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.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Cows hold grudges, say scientists

JONATHAN LEAKE, THE AUSTRALIAN - Once they were a byword for mindless docility. But cows have a complex mental life in which they bear grudges, nurture friendships and become excited by intellectual challenges, researchers have found. Cows are capable of strong emotions such as pain, fear and even anxiety about the future. But if farmers provide the right conditions, they can also feel great happiness.

The findings have emerged from studies of farm animals that have found similar traits in pigs, goats and chickens. They suggest such animals may be so emotionally similar to humans that welfare laws need to be reconsidered....

The Bristol researchers have documented how cows within a herd form friendship groups of between two and four animals with whom they spend most of their time, often grooming and licking each other. They will also dislike other cows, and can bear grudges for months or years.

Donald Broom, professor of animal welfare at Cambridge University, will tell the conference how cows can become excited by solving intellectual challenges. In one study, researchers challenged the animals with a task where they had to find how to open a door to get some food. An electroencephalograph was used to measure their brainwaves.

"The brainwaves showed their excitement; their heartbeat went up and some even jumped into the air. We called it their Eureka moment," Professor Broom said.

The assumption that farm animals cannot suffer from conditions that would be intolerable for humans is partly based on the idea they have no sense of self. Latest research suggests this is untrue.

"Sentient animals have the capacity to experience pleasure and are motivated to seek it," Professor Webster said.

"You only have to watch how cows and lambs both seek and enjoy pleasure when they lie with their heads raised to the sun on a perfect English summer's day. Just like humans."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Early advertisement (1914)

Yates, Schuyler, Tompkins and Seneca counties, New York
published by Orange Judd Co., NY
A Rural Directory & Reference Book
Including a Road Map of the Four Counties Covered.

W. SHRINER, Hector, NY. Breeder of Dexter Cattle, Registered Cheviot and Polled Rambouillet Sheep, Angora and Milch Goats. Thoroughbred Leghorns. Beagle Hounds.


Saturday, February 26, 2005

"Dexter Cattle"

The Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America (PDCA) is proud to offer this new edition of the 1984 classic by John Hays that provides a history of Dexter cattle in America and honors some of the early pioneers of the breed. True to the original copy but reformatted with additional photos and a revised section explaining color. The PDCA would like to express our gratitude to Belle Hays for her kind donation.

To order "Dexter Cattle" by John Hays, please make check for $10 U.S. payable to PDCA, and mail to:

404 High Street,
Prairie Home, MO 65068

Friday, February 25, 2005

Meat & Milk

Two stories that caught my eye today was one where farmers in the U.K. were being served slices of roast beef from Dexter cattle and the other being the grim story of the dairy cows in Southern California udder-deep in mud.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Cattle Lice

'When cool weather arrives most of us forget about insects. However, cattle lice are cool weather pests. The lice problem starts in the fall, builds through the cold winter and peaks in the late winter or early spring. Left uncontrolled, a cow can carry tens of thousands of lice by late winter.

Our cattle are subject to attack by one species of biting louse and three (3) species of sucking lice. The biting lice eat dead skin and scabs primarily. The sucking lice suck blood and serum from cattle. The sucking lice are the most important as they take energy directly from cattle. Lice are especially important insect parasites as they infest our cattle during the season when cattle are receiving the poorest diet.

Lice are active insects, moving over the body of the cow. The itching caused by lice results in the symptoms we usually notice. Hair can be rubbed off in large patches and large areas may be rubbed until raw and bleeding. Cattle rub against trees, posts, feed-bunks and barns in a response to the itching.

November is when cattle are most often routinely treated for lice. This is a good practice for most cattlemen. However, if a systemic pesticide (such as Ivomectrin) has been used since July it may pay to wait until symptoms show-up to treat. This is because the sucking lice will have been controlled with the systemic treatment - and sucking lice are more damaging than biting lice. To follow this course, it is important that all cattle will have been treated with the systemic. If some individuals were not treated, or if cattle have been added to the herd, these untreated cattle may reinfest the others.

The most economical method of treatment is with "pour-ons" or spot-ons". Available products (tradenames) are: Lysoff, Tiguvon, Spotton, Co-Ral, Ectivan, Atroban, DeLice, Permectrin and Expar. All are effective - buy based on price. Be sure and read labels before purchasing products, because some have class and weight restrictions.'

Cattle Lice

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

New Link Added

Be sure to check out John Patterson's new web site for Dexter Cattle Information and Research. John presented his research of Dexters on the Internet at the last World Dexter Congress that was held in Australia.

PDCA Fee Schedule

We've simplified the fee schedule with the most significant change being that new and renewal membership fees are now the same at $20. To be fair to members that paid the original new membership fee of $30, $10 of credit will be given.

Someone suggested giving away free memberships to new members like the other association has started doing. My simple answer would be that you get what you pay for but really the initial $20 initial fee is a pretty small commitment. We do have plans to develop coupons that will be awarded to PDCA members to be used for a free membership to someone purchasing a Dexter for the first time. We'll have some fun with this and generously award these free membership coupons to our members perhaps for things like best Dexter promotion, youth programs, etc. So this is in the development phase right now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

PDCA Receives Donation

Read about it in the Spring 2005 PDCA Record, which is now on its way to the Printers and should be in your mailbox in a few weeks.

Monday, February 21, 2005

PDCA Registration Policy

We've been seeing a number of registration papers with errors coming from outside the PDCA. Some of the types of errors that have been showing up are the wrong listings of breeders and owners, incorrect birth dates (Dexters don't calf every 3 months), a calf from a dam that the owner hasn't owned for 10 years, and perhaps the strangest one of all was an old deceased bull that is not on AI listed as the sire of a recent calf. So if you have papers from another Dexter cattle association don't assume that these will be automatically transferable to the PDCA. If there's extra work involved with Rosemary having to make calls and track down the correct information this could result in delays and extra fees charged. In questionable instances DNA parentage verification will be required as well as for future AI bulls. It's important that Dexter breeders be made aware of some of the errors in order that they can double-check their paperwork for mistakes so as to not run into extra charges and problems with their registrations later on. Our first duty is to protect the PDCA registry's accuracy and integrity. The registration policy will be published in the upcoming Spring 2005 PDCA Record which is nearing completion.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Irish Toast

'Here's to the bull that roams through the wood,
and does all the heifer's so very much good,
for if it was nay for him, and his little red rod,
there'd be none of here could eat steak by God.'

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Early Irish Cattle

'Scharff's* 1923 work on early Irish cattle suggests that Bos Longifrons or brachyceros was the original Celtic breed, imported from Asia via continental Europe in the late Stone Age. These animals were supposedly even smaller than the diminutive 'Kerry' breed, which may be their contemporary successors.'

*Scharff, R. F. (1923). On the Origin of the Irish Cattle. The Irish Naturalist 32, 65-76. Dublin: Eason and Son, Ltd.
Burrenbeo Reference Library.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Cattle In Early Ireland

By Shae Clancy

'It is difficult to write with certainty about Celtic Ireland because the earliest surviving written sources date from the 8th century. The difficulty is even more profound when dealing with cattle. The early writers shared the same environment as their audience and, since cattle were part of everyday life, the scribes saw no need to describe and explain what was obvious to everybody. Thus, much that would be of interest to us today was never recorded. Nonetheless, the early law texts, wisdom texts, hagiographies and sagas abound with references to cattle, thereby testifying to their importance in early Irish society.

Cattle, especially milch cows, were the unit of currency and the measure of a person’s status. The largest unit of currency in the old Irish system was the cumal, which was equivalent in value to a female slave or to three, or three and a half, milch cows. Similarly, a sét was valued at half a milch cow.

The early law texts describe penalties for wrongdoing in terms of numbers of cattle. For example, the fine for injuring a person’s shin was three séts, which had to include a milch cow and a calf. Social status was an important part of Irish life. A man with only one cow was regarded as being extremely poor. The lowest grade of freeman who was non-royal had seven cows and a bull, whilst the highest grade had to have thirty cows to qualify for the status.

Archaeological evidence shows that domesticated cattle first appeared in Ireland about 5500 years ago. They were similar in stature to the modern Kerry cattle, which are regarded as a very old Irish breed. While it is impossible to say with certainty, there are indications from the texts that early Irish cattle were mostly black in colour, although red and brown are also mentioned. Saint Ciarán, founder of Clonmacnoise, had a dun coloured cow, the hide of which, according to tradition, was later used to make the Leabhar na hUidhre, the Book of the Dun Cow. There are also references to brindled cows – those having more than one colour.'


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Estrous Synchronization Information

Kansas State University Research and Extension

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Small Dairy Resource Book

"The Small Dairy Resource Book: Information Sources for Farmstead Producers and Processors"

56-page annotated bibliography of books, periodicals, videos and other materials on farmstead dairy processing, each with a concise review, for farmers and others interested in adding value to dairy products. Covers on-farm cheesemaking, ice cream, butter, dairy processing, raising dairy animals, business & marketing, food safety, and feeds & grazing. Out of print -- free Acrobat pdf version (990 kb):


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

PDCA notes...

Be sure to check out the 2005 Annual Meeting, Show & Sale, information. Due to members' requests there has been a tour of the Chico State University farm added for Thursday, July 14th. Those attending may want to make hotel/motel reservations early as there is also an auto race scheduled for that weekend. Let the hotel/motel know that you're with the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association.

The inaugural PDCA election has now concluded and so keep checking the PDCA web site for the results that should be posted shortly. Thanks goes to all of you that participated.

*Update: There will be more election details in the Record but your newly elected are now listed on the PDCA web site.
Congratulations to all!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day!

Click here
to play Love Cow jigsaw puzzle.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

2005 PDCA Dexter Photo Contest

There will be a Dexter photo contest at the 2005 PDCA Meeting, Show and Sale. This is a fun event, which gives everyone a chance to show off their favorite Dexter cattle. This is especially important for those who wish they could attend, but cannot and for all of those who make the trek to Orland, California in July. The contest is open to PDCA members.

Send 5 x 7 or 8 x 10 color photos of your Dexter cattle by 7-01-04 to Jane Patton, 6352 County Road 27, Orland, CA 95963. Please enclose $5 entry fee (payable to the PDCA) for each photo entered.

Classes will be offered in the following categories:

Individual cattle pictures
Dexters in a scenic setting
Dexters and people
Working Dexters
Dexters for Beef
Milking Dexters
Dexter calves
Dexter cow-calf pairs
Dexter herd bulls
Dexters on Display (fairs, field days, etc.)

The PDCA reserves the right to use photo entries for the purpose of promotion of the breed, but will give appropriate credit to owners if photos are used.

Awards will be given in each class and participants at the ADCA Meeting will select a Grand Prize Photo. The winner will receive a one-year free membership in the PDCA.

Find more information and updates for the PDCA Annual Meeting, Show & Sale on the
PDCA web site.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Chondrodysplasia Test

Chondrodysplasia testing of Dexter cattle is now available through the PDCA. "Bova-Can Laboratories is pleased to offer this service to members of the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America." Specific details and information for members regarding the testing will be in the Record and posted on the PDCA web site.

Here's a summary of the relevant information from Bova-Can. For those that may wonder why they need to go through the Association rather than deal directly with the lab it's because this was one of the conditions set by the lab. Gabriella Nanci deserves a lot credit for her months of work with Bova-Can in getting this test set up again for Dexter cattle.

PDCA will collect the hair sample envelopes from their members. The samples will be submitted by PDCA to Bova-Can Labs for testing in batches.

A completed Application Form must accompany each sample submitted for testing.

Hair samples are to be collected in PAPER envelopes, not plastic bags. The PDCA can supply envelopes if requested. Each sample must be clearly labeled with the animal's name, registration number and tattoo. The lab will not accept unlabeled or partially labeled samples for testing.

Test results along with Bova-Can's invoice will be sent to the PDCA for distribution to the member requesting the test. Communications will be between the PDCA and Bova-Can Laboratories.

The testing fee will be invoiced at $35.00 US per sample.

The tests will be conducted once every 3 months.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Wealth in small cattle

'In ancient Ireland, wealth was referred to neither in terms of money nor ownership of land; instead, the cow was the measure of everything, including the unit of value. An old saying was, "He who is born on Monday, his wealth in cattle will be good. He who is born on Tuesday.... great will be his wealth in small cattle."'

From the Complete Cow by Sara Rath.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


"Microlivestock: Little-Known Small Animals with a Promising Economic Future", 1991, Board on Science and Technology.

Small animals require less feed and space and are easier to care for. This fascinating report makes suggestions for replacements for conventional livestock. Chapter on microcattle begins on page 17 with a reference to Dexter cattle on page 31. Read it online (free) or print it out at the National Academy Press.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Science Behind Making Steak More Tender

Science Daily

'At the ARS Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., animal physiologist Mohammad Koohmaraie is leading a group of researchers in determining how to make steaks more tender. Some of their discoveries are already being used by industry.

The scientists noticed meat is tender after slaughter, then toughens before starting to become tender again. Accordingly, the scientists believe steaks shouldn't be sold before they've aged for 14 days, to make sure the meat has undergone maximum tenderization. A majority of beef processors are already following this procedure.

They also discovered the enzyme µ-calpaina and the variation of the protein called calpastatin, both of which have a major impact on meat tenderness. Calpastatin determines how much calpain is active and how tender the steak will be. Since calpain requires calcium for activity, the team has developed a process for injecting calcium into meat in order to make it tender.

The scientists are also studying cattle genetics. Under the leadership of chemist Tim Smith, they are comparing the sequences of genes that produce calpain in both tender and tough cattle. They have released a DNA test that accurately identifies which cattle will likely provide tender steaks, so producers can use those animals for breeding.'

Read more about the research in the February 2005 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Monday, February 07, 2005

PDCA Brochure

Inside PDCA Brochure (Click on image to enlarge)

Saturday, February 05, 2005


...UFOs, Too

'One of the unheralded arts of the West is the whimsical alteration of highway signs. Something about being alone on a big stretch of blacktop encourages this craft. So I've heard.

This sign was reportedly photographed on a stretch of old Route 66 between the Northern Arizona towns of Seligman and Ash Grove, about an hour west of Flagstaff.'

Friday, February 04, 2005

Linear Type Traits

(Click on chart to enlarge).

Calving time tips from an expert

By Gene Johnston
Successful Farming Magazine Managing Editor

'Rob Callan, a veterinarian with Colorado State University, gave a few calf-saving tips to producers during the Cattlemen's College at the Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio.

First, he said, you need to know when to assist a cow that may be having a problem delivery. A cow can take from 1 to 8 hours of getting ready to calve before her water breaks. After that, she should make some progress every 30 minutes - a foot showing, a second foot showing, a nose showing. If progress seems to be stalled after 30-60 minutes, it may be time to intervene.

Then, if you do have to assist in delivery, it's best if the cow is laying down. If the cow is standing, you have to lift the calf up and over her pelvic bone. If she is laying down, you don't have to lift up, and it takes 30% less force to deliver the calf, says Callan.

Some cows will lay down naturally when you start pulling on the calf. If a cow doesn't lay down on her own, cinch a rope around her belly; most cows will lay down. As you pull the calf, Callan says it helps to gently twist the lower leg over the upper leg, causing the calf's body to twist slightly as it moves through the cow's pelvis. This will prevent the calf from hip-locking.

A normal calf should be laying up on his sternum within 15 minutes of delivery, trying to stand. He should have suckle response in 30 minutes, and be standing up by 60 minutes of age.

It's important that the body temperature of newborn calves stay above 100 degrees. If possible, take calves' temperatures immediately after birth. Typically, their temperatures will be about 103 degrees right at delivery, then begin to drop within the first 1-3 hours.

If a calf's temperature drops below 100 degrees, it is in some distress. Get it into a warm water bath, or better yet, a heated hut with direct heat from a lamp or heater.

"I like the hut idea best, because it means the calf is breathing warm air into his lungs," says Callan. "That's even more important than getting warmth to his outer body."

If a calf is having trouble suckling or getting going in general, it's important to get colostrum into him. Do this with either a stomach tube, or a nipple bottle if he'll suckle.

"But don't give him too much, only about a quart," says Callan. "Any more than that, and you might fill him up so much that he's not hungry, and he won't try to suckle. We want him to try to suckle as soon as possible, to build that bond with the cow."

Callan says that your most gentle cows, the ones that are easiest to milk, are the best source of supplemental colostrum. After a cow's own calf has suckled, milk out a quart or so and freeze it. Her own calf will not miss it. It will be available for a later problem calf, or it can keep for an entire year if need be and still be viable when thawed.

Callan likes the practice of putting a nose tube with oxygen on problem calves. "My experience is that calves that aren't getting enough oxygen don't nurse very well. Supplemental oxygen can help them get going."

When calves are going good, Callan likes to see them moved out from calving pens to group nursing pastures. He'd prefer that calves in nursing pastures all be within three weeks of age of each other.

After three weeks, start putting new calves in a different nursing pen. This keeps the age range in each nursing pen at three weeks or less. The reason is that older calves can shed bugs that cause calf scours, even though they may not be scouring themselves. New young calves may not be able to fight off those bugs.'

Thursday, February 03, 2005

There's Just Something About That Cowbell

All Things Considered

Dexter Cow (1929)

From Breeds of Live Stock in America by Henry W. Vaughan (1947).

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Illustration of classification points from Dual-Purpose Cattle by Claude Hinman(1953) which may also be applicable as a guide to breeders of Dexter cattle. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

PDCA - One Google