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.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Only a few days left to advertise...

If you would like to advertise your Dexters in this upcoming issue of The PDCA Record, you need to contact:

Patrice Lewis, Editor
(208) 686-0627

Patrice can provide you with rate information but you'll need to get a hold of her immediately to meet the deadline for this first issue.

Friday, October 22, 2004

A Mooky Week ~

Been kind of a dreary week weather-wise but there's been a lot of PDCA activity this week.

A couple of members have volunteered to help with putting together PDCA promotional merchandise such as PDCA farm signs, Dexter shirts, and some unique Dexter items. Look for that on the PDCA website in the future.

Credit goes to Gabriella Nanci for laying the groundwork for Dexter DNA testing with the laboratory in Canada. Information and the form will be posted on the PDCA website soon.

Everyone is pitching in to help with the inaugural issue of the PDCA Record. So poor Patrice is being swamped with ideas and material as everyone works to make this first issue positive and special for the PDCA membership.

Dean and Rosemary have been busy this week trying to catch up on being swamped by all the PDCA paperwork that's come in.

Rebecca's working hard on the website. She's received a number of ads already and so is developing our classifieds to be placed on there shortly.

Plans are developing for the PDCA's annual meeting this summer and those details will be announced soon.

As for myself, I'm a little behind on my writing this week as I had to make some unplanned trips running Mooky back and forth to the vet this week. Turned out her problem was a uterus infection but the infection along with the uterus has now been removed and so the rag mop is recovering nicely now.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Got Photo?

Patrice Lewis would like a really good wintry Dexter photo for the inaugural issue of the PDCA Record. If you have a photo that you feel might look great for the cover and you don't mind sharing, please send right away to:

Patrice Lewis, Editor
1305 Canyon Ridge Lane
Plummer, ID 83851

Friday, October 15, 2004

Nomination Letter

By now, you should have or will soon have your PDCA Nomination Letter. Please take the time to fill this out and return your nominations soon. Nominate yourself and/or nominate someone that you feel is qualified for a position. If you're not sure of who might be qualified or willing to serve on some positions you can leave those lines blank.

Contrary to the misinformation that you may have read in that other association's newsletter, the PDCA membership nominates, votes, and decides on all the Association's positions. I give members credit for being able to see the difference between what you say and what you do. When you ignore member input and then turn around afterwards and say that you want member involvement, I believe Dexter breeders are smart enough to realize the meaning is only damage control and not the truth as set forth by the precedent. The PDCA has put the letter in your hands. Ideally, we'd like to have the nominations returned by October 1st, if possible. The nominees will then be contacted and resumes will be put together which will be included along with ballots in the PDCA Record which will come out in November. The plan is to have the votes tabulated by Christmas, and so by the first of the year the PDCA Officers, Managers, Representatives, and Staff that the membership has decided on should be in place.

Thank you for your contribution to the breed, breeders, and the Association.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Post Cards

I've created and mailed out post cards to the region. So you should receive one in a week or two.

Welcome to the PDCA!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Cow DNA - Bos Taurus

The double-stranded DNA molecule is held together by chemical components called bases.
Adenine (A) bonds with thymine (T); cytosine(C) bonds with guanine (G)
These letters form the "code of life"; there are estimated to be about three billion base pairs in the cow genome wound into 31 distinct bundles, or chromosomes.
Written in the DNA are possibly 30,000 genes which cow cells use as starting templates to make proteins; these sophisticated molecules build and maintain the animal's body. BBC

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Cow gene map released

HUMANS may have something to learn from the cow.

The first draft of the bovine genome sequence was last night released to bio-medical and agricultural researchers around the globe, including many in Australia who contributed to the sequencing project.

Although much of the work is going towards finding the genes behind a better steak, it could also prove a breakthrough as humans understand their own genetic sequence.

Principal research scientist with CSIRO Livestock Industries Ross Tellam said the sequence would be important in finishing work on the human genome sequence.

Although the human genome project is officially finished, there are still gaps that researchers hope the genetic map of a cow might fill in.

Champion Dexter cow - Australia

Presenter: Sharon Kennedy

An ancient Irish breed of cattle has given a South West woman a dream run at this year's Royal Show.

Sue Hannaford runs Kirup Park Dexter stud along with her husband. About ten years ago, the couple were looking for a lifestyle change; just build me a house on a hill, said Sue and I'll be happy. Today, she still sighs with relief as she heads through the trees to catch sight of home. The Hannafords chose to run Dexter cattle, a smaller breed that are easier to handle and kinder on the land. The effort paid off this year when Kirup Park Waterford won Supreme Female at the Perth Royal Show.

Depending on your point of view, cows are either for milking or for eating. Or, in the case of the Dexters, for both. Of ancient celtic lineage, the breed is believed to have been around when Stonehenge was built. At one stage, they lost popularity and contracted back to Ireland, so missing out on the herd improvement movement in Britain. They're early to grow and to calf, says Sue. Waterford, at just three years old, has had two calves.

When asked what impressed the judges, Sue replies "I wish I knew." Judges may all see the same things, she feels, but they value them differently, perhaps looking for what they would like in their own herds. Sue's description of her prize winning cow sounds like a sculptural. "This particular cow's got a lovely wedge shape, she's smooth over the shoulders, she's nice and wide over the back end, she's got a nice little calf, she's firm over the loins, she's got beautiful neck extension, she walked out well." But for all Waterford's winning attributes, Sue still thinks she's lucky.

Her beasts weren't as well prepared as Sue would have liked. Timing is all important in preparation: getting the feed right so the animals come on at the right time; clipping far enough ahead so the coat is at the right length; putting in the hours training. Sue reckons they were lucky. Given that Kirup Park also won Junior Heifer, Senior Heifer, Reserve Senior Heifer and the hat trick in other classes, that's an awful lot of luck.

Luck, though, is something no successful breeder can do without. Sue's seen both sides of the coin. At one stage, she had a run of males; out of 19 calves, 17 were bulls. "Nobody wants that many bulls," she says. One cow cost $10,000 from Brisbane and consistently drops males. Yet Waterford was an embryo and she turned out just great.

Luck also plays a part in genetics. Sue is interested in polling, that is, breeding cows without horns which is not traditional for the breed. Imagine her delight when the Hannafords bought three embryos, had two take and both turned out to be poll heifers. Sue's learned to back her own judgement when it comes to choosing genetic lines. In the beginning, she says, they believed what they were told, out of inexperience. Now they believe that the WA lines are every bit as good as anywhere else.

Along with other breeders, the Hannafords have worked to widen and enrich the local genetic pool. "It started as a breed that had very limited genetics," Sue notes, with stock tracing back to too few animals. She's tried UK, likes Canadian lines, isn't impressed with the American and has had success with South African genetics.

In South Africa, Dexters are mainly used for milk. In Australia, they're a good choice for meat. "They're the right size for the home freezer," says Sue. People also buy them to "munch the grass". Does she do it for the love or for the money? Definitely the love, is the swift reply. She reckons could do just as well on an ordinary job. For instance, preparing an animal for show costs around $1,000 she says. You have to be committed, to get dirty, to love the work and to go with the flow when all those bull calves keep coming.

As for compensations, Sue enjoys nothing more than a glass of champagne in the paddock with the cows for company. "I actually like cows," she says. "They're very forgiving and wonderful mothers."

Sue Hannaford with Kirup Park Waterford

Waterford with her calf

Sue with one of her boys

Monday, October 04, 2004

Cattle in the Middle Ages

"Just how big were cattle in the Middle Ages anyway?"

To determine size, we look at two standards. The height to the top of the shoulder (aka the whithers), and/or the weight. This information will be given in the following manner: [female cm (in.); kg (lbs)/male cm (in.); kg (lbs)]

Postglacial Aurochs (Bos Primigenius)
[147 cm (57.9")/157 cm (61.8") or 150 cm/180 cm]
Neolithic Domestic (c2600 BCE)
[125 cm (49")]
Late Neolithic, Beaker, and Early Bronze Age (c1900 BCE)
[122 cm (48")]
Middle Bronze Age (1000 BCE)
[109 cm (43")]
Iron Age (300 BCE)
[107 cm (42")]
Romano-British (1st -4th C)
[112 cm (44")]
Anglo-Saxon & Scandinavian (7th-10th C)
[115 cm (45.3") or 104.6-121.4 cm (40.9"-47.8")]
Saxo-Norman and High Medieval (11th-13th C)
[110 cm (43.3") or 100-130 cm (39.4-51.2")]
Later Medieval (14th-15th C)
[109 cm (42.9")]
Tudor (late 15th-16th C)
[120 cm (47.2")]
18th C
[138 cm (54.3")]
Modern English Longhorn
[130-140 cm (51"-55")/150 cm (59")]
Modern Dexter
[91.4-106.7 cm (36"-42")/96.5-111.76 cm (38"-44")]

Greenlander (extinct)
[100-110 cm (39.4"-43.3")]

Therefore, in Britain, at least, cattle in the Middle Ages were smaller than the "average" modern cattle (I *think* 110 cm: 150 cm is about 73% and about 3.6").

Sunday, October 03, 2004


One of my favorite old cattle books is 'Dual-Purpose Cattle' by Claude Hinman. In the book he tells this story with regards to "pedigrees":

Attending a Boston convention of the A.O.U.W., at a dinner meeting, a pleasant young matron chanced to be seated beside a dignified local dowager, typical of the "proper Bostonians." This good lady finally unbent enough to say, "Pa'don me, my deah, what did I understand your name to be?"
"My name is Mrs. Sawyer," was the reply.
"Oh" (more warmly) "Perhaps you are one of the Wellesley Hills Sawyers?"
"No, I'm sorry, I am not."
"Ah, then perhaps you are one of the Brookline Sawyers?"
"No, I am from Oklahoma City. I have no relatives in New England."
"Oh," was the much cooler response, and after a pause, "You know, in Boston we think that breeding is everything."
"Well, we think it's lots of fun in Oklahoma but we do not think it is everything. We have other interests."

The cattle breeder should incline to the Oklahoma viewpoint and not consider pedigree "everything."

The birth of a calf (video)

Jersey Calving

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Beef Cuts

(Image from www.beeffoodservice.org)

Cow Nomenclature

Courtesy of Church & Dwight, Co., Inc.

Friday, October 01, 2004

PDCA Nominating Letter & Updates

The "Nominating Letter" will be mailed out next week. This will be PDCA member's opportunity to nominate people that you would like serving in all the PDCA positions. You can vote for any and/or all the positions and nominate yourself if you'd like to volunteer. Qualifications for the various positions will be listed in the letter. Your nominations will be mailed to an independent accountant and then the nominees will be contacted by the Nominating Committee for a brief resume which will be published in the PDCA Record along with a ballot for your vote. The plan is for votes to be tabulated around December 20th and so we should have all the membership elected PDCA people in place by Christmas. So be thinking about whom you'd like to have serve.

Since we extended the membership deadline, and with the upcoming elections, this has pushed back the newsletter a little to most likely coming out sometime in November. If you have an article/photos that you would like to contribute to the PDCA Record send them to Patrice Lewis, 1305 Canyon Ridge Lane, Plummer, ID 83851.

Over 100 registrations were processed over the weekend. A few minor bugs showed up in the new program but the computer consultant has since corrected these.

Overall, everything is going smoothly considering the workload is heavier than what would be normal. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

PDCA - One Google