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.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Cattle feeding tips for winter

Rusty Evans - The Leaf Chronicle

'Each year during cold weather cattle producers are faced with the same question: This year will it pay to adjust feed levels for my cows during cold weather?

In 2006, the answer is yes.

Jim Neel, a professor of animal science and beef cattle specialist with University of Tennessee Extension says, "The amount of additional feed to account for the cold weather events should be equivalent to about 125 pounds of corn per cow, or about 2 bushels of corn per cow. The advantages of such ration adjustments would be economically favorable with current grain and feed prices less than $2 per bushel."

Neel says previous studies have shown that pregnant beef cows exposed to cold weather require more energy for maintenance. "For example, at Kansas State University, pregnant cows have been shown to gain as many as 115 pounds over a 4 1/2-month period if their ration was adjusted for cold weather as opposed to cows who put on just an additional 26 pounds when their rations were not adjusted for the weather," he said.

Neel also said cows who are fed rations adjusted for cold weather add approximately 10 pounds from fall to the following fall, following calf weaning, while those whose rations are not adjusted can lose 90 pounds or more.

"Cows fed adjusted winter rations also tend to cycle faster," Neel said.

As winter feeding gets underway, producers should remember that during cold weather cattle need more feed to perform their best.

Cattle are comfortable in an environment of around freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) up to around the mid-70s, Neel said. "As the temperature drops below freezing and snow or other moisture occurs, cattle will need extra energy to keep warm and functioning."

"The rule of thumb as the temperature drops is to increase feed 1 percent for each degree drop in temperature below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. For example, if the temperature is 20 degrees, increase the feed fed by 12 percent," he said.

Neel warns producers to pay attention to wind chills. "If the wind chill drives the temperature down to 15 degrees, the feed will need to be increased by 17 percent," he said. "Moisture will also reduce the wind chill."

The expert says it is better to provide the extra feed in the form of good-quality, long-stem hay. "During the digestion of hay, heat is generated which contributes to maintaining body warmth," Neel said.

"Supplementation with grain or other concentrates is okay, but good-quality hay aids in generating heat."

More information is available at your local county Extension office.'

Friday, December 30, 2005

A Christmas Conversation about Dexter History

John Paterson on Dex-Info shares the interesting Christmas Day conversation he had with a person who in the early 1950s worked for a Cambridge artificial insemination service in England.

A Christmas Conversation about Dexter History

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cattle Breed Of The Week: Dexter

One of my favorite websites for cattle information, cattlenetwork.com, now has our Dexters featured as their breed of the week. Most may have seen the information on the OSU cattle breeds page which has also provided a link to the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America. Being the featured breed is good exposure and provides some information for those learning about Dexter cattle. So check it out and rate it highly:

Cattle Breed Of The Week: Dexter

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Odd Couple

Abandoned calf finds unlikely mother.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Winter And Impact On Calf Birth Weights

Does the severity (coldness or mildness) of the winter have an impact on spring-born calf birth weights?

Research indicates that cold temperatures influenced calf birth weight. With below average winter temperatures, larger birth weight calves and more calving difficulty may be expected in the spring.

Severity Of Winter And Impact On Calf Birth Weights

Monday, December 26, 2005

Clare's Dexter

KidSpace drawing...

"Well I have drawn a cow it is a Dexter and her name is Molly and was drawn by clare."

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Season's Greetings!

Season's Greetings!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Holiday Moosic

DESCRIPTION: Popular year after year with songs like: Hallemoojah Chorus; Angus We Have Heard On High; We Three Cows; Deck The Stalls; Carol of the Cowbells; We Wish You A Dairy Christmas ... etc...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Study: Cows Excel At Selecting Leaders

By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Recent studies on leadership in cows and other grazing herbivores suggest that intelligence, inquisitiveness, confidence, experience and good social skills help to determine which animals will become leaders within herds.
The findings suggest that, at least among these animals, individuals are not necessarily "born leaders," and that bullying, selfishness, size and strength are not recognized as suitable leadership qualities.

"The fact that in groups of animals of different age, leaders are amongst the oldest animals suggests that it's not innate, but the result of previous experience," said Bertrand Dumont, lead author of a recent Applied Animal Behavior Science paper on leadership in a group of grazing heifers.

Dumont is a researcher at INRA, the national institute of agricultural research in Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France.

Click to continue...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

'Winner Jan has X-factor'

UK - Birmingham Post

A farm shop in Rutland has been named the Midland winner of a competition to find the best rural retailer in the country.

Northfield Farm at Cold Overton beat other regional hopefuls including Hopton Hogs of Hopton Cange-ford, Shropshire; Beckford Stores, of Beckford, Worcestershire and Stan's Super Store at St Martins, near Oswestry, Shropshire, to win the regional title.

The competition was launched earlier this year by the Countryside Alliance and the shop in Rutland will now compete with 12 other UK finalists for the overall national best rural retailer title.

Jan McCourt, who runs the farm shop, specialises in rare breed meats, rearing Dexter cattle. The meat, which is hung for at least three weeks, has attracted praise from a number of chefs including Rick Stein and Clarissa Dickson-Wright.

Clare Rowson, regional director of the alliance, said: "Jan is absolutely passionate about every side of his business, from the working farm which he oversees, to the hanging and butchery of his excellent rare breed meats, right through to the retail side of the business via his farm shop, website, mobile catering unit and stall at Borough Market.

"He oversees the whole operation and also supports other local producers in his outlets. As well as his first-rate produce, Jan also has 'the X-factor' that we were looking for."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winter Solstice ~

Winter solstice for 2005 will occur at 10:35 am PST on December 21.

Solstice Traditions

"Winter solstice observances were held by virtually every culture in the world. Solstice rites were practiced among such diverse groups as Native South Americans, Celts, Persians, Orientals, and Africans. Solstice was known as Sacaea to the Mesopotamians, as the Festival of Kronos to the ancient Greeks, and as Saturnalia to the Romans. According to Norse traditions, the Valkyrie looked for souls to bring to Valhalla during Yule. Norwegians abstained from hunting or fishing for the twelve days during Yule as a way of letting the weary world rest and to hasten the revived sun's appearance. In old Russia it was traditional to toss grain upon the doorways where carolers visited as a way of keeping the house from want throughout the rest of the winter. Ashes from the Yule log were mixed with cows' feed in France and Germany to promote the animals' health and help them calve. In Baltic regions today, corn is scattered near the door of the house for sustenance and ashes of the Yule log are given to fruit trees to increase their yield. Romanians bless the trees of the orchard on Yule with sweetened dough to bring good harvests. Serbs toss wheat on the burning Yule log to increase livestock bounty." Excerpt from the essay Winter Solstice by Lisa Hutchins.

Winter Solstice sunrise at Newgrange - 21st December 2003.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

PDCA Members Get Free Advertising

Tis the season for giving and so I'm pleased to make this announcement:

Beginning January 1, 2006, there will be no charge for classified advertisements on the PDCA website for the membership of the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America. A one-time charge of $5 will remain for inclusion of a photograph if so desired.

Due to the tremendous support for the PDCA the association is able to offer this free service with hopes that it will be beneficial to both those that have Dexter cattle for sale and also to those buyers that may be looking purchase Dexter cattle.

Thank you to all members for the continuing growth and success of the PDCA!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Dexter & Kerry - type calves

Not the best of copies from P.L. Curran's excellent book, "Kerry and Dexter Cattle", but may provide a general view of calf types.

A Dexter calf from Dexter parents. Source - J. Wilson, Scientific Proceedings, Royal Dublin Society, 12, 1909.

A Kerry calf from Dexter parents. Source - J. Wilson, Scientific Proceedings, Royal Dublin Society, 12, 1909.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Udder Madness

From Send a Cow a flash game - Udder Madness

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Cows Outside

Here's a site that I saw listed on Homesteading Today and there was also an article recently in 'Stockman Grassfarmer'. Along with using a Kerry bull -----------------> the Grasslands Cheese Consortium offer internships in cheesemaking, grass-based dairy farming and bread baking. Looks like it would be an interesting program:

Cows Outside

Friday, December 16, 2005


There are tentative plans for the addition of a tour possibly on Thursday, October 12, to the Agricultural Technical Institute and the Ohio Agricultural Research Development Center. The PDCA's 2006 annual meeting and educational event will be held this coming year in Ashland, Ohio. This is shaping up to be another fun event and learning experience for PDCA Dexter cattle breeders.

Brucellosis appears in Idaho cattle


ARCO, Idaho -- Idaho animal health officials have sent two eastern Idaho beef cattle herds to slaughter due to brucellosis infections and are awaiting word from federal officials as to whether the state will lose its brucellosis-free status.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Possible causes of abortions in cattle

'There are many infectious causes of abortion including the viruses of infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD). There are also bacterial infectious agents such as brucellosis, vibriosis and leptospirosis as well as the protozoans of trichomoniasis and neosporosis. Prevention is directed against the specific causes of abortion and can be decided upon with discussion from your private veterinarian.'

Cattle FAQ'S

The Cyber-Farm

From Ohio State University Extension - Cyber-Farm

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Some quotes written between the years 1996 and 2001:

It was so cold last month, I read that up north you could drive nails with a banana. March 96

Promotion is internal as much as external for any breed. May 96

I agree with her (Beryl Rutherford) that there is a "strong affinity between Dexter owners world-wide". September 96

As the days get longer and the sun warmer, take the time to stand in the middle of your pasture and watch the cattle frolic and kick up their heels. Feel the southern breezes blowing away the brown of winter across the returning green of spring grass and if you're real quiet, you'll hear the serenity and the reason for why you're here. March 97

There seems to be some concerns about the words achondroplasia, bulldog, and dwarf's appearance in the (breed publication). Fortunately, I managed to get all three words into this issue. May 97

Anchondroplasia is not so much a breed problem as it is a breeding problem... May 97

I get tired sometimes of the politics and personalities but since what I do or don't do is pretty visible, I'll leave the affairs of state for the others to sort out. July 97

Changes, flu, kids, and farm have slowed things down here a bit, which is probably for the best. September 97

Sometimes the best decisions are no decisions, for rather than reaction it's better to do the research first so one can take responsible action because with most decisions there is going to be some kind of trade-off which needs to be understood for the betterment of the breed. March 98

Color and horns are insignificant traits compared to rumps and udders. March 98

Any breed association's primary function is the registration and transfer of animals. This takes precedence over anything else. It can, and should, provide information about the breed. It's purpose cannot be for the selling of breeders cattle as it is a non-profit organization. It can serve as a network to bring breeders together and assist with exhibitions and shows done regionally. The advertisement and promotion of the breed is most effective at the grass roots level, whether done individually or as regional groups. March 98

Dexters stand out as one of the most sensible and ecological breeds around. May 98

Despite any differences we may have about our cattle we're unified in that there's always another miracle waiting to happen out in the pasture for all of us... May 98

Conservation does make allowances for a breed to evolve. Few realize that the Aberdeen-Angus was threatened with extinction during the early 1800's when the Shorthorn became the craze. William McCombie is given credit for saving the breed that he had faith in. So just one breeder can make a difference. May 2000

New members bring enthusiasm to the breed, and how many times have we heard them say, "this may be a stupid question but..." and the questions are good and unbeknownst to the new breeder the answers can sometimes be complex. May 2000

Don't call at midnight to complain that you read that Dexters were easy to fence and you've just chased your bull across three counties. May 2000

Sometimes someone will get an idea that they believe will walk on water but it's been my experience that it's generally a good idea to roll up your pants legs first. July 2000

Opinions without basis of fact can sometimes be damaging to the association, the breeders and to a breeder's cattle. July 2000

I can sometimes tell when the weather is about to change because my Dexters become more vocal. October 2001

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Dexter Legacy Conservancy

You may have seen the advertisements in the Record or if you read some of the Dexter discussion boards you may be totally confused as to what this is all about. Legacy is a new conservation group formed in essence to preserve original American Dexter lines. After Legacy contacted the PDCA Board I had several consultations with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and so perhaps I can provide some clarifications.

The preservation of original lines has conservation merit and is not that uncommon among cattle associations. One example of this would be the Milking Shorthorn which was opened up to more influences after 1954 and so their registry provides the designation "N" for "Native" for those lines with only pre 1954 genetics. Having a designation in the registry helps breeders interested in preserving these genetics identify these lines.

The first recorded Dexters to the United States occurred between 1905 and 1915 when over 200 Dexters were imported. One misconception I see people make is the assumption of purity when it's likely the first importations might have had more introgression than later Dexters that had been bred true for a number of years. After the first importations there wasn't many importations of Dexters until later on in the 1960's. The first Dexter A.I. program in the U.S. which would have a larger influence on the Dexter population didn't begin until 1968. So perhaps this may be helpful to understand the Dexter lineage preservation time frame.

Texas Longhorns also have breeders preserving original lines. The original lines of Longhorns are rangy in comparison to the conformation of modern Longhorns but it's believed that the original lines maintain a high degree of hardiness. People sometimes make the mistake of judging and comparing original lines with modern ones when the conservation of the older genetics may have less to do with phenotype but perhaps could be useful later because they retain some yet undiscovered genetic value. An extreme example of the importance of preserving old genetics might be the commercial tom turkeys whose breasts were developed to be large in order to meet consumer demand. Eventually it became a problem for the tom turkey to reproduce because of the oversized breast. An interesting read regarding some of the problems that may manifest because of the effects of overselection in breeds is Genetics and Animal Welfare by Temple Grandin and Mark Deesing.

The PDCA works with a number of organizations to serve the breed and breeders through sound research and science. For more information about the Dexter Legacy Conservancy you can contact them through their website.

Monday, December 12, 2005

New Discussion Board

For those interested in sustainable agriculture there's a new discussion group that has just started up. It should provide for some intelligent discussion and useful information along with good moderating described thusly:

This group is gently moderated by Steve Solomon, author of 9 published vegetable gardening books, the most recent three being "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades," 1999, "Growing Vegetables South of Australia," 2002, and "Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times," 2006 (February).

So during the frozen ground days of winter you might want to check out -

Soil and Health

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Smart cows let others worry about the cold

By Lee Benson
Deseret Morning News

COALVILLE — It's dropped to 20 below the past two nights on Brown's Lane just south of town, where Glen Brown's dairy farm juts up against the foothills.

That's as cold as Michael Brown, Glen's son and superintendent of Brown's Summit Valley Dairy, has seen it in a couple of winters.

But you sure wouldn't know it from the cows' reaction.

"One thing about cows," says Michael, "they don't whine.

"They might beller a little after a while if you forgot to feed them, but they don't complain that it's too cold."

The fact is, Michael explains, mother nature gave cows a warm enough coat, even for when it's 20 below and they're outside around the clock. They've got thicker skin than a border crossing guard.

"It's like when you're snowmobiling or skiing and you're dressed for it, you're fine," he says. "Well, so is a cow. She's dressed for the cold. As long as she's got enough to eat, she's happy as a lark."

For the dairy farmer, though, the super-cold weather makes it tougher to make sure a cow gets enough to eat.

First off, you have to understand that your average milk cow eats 60 pounds of feed and drinks 30 gallons of water every day, which means maintaining a massive supply of good chow. When the weather turns cold and frosty, the farmer has to make sure the feed is dry, includes a proper mix of grains and hay, and that the water troughs, which are outside, don't freeze.

"It's all about energy," says Michael. "A milk cow that produces 120 gallons (of milk) a day uses a lot of energy. What you're trying to maintain is that milk production and also enough energy for their own body heat. You want to make sure they can get to that feed bunk and watering trough whenever they want to. It's all about health. The only way a cow is going to freeze to death is if it's sick."


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Minnesota TB timeline

February 2005 -
Inspectors from the USDA identify a five-year-old cow at a Wisconsin slaughterhouse as suspicious for tuberculosis. The animal is traced to a Roseau County beef herd. The USDA and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health begin an investigation, and the herd is placed under quarantine.

July 2005 -
The board and the USDA declare the Roseau County herd infected with the disease. By the end of the month, 18 Minnesota herds are under quarantine in Beltrami, Goodhue, Polk, and Roseau counties.

August 2005 -
An examination of records from the infected herd leads to the quarantine of 14 Minnesota herds and traces to Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Four other Minnesota herds are quarantined because they have had fence-line contact with the infected herd.

October 2005 -
So far, 31 herds have been quarantined. Nine of them are released from quarantine after testing finds those herds TB-free. Counties with quarantined herds now include Lake of the Woods, Marshall and Cass.

Four herds have tested positive in Roseau County; three of them share fence lines.

November 2005 -
A total of 39 herds have been quarantined. The first infected herd is destroyed. The farm is cleaned and disinfected.

December 2005 -
The USDA moves to strip the state of its tuberculosis-free status after a fifth infected herd is found in northwestern Minnesota.

Source: Minnesota Board of Animal Health

Friday, December 09, 2005

Dex-Info Updates

Dex-Info is a great resource for Dexter information and there's been some recent updates. So if you haven't checked out the site for awhile you'll enjoy some of the current updates such as a new original article by John Paterson, "Smallfarming Landscapes, Real and Imagined".

Thursday, December 08, 2005

PDCA Pedigree Analysis

Doug Meyer has developed and is currently testing a Pedigree Analysis feature for the PDCA Online Pedigree site. Doug is considering offering the Pedigree Analysis on a subcription basis to those PDCA members that might be interested in this new feature. Here is a brief summary of some of the new features:

*You can provide either an ID # for an animal to analyze, or the ID #s of a Bull and Cow to analyze their hypothetical mating.

*The s/w finds the full list of ancestors for the animal or mating you specify, and gives you some summary information about the ancestors on the Pedigree Analysis page.

*Also on the Pedigree Analysis page are links to various detailed reports such as the full list of ancestors, list of unique ancestors, and list of common ancestors (those that appear in the pedigree more than once.) A search function is provided for these reports so that you can, for example, search within the full pedigree for particular animals.

*Also on the Pedigree Analysis page are links to pages that calculate Wright's Inbreeding Coefficient (or COI) for the animal or breeding that you specified. Details of the COI analysis are provided for those interested (and can be ignored by those not interested.)

PDCA members interested in the Pedigree Analysis will have the opportunity to utilize this feature shortly.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Countryside & Small Stock Journal

Our very own PDCA Editor, Patrice Lewis, has an article about starting a home business in the November/December issue of Countryside & Small Stock Journal. Patrice took the opportunity to mention the PDCA and the PDCA website which has generated a lot of interest from people wanting to know more about our PDCA Dexter cattle.

Great job Patrice!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Two sad news stories for Tuesday.

From the U.K Discussion Board comes the news that Dexter Cattle Society president elect Heather Nightingale passed away.

From Wales comes this tragic story of a leading member of the Dexter Cattle Society.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dexter Classification 2006

Click on image for larger view.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Record - Winter 2005

I received my copy late Saturday afternoon and so PDCA members and subscribers can start checking your mailboxes in the coming weeks for your winter edition. Once again, PDCA Editor Patrice Lewis has done an outstanding job with putting together another informative and very colorful issue of the Record.

For those that may not have Dexters yet, the PDCA Record is not quite as good as having a Dexter of your own, but the publication is an excellent value and will provide you with a lot of useful information. So if there's a someday Dexter dreamer in your family give them the gift that gives four times a year, the PDCA Record. An annual subscription is still at the very low price of $10 U.S. and can be ordered through the PDCA.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

PDCA Breeders List

The PDCA Online Pedigree now has a printable (pdf) Dexter breeders list. Click on Breeders List and then you can select the link to print out the list for either by name or by state.

Friday, December 02, 2005

ViaGen gets USDA approval for cattle test

Company makes DNA test to separate Angus from rest of the herd.

Austin-based ViaGen Inc. has started selling the first genetic test for cattle to confirm they are Angus breed after receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The test will help cattle ranchers distinguish premium beef products from lower-quality varieties masquerading as Angus.

Black-haired cattle may look like the Angus breed that customers pay big bucks to eat, but that doesn't mean they are, said Mike O'Connor, vice president of operations at Austin-based Premium Gold Angus Beef, a meat retailer that helped ViaGen develop the test.

Premium Gold so far has exclusive rights from ViaGen to market its beef as DNA certified under an "AnguSure" label.

ViaGen also will sell the test to other cattle producers for $7.62 an animal.

"We're trying to bring 21st century technology into the industry," O'Connor said.

Cattle ranchers pull out a tail hair from their cattle and send it to ViaGen to make sure that it is at least 50 percent Angus, said Mark Walton, ViaGen's president. The company sends back an electronic tag encoded with the cow's genetic information and a visual tag showing that it has been tested.

Walton estimates that 10 million to 12 million Angus cattle are slaughtered every year for their beef. According to company tests, some products being marketed as Angus come from a different breed.

ViaGen also will sell a similar test called BreedSure that will help cattle ranchers determine the genetic makeup of other breeds of cattle.

They are the first DNA tests for ViaGen, which also develops cloned cows and pigs in Round Top, about 80 miles east of Austin.

The company is waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to say milk and meat from cloned animals are safe to eat before it sells those animals.

In the meantime, ViaGen hopes to expand the DNA testing part of the company quickly over the next few years, Walton said.

PDCA - One Google