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, June 30, 2005

Suspicious Inquiries

One PDCA member reported a suspicious inquiry they had regarding a Dexter bull they had for sale and so these links may help members be aware of some of the scams that are around:




Latest mad cow case traced to Texas herd


WASHINGTON -- The second confirmed case of mad cow disease in the United States has been traced to a cow born in Texas 12 years ago and slaughtered in November at a pet-food plant, Department of Agriculture officials said Wednesday.

The announcement comes five days after the agency disclosed that the animal -- a beef cow used for breeding -- had tested positive for the brain-wasting disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy. It was the first discovery of the disease in a U.S.-bred animal. The other U.S. case, confirmed in December 2003 in Washington state, was in a cow imported from Canada.

No part of the animal ever entered the food chain for humans or pets, USDA officials have stressed.

The department's chief veterinarian, Dr. John Clifford, said the new case, confirmed Friday, was identified and linked to the herd in Texas through DNA testing. He said the herd had been quarantined.

"The safety of our food supply is not in question," Clifford said in a conference call with reporters. He said the government would not identify the cow's owner or the town it came from.

He said that given the cow's age, officials think it probably was infected before the 1997 ban on the use of cattle parts in cattle feed.

Clifford said Texas animal health officials have found two animals that are related to the infected cow. Officials also are trying to identify herd mates born within one year of the infected cow's birth as well as any offspring born within the past two years, he said.

Humans who eat infected beef products can contract a fatal illness, known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

No Dexters anywhere have ever tested positive for BSE.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Amazing Irish Dexters

Mother Earth News - Issue # 62 - March/April 1980

Article and Photo by Randy Kidd

'Suppose someone could "invent" the perfect cow for homesteaders . . . what would the bovine beauty be like? Well, the animal would probably be an economical, small beast that required about half the grazing land of an ordinary cow or steer . . . yet still gave a fine yield of both milk and beef, right? Not only that (as long as we're fantasizing, we might as well go all the way!), but the critter would be so docile and friendly that it could be a domestic pet as well as a livestock animal!

Well, amazingly enough, such a small-is-beautiful breed of cattle actually exists! These "dream beasts" are called Irish Dexters (they were developed—years ago—by frugal Gaelic folk who wanted to get a lot of milk and meat but owned only small plots of land), and they really and truly do possess all the "invented" virtues listed above.

So if you're a small-scale farmsteader, Dexter cattle could quite possibly be the perfect livestock for you to raise. BUT (isn't there always a "but"?) before you try to build up a herd of the pint-sized bossies, you should take a close look at both the "pluses" and "minuses" of the Emerald Isle imports.'

Rest of the article here.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Headed North...

Back in a couple of days...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Whispering Behind the Barn

Recently I had a Dexter buyer that told me they had visited several MDBA members Dexter herds and was told by them not to join the PDCA. Given current events with association politics this information doesn't surprise me any but in reading Ms. Rutherford's book and of her struggles in the past with some groups regarding coming to grips with the "bulldog" problem it reminds me of my own battles in the past with some from the MDBA that wanted to suppress my publishing the chondrodysplasia reports from overseas. It's that common refrain one hears "that it might hurt sales" from those that believe marketing and promotion should be based on misrepresentations rather than honest public conversation and breed evaluations. I still believe that old fashioned honesty and truth will in the end rise to the top like cream and the breed and breeders will be better off. Whatever those MDBA members said about the PDCA I should probably thank them for not only a Dexter sale but for also another new PDCA member. Perhaps the buyer correctly figured that he would do more to promote Dexter cattle by buying a PDCA raffle ticket than by paying a checkoff fee to the kind of promotion the MDBA supports. Those days of whispering behind the barn are gone.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Registration Requirements

Anyone can return papers quickly if time is not spent checking and correcting. If a breed association places emphasis on speed but not accuracy then that registry can soon become no longer credible and their paperwork quickly becomes worthless to serious breeders. Even a simple mistake compounds into future errors which will eventually corrupt a registry if a registrar is only recording what is sent and not checking for mistakes. Since one of the agenda items will be the PDCA registration requirements in protecting our registry from other registries that are becoming less accurate and reliable, the following from "Dual-Purpose Cattle" by Claude H. Hinman might help better explain the importance and the process of registrations:

The Work of the National Breed Association

"These national organizations have as their first duty the registration and transfer of purebred animals. This is their principal job, and it must be done whether anything else is done or not. The work of checking, indexing, cross-filing and the detection and elimination of mistakes made by breeders--and all make them--is much greater than is realized by the breeders whom they serve. This work is quite technical and requires a trained staff. It is essential that the work be accurate and it is desirable that it be as prompt as possible. As a matter of plain business management it is advisable that the clerical staff be large enough to handle an average estimated volume of work only. If applications for registry and for transfer were uniform in volume per day or week, this would be easy. But in fact the strain of business floods and ebbs, which means that there are periods during which there must be an accumulation unprocessed. Because of the technical nature of the work it is not practicable to hire an untrained force of clerks to handle temporary accumulations. These must await the slack periods. This is the reason that there may be times in which delay in return of processed papers to the breeders will be annoyingly slow and the recording office will be blamed accordingly."

Next time you hear someone mention what I call the McDexter approach for speedy paperwork, remember what Claude said and think about how professionals would handle these important papers of yours. PDCA registrations will always maintain their value.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Making Hay

Print by Winslow Homer, 19th Century American artist and illustrator.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

"My love Affair with the Dexter"

I spent the evening reading "My love Affair with the Dexter" which I purchased through the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America. Not only is it a story of a fascinating woman, Beryl Rutherford, but also offers a wealth of insight and information about this magnificent and sometimes mischievous breed of cattle. I highly recommend the book to all Dexter cattle breeders. If you haven't already placed your order you can do so here in North America with a check for $25 U.S. payable to the PDCA. Send to:

"My Love Affair with the Dexter"
404 High Street
Prairie Home, MO 65068

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Farmer may dispel myths of organics

'Sheep and beef farmer Alastair Walker has a mission – to dispel myths about organic farming and show it can pay.'

The Southland Times - New Zealand

'On the new property they ran 50 dexter beef cattle and eight bulls plus 130 wiltshires – both easy-care breeds.'

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

First day of...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Happy Cows

From Real California Cheese, new recipes and Happy Cows TV -


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Milk and Butter

Learn to milk a cow, make butter, and more dairy tips from - food fun and facts.

You might also want to stop by Land O' Lakes -
June Recipes of the Month

Thursday, June 16, 2005

June is National Dairy Month

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Dairy Cattle Breeds Come in All Sizes and Colors

Article by Lois Kerr in Ag Roundup, with a mention of Dexters:

'The little Dexters, a small breed whose cows average about 750 pounds as adults, made the ideal homestead cow. Dexters, which range in color from black, red, dun, and occasionally white*, provided milk, meat, and made outstanding beasts of burden. The Dexter breeders didn’t specialize when the cattle industry began to select specific traits for development in individual breeds, so Dexter numbers dwindled. Today the US has about 6000 Dexter cattle. People who use oxen as beast of burden still appreciate the willingness and hard working attributes of the Dexter.'

*It should perhaps be noted that generally white has been discouraged by most Dexter breed standards with the exception of allowances for white on the udder to the umbilical and a few white hairs acceptable in the tail switch.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Flag Day...

Monday, June 13, 2005

PDCA Dexter Cattle Sale

Training has begun for Roxie. Right now if she was entering a calf race I believe that she'd have a good chance of winning. She's spunky but hopefully will behave herself in California and bring a good price in the sale. All proceeds from the sale of Roxie are being donated to the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America, so she's a company gal.

The PDCA Sale will be July 16th in Orland, California. It will be a "cowboy auction" which essentially means as the price goes up, bidders drop out until there is only one bidder left standing. Those that drop out cannot re-enter and no new bidders can enter after the bidding on that animal starts. If you cannot be present, mail and phone bids can be handled by a member of the Sales Committee on your behalf. So if you want to bid on Roxie or the other Dexters in the PDCA Sale contact Wes Patton, at 6352 County Road 27, Orland, CA, 95963, phone (530) 865-7250, or email jpatton@orland.net for more information. Wes can also give you information regarding haulers that will be available should you need your Dexter(s) delivered to your farm.

They're in the process of putting together the show catalog and so I'm not sure of the quantity of Dexters that we'll have. Given that the top show winning Dexter herds will be represented I am assured of the quality of Dexter cattle that will be there. So when Roxie arrives out West she'll get to hobnob with the Dexter elite.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Saturday's Calf

During yesterday's Missouri thunderstorms was when Maria decided to give birth to this dun Dexter heifer calf. Mom and baby are doing fine.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Diagnosis of heat and pregnancy in cows

'Written by Habib Ibrahim for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), this slide presentation provides information on diagnosing heat and pregnancy in cows. It covers the anatomy of the cow relevant to heat and pregnancy detection, the signs of heat, identifying animals on heat, defining pregnancy, and diagnosing pregnancy. Colour photographs are included, as well as a self-test quiz with answers, and recommended reading. Published on the ILRI Web site.'

Friday, June 10, 2005

Bull Joke

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI replaced my old Dexter bull with a young Dexter bull this past week and so it's probably a good time for this tale:

"Farmer Fred had a problem arise when, upon preparing his prize bull for market, the barn door slammed shut cutting the tail off the bull. His prize bull was to be sold that very day, yet now Farmer Fred couldn't... whole sale him or retail him."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

McHenry Festival

Reports are that everyone had a great time at the festival and Dexter show this past weekend. I heard that Gala Muirstead was a big hit with everyone. There was a lot of foot traffic through the barns and a great deal of interest in the Dexter cattle. The PDCA was also able to sell some raffle tickets and so overall a great event which should continue to get better every year.

Stormy Night

Big storms all around here in Missouri last night with lots of lightning, thunder and big gusts of wind blowing some roofs and metal sheds through the air. Calmer today but predictions are for more thunderstorms through the weekend. I still have one cow due to calve and so I thought for sure the storm last night would start delivery. That seems to be what usually happens but no calf yet, just a couple of less roof shingles.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Blackleg In Cattle

Blackleg is a peracute, non-contagious, and highly fatal (nearly 100%) disease of skeletal and heart muscle of cattle. It is mainly seen in cattle from 6 months to 2 years of age. It infrequently affects cattle greater than 2 years of age.

The infective agent: Clostridium chauvoei, a bacterium, is the primary causative agent. This class of bacteria exists in a spore form in the presence of oxygen. Because in the spore form it is resistant to environmental changes and disinfectants it can survive in the soil for years.

The disease process: The soil-born Blackleg organism enters the animal by the ingestion of contaminated feedstuffs. Following ingestion the organism may live in the gastrointestinal tract, spleen, and liver without causing any problem. What causes the bacteria to proliferate is not entirely known but it’s most likely a result of muscle bruising associated with handling, and shipping. There is also a recognized increased incidence in Blackleg when calves are on a high plane of nutrition and are experiencing rapid growth rates. When conditions in the animal are right the bacteria enter into a rapid proliferation phase resulting in toxins being produced that cause muscle death and subsequently the death of the animal.

Clinical signs: Animals observed before death are depressed, show signs of lameness and swelling in the affected limb. Early in the disease process the body temperature may reach 106° F and the swollen area may be painful to the touch. Later on in the disease process the swelling becomes cold and non-painful to the touch. Often times when the swollen area is palpated there is the perception of air under the skin (crepitation). From beginning of clinical signs to death ranges from 12 to 36 hours. Some affected animals may not show any lameness or limb swelling but the diaphragm, heart, or tongue may be involved. Many times affected animals are found dead without displaying clinical signs.

Treatment: Visit your veterinarian immediately. Treatment is usually futile. In the face of an outbreak it is effective to vaccinate and administer procaine penicillin g at the same time. The penicillin will stop the proliferation of Clostridium chauvoei allowing time for the bacterin to produce immunity in the calf.

Blackleg bacterin is effective. Most operations use the multi-valent Clostridial bacterin (2-way to 8-way). The first vaccination usually occurs at about 60 days of age and will be repeated at either 4 weeks pre-weaning or at weaning. In areas with a high disease incidence a booster vaccination will be administered depending on the local veterinarian’s recommendation. Even though the Blackleg bacterin is cheap and historically effective the disease is seen on a yearly basis. The 1997 NAHMS reports that only about 70% of all cattle operations vaccinate against Blackleg.

Take home message:
1. The Blackleg organism, Clostridium chauvoei, can live in the soil for years in its spore form.
2. Blackleg is still a threat to the unvaccinated calf.
3. Blackleg is easily prevented by proper administration of Clostridial chauvoei bacterin in the healthy calf.
4. The carcass of an animal that dies of Blackleg should be disposed of to prevent the further premise contamination.

Key suggestions:
1. Have your veterinarian establish an appropriate herd health protocol.
2. Read and follow all label instructions and withdrawal times for slaughter.
3. Give all vaccines subcutaneous if there is an option according to the label.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Cattle doing enviro-duty

Grazing helps clean up invasive, non-native grasses at Bouverie Preserve

By Tim Tesconi

'Cows, once considered a menace to the planet by environmentalists, are being credited with bringing back the wildflowers and native grasses at the 535-acre Bouverie Preserve in the Sonoma Valley.

Cows simply do what cows do best: eat. They graze on the invasive non-native grasses so that native grasses and wildflowers can thrive. Cattle find non-native grasses like wild oats and rye grass more palatable than the native plants. Like kids, they eat the good stuff first.

Grazing has helped native wildflowers such as meadowfoam and mule-eared sunflowers prosper at Bouverie.

"Cows are a perfect management tool here. When you have highly productive coastal grasslands with strong competition from imported European grasses you need a herbivore to level the playing field," said biologist Daniel Gluesenkamp.

Gluesenkamp oversees habitat protection and restoration at the Bouverie Preserve, part of the Adobe Canyon Ranch, a private, nonprofit organization of wildlife sanctuaries and centers for environmental education in Sonoma and Marin counties.

Using cows to enhance native grasslands reflects a shift in attitude about livestock grazing on public and private lands. Many agencies, including the California State Parks system, don't allow grazing on the thousands of acres of coastal park land in the North Coast.

Park officials said cattle and sheep don't fit in with the park's mission of providing scenic places for people by preserving the land's natural resources and biological diversity.

But Gluesenkamp, who holds a doctorate in integrative biology from UC Berkeley, said science supports well-managed grazing in regions like Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino counties. He hopes the work being done at the Bouverie Preserve will encourage grazing as a way to fight the spread of invasive species on public lands.

"There seems to be such a schism on this issue," said Gluesenkamp. "I come from the academic realm where grazing is a basic tenet of plant system management and an accepted practice for maintaining diversity."

It's the same position held by Sonoma County livestock adviser Stephanie Larson, who for years has advocated grazing to maintain grassland and reduce fire danger. Larson worked with The Sea Ranch, which is using sheep to graze 1,000 acres of common ground at the seaside community.

"We need to utilize some of the land that has been taken out of agricultural production and turned into parks and open space," Larson said. "Parks can co-exist with livestock."

Gluesenkamp said cows are doing what the large herds of elk did hundreds of years ago.

"Politics aside, grazing is a good management tool for land in this region," said Bodega rancher Joe Pozzi, who owns the 12 head of cattle that are now grazing selected plots at Bouverie. Pozzi is working with Gluesenkamp on the grazing project, evaluating stocking rates so that native plants expand and reproduce while non-natives are diminished.

Gluesenkamp said he realized something had to be done when he arrived at Bouverie Preserve four years ago. The land had not been grazed in 10 years. Non-native European grasses like wild oats and rye grass were squeezing out natives such as purple needle grass and California oat grass.

He began working on a grazing plan and last year brought in cattle for the first time. He rounded up a Boy Scout troop to help build an electric fence to contain the cows. This year, Pozzi, active in resource conservation work, agreed to supply cattle from mid-April through mid-June.

Next year the cattle and acreage will be expanded as more information is gathered on ways to enhance the native species at Bouverie.

"It's a way to protect our lands as sanctuaries for natural systems," Gluesenkamp said.'

Monday, June 06, 2005

Mad Calf

Not really mad, but this two week old Dexter bull calf looks like he has cartoon eyeballs in this night photo.

Shade is critical to Missouri beef cattle

News-Leader.com | True Ozarks

Two-year study indicates cows given shade have higher rate of pregnancy.

Some say shade is not important to beef cattle but Eldon Cole, livestock specialist, University of Missouri Extension, says research shows shade is critical to beef cattle in southwest Missouri.

Two years of shade research has been carried out at the University of Missouri's Southwest Research Center near Mount Vernon with impressive results favoring shade.

In 2000, a group of spring-calving cows were compared using small portable shades and no shade. The trial was done on both endophyte-infected and endophyte-free fescue.

The greatest difference showed up on the infected fescue where the shaded cows outgained the others by 0.72 pound per day for 84 days. Calves nursing the shaded cows also made slightly better (but less significant) gains of 0.17 pound per day.

The most dramatic finding of the shade study was the difference in pregnancy rates at the end of the summer. The overall pregnancy rate was 87.5 percent for the cows given shade while it was only 50 percent for cows with no shade.

"The difference was more pronounced when only the endophyte-infected pastures were considered. The elevated body temperature is likely the culprit for the drop in percentage bred," said Cole.

The following year, the same trial was conducted at Southwest Center using 550-pound steers. The shaded steers gained 0.2 pound more per day for 84 days than the unshaded ones.

As with the cows, the difference increased up to 0.35 pound per day when the shade, no-shade comparison was made on the "hot" fescue pasture.

"Trials in other states have given similar responses regarding animal gains, pregnancy rates as well as milk production in dairy cows," said Cole.

Research findings on cattle and shade, including tests in Missouri and Arkansas, confirm that natural shade from trees gives better animal performance than shade from constructed shades.

"Twenty-five square feet per adult cow is a bare minimum for shade space with 30 to 40 feet preferred to prevent crowding and poor air movement," said Cole.

Research also shows that dark-haired and heavier-coated cattle benefit from shade more than those with lighter coats.

"Bull fertility appears to drop in hot weather, so shade may also be of some benefit if you're in the midst of the breeding season," said Cole.

It is also important to know that some breeds, such as the Brahman and Brahman crosses, tolerate the heat better than others. Likewise, some animals within a breed handle heat better than others.

"Slick, short-haired cattle grazing warm-season grasses will suffer less production loss than those on endophyte-infected fescue. Fall-calving cows tend to be more tolerant of the heat than spring-calvers," said Cole.

David Burton, civic communication specialist for University of Missouri Extension, 833 Boonville Ave., Springfield, MO 65802, can be reached at 862-9284 or via e-mail: burtond@missouri.edu.

Copyright © 2005, The Springfield News-Leader, a Gannett Company

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Haze Roxie

Going to the PDCA Show in California.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Dexter Cattle Show Sponsors

In preparation for the PDCA video and live shows, there are still a few openings for award sponsors. If you would like to sponsor one of the national Dexter cattle show awards, please contact Jane Patton, PDCA Show Chair, at jpatton@orland.net or (530) 865-7250.


Dexter Cattle - UK

A couple of Dexter cattle clips from UK news...

Anger at Level of Compensation

'TYNEDALE farmers who lose stock to disease could potentially only be compensated a fraction of the animals’ true worth, a situation which has angered local farmers and the NFU.

If the Government gets its way and introduces table valuations for animal disease compensation – for Bovine TB in particular – all animals, regardless of their breed or category, would receive the same amount of compensation.

Otterburn organic farmer Andy Wilson runs a herd of Dexter cattle on his small holding at The Havens Farm, near Heatherwick, and thinks the proposals are unfair.

“We are not happy, and I can’t imagine that many people will be pleased,” said Mr Wilson. “It would be seen as very unfair.

"It will be especially harmful to someone with prime breeding stock and producers of beef from premium herds, they would find themselves being penalised."'

Suffolk at its very best...


'Gwyn Williams breeds old Dexter cows at his Barrow Green Farm, near Bury St Edmunds. And one black calf, from the brown herd, with her strong shape and shiny coat, impressed the judges many times over. Mr Williams said: "We work hard on the breed and it's given us results today. We're pleased. It 's a good, friendly show here."'

County Show Trophy Winners


Champion Dexter: Messrs S. Darnbrook (Planetree Maia). Reserve champion Dexter: J.D. Dawson (Lonsdale Tess).

Friday, June 03, 2005

Dexter Cattle News

The Summer 2005 PDCA Record arrived yesterday afternoon and is another fine 44 page edition by PDCA Editor, Patrice Lewis. This summer issue has a couple of good articles on showing Dexter cattle as well as a special article by John Paterson of his tour of the UK.

After you've checked your mailbox for the PDCA Record be sure to also check out John's latest entry on dex-info with his correspondence about the Royal Dexter Herds of Queen Victoria and Edward Prince of Wales.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Don't Forget...

To visit the McHenry Highland Festival this Saturday, June 4, 2005, at the Garrett County Fairgrounds in Western Maryland. There will be a Dexter cattle exhibit and you may also be able to pick up some PDCA raffle tickets while taking in all the festivities.
Should be a great event!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

PDCA Chondrodysplasia Test -

The current batch of chondrodysplasia tests by Bova-Can Laboratories are scheduled to be conducted on June 15, 2005. Deadlines for the next batch of tests will be September 15, 2005 and December 15, 2005. Testing form and information are available on the PDCA Website.

Trimming Hooves

Hoof trimming guide from the Cooperative Extension Service,
Purdue University.

PDCA - One Google