them in providing homeland security although they could provide the milk and beef.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

PDCA Regions

Here are our Five regions:

Regional Manager Region One - Richard Henry
Region One:

Regional Manager Region Two - Wes Patton
Region Two:

Regional Manager Region Three - Susie Hensrude
Region Three:
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan,Manitoba

Regional Manager Region Four - Frank Miles
Region Four:

Regional Manager Region Five - Kathy Smith
Region Five:

Closing the Deal

I'm one of those people that have never been particularly fond of the selling aspect of raising cattle. Part of it is sentimental, I get attached and want to see how they grow up and then there's the not knowing where they're going to. I realize that's foolish because you can't keep every puppy in the litter no matter how cute they are, and the people I've sold Dexters to have always seemed nice and may have spoiled them more than I do. The other part for a dislike of sales is that I tend to be overly critical of my herd and so I end up pointing out the flaws I see more than the attributes. So for myself I'm not a great cattle salesperson.

However, I do love promoting the breed. That's part of the reason I put my website back up, purebred promotion. The other part is that I now have the motivation to utilize whatever marketing and promoting talents that I might possess to help benefit Dexter breeders that have put their faith in the PDCA. So with your help in closing the deal, together I believe we can meet the challenges ahead for Dexter cattle. I have this feeling that we're all going to be a part of something special.

Add 12 more PDCA memberships since yesterday.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

PDCA Memberships

Preliminary reports are that memberships are going well and continuing to arrive at PDCA Headquarters at a steady pace. So whatever list I get today is obsolete tomorrow, which is good. I'm happy to report that Region One has representation now in every state except Indiana. There's no daylight savings time in Indiana, and so those Hoosiers timing might be a little different than some of the rest of us right now. For having been in existence only 4 weeks I'd say the PDCA is doing very well. Some feel membership in the PDCA could reach 400 to 500 members a year from now. My goal is to have enough members so that if each state has a Dexter gathering with a potluck picnic, we'll be sure to have a good variety and plenty of food. So if you've bought or sold Dexters from someone, please give them a call and introduce them to the PDCA. I'm going to have to get busy now composing and sending out thank you letters to all of those in Region One that have already joined. For those of you that have joined and are reading this, thank you.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Next Blog

Blogger here came out with an option to replace the ugly banner advertising at the top. The only problem with the replacement is the "next blog" option. It seems to be random generated and so I'm a little worried someone might click on it thinking that it will take them to another cattle blog. Instead they might end up being shocked if they find themselves in some teenage nightmare of a diary. So chances are you won't find a cattle blog with the next blog option so beware and aware of that.

Region One - PDCA Dexter Exhibit

There will be Dexter cattle exhibited at the 12th National -
Small Farm Trade Show & Conferenceā„¢
November 4-6, 2004

Boone County Fairgrounds, Columbia, Missouri
(heated exhibition hall)
For more information about the largest annual small farm conference and trade show in the United States, call 800-633-2535 or visit the

Small Farm Today website.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

No More Lazy Little Monkeys

When I was reading this article I was thinking that this may be true for cattle breeders. We work harder when the rewards are close at hand, for example, those that might milk daily. Whereas, when it comes to filling Dexter milk pails in the future we may sometimes be guilty of procrastination. Maybe science has found a cure.

BBC - Scientists in the United States have found a way of turning lazy monkeys into workaholics using gene therapy. Usually monkeys work hard only when they know a reward is coming, but the animals given this treatment did their best all the time... Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health near Washington DC, led by Dr Barry Richmond, have now developed a genetic treatment which changes their work ethic markedly.

"Normal monkeys and people procrastinate - tend not to work very well when they have a lot of time to get the job done, and work better when the reward is nearer in time," Dr Richmond says. "The monkeys under the influence of the treatment don't procrastinate."

The treatment consists of blocking an important brain chemical - dopamine. After about 10 weeks it had worn off, and the monkeys were back to their usual unmotivated selves.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Take A Look

The PDCA Website is open for your inspection. While it's still a work in progress, please take a look and send your comments and suggestions to Gabriella Nanci - BelleFourche@aol.com . Gabriella along with Rebecca Perez have put a lot of work into it and for that I have a comment: Thank You.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Looking Good


Thursday, August 12, 2004

What's Going On?

The PDCA website is progressing and will be adding the registration forms. The brochure is in the final stages, letterheads have been designed, membership lists are being compiled, and advertisements are being developed by a collaboration of people. Here's a tentative schedule of which the newsletter will probably have more details:

Newsletter out to the membership by September, 2004.
Charter Memberships good through September 15, 2004.
Nominations due to Donna Martin by October 15, 2004.
Election - collection of votes by November 10, 2004.
Results tallied by November 20, 2004.
New Officers start December 1, 2004.

There's probably lots of other business details and items that I've forgotten to mention but this will give you a general idea of what's going on.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Building A Breed Association & Goals

Building a breed association is in some ways like building a house. On the weekend of July 17, 2004, a group of Dexter breeders worked late into the evenings drawing up plans for the formation of the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America. Out of these meetings came the rough drafts, the basis of which is a Dexter association by and for the membership. So we now have the first blueprint which you as the members that will be living in this house, can view and work with the architects on. Dexter breeders may want more closets or a window over there instead of over here but it's a group project.

I've seen a few questions about the PDCA goals which is good because it means that members are thinking about what the objectives of a breed association could/should be. As time goes on, we'll cover each of these goals extensively so everyone will have full knowledge of intentions and implementations. Together we'll discuss and weigh all our options in the design of these goals in order to help reach a consensus before any final decision or vote is cast. So there are no definitive answers until you the members make the final decision on how big you want your closets to be.

The foundation of any breed association is the integrity of its registry. The PDCA is fortunate in that we have, to my knowledge, the longest active Dexter Registrar in the world, Rosemary Fleharty. Already, a new program as been put together specifically for the PDCA that will be an upgrade from previous programs. Rosemary also serves as the PDCA's Secretary and she has been acclaimed by other organizations for her performance and professionalism as breed secretary. A breed association's success or failure is generally dependent on its secretary. This is because the bulk of the association work ends up being dumped on and accomplished by the secretary. With Rosemary, the PDCA's foundation is solid.

This a great time to be part of and participate in the construction of an association. Ultimately, this house will be built from the labors of members and their caring for the breed. The Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America will be where Dexter cows come home.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

What's a blog?

A blog is like an internet diary. In our case, we're going to use it to provide information concerning the Association, share regional news, and as a means to receive Region One members input. I know that with a new organization everyone has lots of questions and so I ask for your patience because eventually we'll try to cover every topic. The formation of an association is kind of like moving. Everything is all together but it takes time unpacking all those boxes. Sometimes there will be Open Topics where you can ask questions, discuss the PDCA or your region, or just provide your ideas on the topic of your choice.

If you click on the PDCA link you'll find that the website at this moment is under construction. I made a couple of small contributions and so I had the opportunity to look inside. Gabriella Nanci and the webmaster are working hard to put it all together and doing an outstanding job. It should be open in the not too distant future and I believe everyone will be impressed. I also have links to some of the Dexter forums and I encourage these to be used for discussing cattle. I know new breeders have many questions like what to feed their Dexter and these forums such as the Purebred Dexter Breeders might be helpful to obtain a variety of views from all the regions. We'll discuss cattle here but primarily the focus will be mostly on Dexters regionally and the PDCA.

I recently shared with others the Linus Pauling quote: "The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas". Your ideas are important and so I hope you'll click on comments and add yours to the topics that interest you. I'll try to put up new topics to discuss and share PDCA news daily and so check back here often and let other regional members know. We'll develop multiple means for communications but I hope you'll find the blog useful and make it successful because this was one of my ideas. :-)

Who am I?

My name is Richard Henry, and I've been appointed the PDCA's Interim Regional Manager for Region One. My main responsibilities are to help provide communication and if possible assist members in coordinating regional events. In essence, I will try to keep you informed with what's going on with the Association and also keep the Association informed of your thoughts and concerns. This is your Association and so your vote and ideas are equal to my own. If you have a question and I don't know the answer then I'll go hunt an answer down for you. I want PDCA Region One members to be well informed.

I've served as a President and Editor of a sheep association, Vice President for a goat association, and as an Editor for 5 years for a Dexter association. I hope that some of this experience will be helpful to the members of the PDCA. Most of all, I'm counting on your help in breeding quality cattle and in the building of a professional Dexter cattle breed association. Together we can be proud to promote Dexter Cattle and the PDCA. I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone in Region One. So thanks for stopping by.

Richard Henry
Lee's Summit, Missouri

PDCA - One Google