PDCA - Region One
Lucy Werner of Lake County, Illinois, shows off her prize-winning Dexter cow, Princess Pride.
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.
Lucy Werner of Lake County, Illinois, shows off her prize-winning Dexter cow, Princess Pride.
Approximately 100 more PDCA memberships came in just this past week.
If anyone needs a membership form let me know, or you can print one out from the PDCA Website.
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.
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 1½ 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Here are our Five regions:
Regional Manager Region One - Richard Henry
MN, MO, WI, IL, IN,IA, MI
Regional Manager Region Two - Wes Patton
CA, AZ, NV, CO, NM, TX, OK, UT, HI
Regional Manager Region Three - Susie Hensrude
WA, MT, NE, AK, OR, WY, KS, ID, ND, SD
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan,Manitoba
Regional Manager Region Four - Frank Miles
AR, FL, LA, TN, MS, NC, GA, SC, AL,VA,WV,KY,MD,DE
Regional Manager Region Five - Kathy Smith
OH, PA, NJ, NY,CT, NH, MA, VT, ME,RI
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.
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.
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.
There will be Dexter cattle exhibited at the 12th National -
Small Farm Trade Show & Conference™
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
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.
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.