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.