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, January 31, 2005

Calf in more snow...

Dun Dexter bull calf's first winter.

More snow...

Dexter bull watching snowflakes on the last day in January.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Calf in Snow

A light dusting overnight making today a winter wonderland
for the two month old dun Dexter calf.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Tentative Plans

Here's some answers to questions asked in another forum regarding the auction and PDCA workshops for the 2005 PDCA annual meeting:

Everything is tentative at the moment and once all the plans are firmed up they'll be announced on the PDCA web site and put in the Spring 2005 PDCA Record. I don't have any of the specific details for the individual workshops but a few of the likely possibilities are a basic workshop for beginners and prospective buyers, a grass-fed workshop, ultrasound for reproduction and carcass merit, and perhaps a fitting demonstration will be another.

They're planning to use for the Dexter cattle sale what is called out there a "cowboy" auction which is simple and not as intimidating to new people as some other kinds of auctions might be. Wes will explain it better in the Record but essentially beforehand everyone interested knows the opening bid and has cards. If no one holds up a card then of course it's a no sale, but if several hold up cards you move on then to the next bid until you get to only one card left being held up. If you drop out during the bidding then you can't reenter. Haulers from the auction should be available as well and their information will also be in the Record.

A number of members have expressed a desire for a tour of the Chico State University farm and so that might also be added to the schedule for Thursday. I found the evaluation of a Dexter carcass at the University meats lab to be very interesting when I was there in 94.

If anyone with plans to attend has any questions/suggestions contact Wes Patton at 6352 County Road 27, Orland, CA, 95963, phone (530) 865-7250, or email jpatton@orland.net

Begin Tour

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Late Ballots

One would think that a month would be plenty of time to receive mail but a couple of members had their ballot arrive late. We managed to take care of them to get their votes counted but if you or you hear of a PDCA member that had any problem with their mailing, have them get in touch with Donna Martin right away so that she can help them out.

Donna Martin

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Alternative Beef Marketing

ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Friday, January 21, 2005

Natural beef info...

Here's the beef.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

B - Day ~

Today is the deadline to have your ballots postmarked. So hopefully, PDCA members have voted and mailed their ballots.

Today is also my oldest son's birthday. This photo is from a few years ago and so the little calf has grown up and is now long gone from the freezer, whereas Luke has now reached the majestic age of 21.
Happy birthday Luke!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Cattle Software

Available free from the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and the Oklahoma State University Department of Animal Science -

Computer Software Link

Genetics of Coat Color in Cattle

A brief review of what is currently known about the genes controlling cattle coat colors and patterns -

Color Link

Monday, January 17, 2005

Types of breeds...

Landrace breeds - "Landraces....are local populations of animals that are consistent enough to be considered breeds, but are more variable in appearance than are standardized breeds. They also lack the formal definition and organization that is typical of standardized breeds.....A combination of natural and human selection has shaped the evolution of landrace breeds. Natural selection and geographical isolation have created genetic consistency and adaptation to the local environment. Traits such as parasite and disease resistance, reproductive efficiency, and longevity have also resulted. Human selection is of somewhat less importance. In fact, human selection in one part of a landrace population may be counteracted by different human selection in another part. Color is one example. The Holt line of Piney Woods cattle is usually white park or colorsided roan with black ears, while the Conway line is red and white in various combinations. Both individual herds have lost some color variants (gaining uniformity of color in the process), but the landrace breed has not.

Landrace breeds generally lack the formal support of a breed association, and they survive as distinct populations due to geographical and cultural isolation. If communication among breeders increases, and a network of breeders is organized, the landrace may benefit by greater geographical distribution and more secure numerical status. This process can, however, result in selection for greater uniformity across the population and diminish the presence of some of the original variants. If, instead, there is careful cultivation of the diversity within breed parameters, the genetic integrity of the landrace is protected even as it becomes a standardized breed.

Standardized breeds - Historically, most livestock breeds began as landraces and then became standardized breeds. As breeders organized, they agreed upon a description (or "standard") of the breed and then began to select their animals towards this ideal. In practice, this means greater uniformity in behavior and performance. Genetic diversity may have been reduced, but predictability was gained....

Standardized breeds are what most people think of when they consider purebred livestock. Human selection has played the primary role in the development of standardized breeds, though natural selection has sometimes played a part as well. The breed standard defines the breed, and it is this criterion by which individual animals are evaluated. Breeding to a standard emphasizes a relatively narrow range of variation, usually less than the variation found in a landrace. Genetic isolation of the standardized breed is thus established by breeding practices rather than by the geographic or cultural isolation typical of landraces. For example, most standardized breeds limit inclusion to those animals with two registered parents.....Conservation of standardized breeds (as well as landraces) requires that the purity of the breed be protected from crossbreeding. The diversity within the breed’s genetic parameters must also be conserved. The two forces of predictability and variability tug against one another, and striking a balance between them is the goal of breed conservation.....A group of animals must breed true to a distinguishing type to be a true breed."

From A Conservation Breeding Handbook, by D. Phillip Sponenberg and Carolyn J. Christman, (pub. by ALBC, 1995), pp.6-9:

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Cow

The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk.
--- Ogden Nash

Saturday, January 15, 2005

In situ conservation of livestock and poultry

by Elizabeth L. Henson

3.3.1 Unique Populations

'Uniqueness is difficult to define with respect to livestock populations. There are clearly some populations with obviously unique characteristics or traits. For example naked neck chickens (Bodo et al, 1990), seaweed eating North Ronaldsay sheep (Henson, 1978), or the Kuri cattle of Lake Chad whose hollow horns enable them to swim to the lake islands (Adeniji, 1983). There are also breeds or strains which exhibit extremes of quantitative production traits for example, the miniature Dexter cattle of Ireland (Ark, 1976), the prolific Taihu pigs of China (Peilieu, 1984), and the excessively fat Mangalitza pigs of Hungary (Baltay, 1982).

For the vast majority of populations their uniqueness is subjective. It refers to the fact that no other population has the same ancestry, environmental adaptation, human selection, appearance or production characteristics. In effect, the difference between two populations may only be a function of the relative frequencies of the same genes. From the point of view of conservation any population which is historically or geographically isolated or which has had little genetic influence from other breeds over a long period of time, or which exhibits unusual characteristics or traits should be considered to be a unique population.'

Friday, January 14, 2005

Butter Sculptures

This year's Farm Show butter sculpture depicts a farmer standing in a corn field with his child and a calf to depict the theme "Farmland Preservation." (Michael Bupp/The Sentinel)

'Butter sculpture has its roots in ancient Tibetan Buddhist art where these temporary creations symbolize impermanence. Impermanence is a basic tenant of Buddhism. The American form of this art has more to do with sideshows and agricultural fairs, yet serious and talented artists have worked in butter.

In the late 1800s Caroline S. Brooks of San Francisco enjoyed national attention for her work in butter and she became known as the "Butterlady". What was little understood was that her butter sculpture was but a first step towards sculpting a work in marble.

J. E. Wallace seems to be the butter sculptor of choice for early 20th century agricultural fairs where he often worked in large "coolers" holding as much as 2700 lbs. of ice to sculpt his 600 lbs. butter cows. Toward the end of the exhibitions as the butter began to melt it was often sold.

Today, Butter sculpture remains a popular attraction at many agricultural fairs across America.'

1923 Syracuse, NY Fair

Illinois state fair 1948

1925, Kentucky State Fair

"Udder Delight"
1998 Butter Sculpture
Tulsa, Oklahoma State Fair

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Get Well

Unfortunately the news is that Dexter breeder and PDCA member Bill Werner has been experiencing some health difficulties the past several months. Best wishes to the Werner family and I hope that Bill is back in the saddle again soon.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Taking Stock

UK -

'Until August 1997, Tessa McCourt and her husband Jan lived an untroubled life. Tessa looked after their three children while Jan worked in the City, living in London during the week and returning to their farm near Oakham, Rutland, at weekends. "We kept a lot of horses," he says, "but if you graze them too intensively on a small plot, the grass gets 'horse sick'. The only way to keep the grass in good condition is to graze sheep and cattle with them."

In 1995, their quest for suitable cattle began. "I sat down with a book about farming written at the turn of the century," says Jan. "The breed that stood out was the Dexter, a very small Irish cow." When their first steer was slaughtered, the McCourts had so much meat, they phoned up everyone they knew and gave the stuff away. Whatever cut of beef people got, they loved it. "The Dexter puts down a lot of fat," Jan explains, "which gives you better marbling through the meat - and that's what gives it flavour."

By the summer of 1997, the McCourts had 100 head of cattle. Then without warning Jan was made redundant. "We were suddenly down to zero income," he says, "but we still had massive outgoings. On the train back to Oakham I thought, 'I'm going to open a farm shop and really make a go of it.'"

On the day the farm shop opened, beef on the bone was officially banned. Despite this omen, the McCourts carried on selling beef from Dexters and other traditionally reared rare breeds. "Alongside our Dexters, we raise White Park, Longhorn and Shetland ," says Jan. "On the pig front, we have Gloucester Old Spots, Tamworths, some Berkshires, and we're even hoping to raise some Middlewhites - wonderful beasts with a squashed nose."

When Jan first took his Dexter beef to Hambleton Hall, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Oakham, head chef Aaron Patterson actually started crying. It became his signature dish. "We did good business after that," says Jan, showing me his chiller packed with joints, sausages, burgers and ready-cooked meals in takeaway cartons. "What we're doing seems revolutionary, but it's not. It's just back to basics - total common sense."'

Northfield Farm Limited, Whissendine Lane, Cold Overton, nr Oakham, Rutland LE15 7ER. Tel 01664 474271.

Monday, January 10, 2005

PDCA Record Online

The Winter 2004 edition of the Record is now posted on the PDCA web site.

You'll find it Here.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

High Quality Farmland in the Path of Development

My county's red which is no surprise. You can find yours by going Here.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Dexters - 1906

This is a print that sold on Ebay, titled "Prize Cattle"
which is taken from a 1906 book called " The Complete Farriery".
(Dexters in foreground)

Thanks go to Judy for bringing it to my attention.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Miniature calf causes stir

From 2003, but noteworthy because exceptionally small.


'What is thought to be one of the smallest calves in Britain has been born at a rare breeds farm in Staffordshire.

Snowdrop, a rare miniature Dexter cow, gave birth to 12-inch high Anson at Shugborough Park Farm last week.

Already, the tiny calf is already proving to be extremely popular with visitors to the farm.

Dexter cows are among the rarest of breeds and are said to be even rarer than the endangered giant panda.

'Attention grabber'

Corrine Caddy, from Shugborough Park Farm, said Anson is an important arrival.

"He's a real attention grabber," she said.

"He is just one foot tall and when fully grown, will only be three and a half feet tall."

She added: "He is part of an Irish breed which was brought here to be rescued from the brink of extinction in the 1970s."

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


One thing that we've had a lot of this week is weather, but one thing that I don't yet have is a Dexter Cow Weathervane by Otter.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

PDCA - Family Album

The PDCA web site now has a section for members' Dexter related photos. So if anyone received a new camera for Christmas that they want to try out or if you have some good pictures of your Dexters send them to the Webmaster - GloryInternetSolutions@hotmail.com if you'd like to share them with everyone.

Hopefully everyone had a happy and healthy holiday. It was unseasonally warm here but the forecast is for freezing rain/snow and so January is looking like more normal weather. Normal weather around here usually includes some fluke of nature that only occurs once every ten years that you can expect to experience every year. The cattle don't seem to mind the winter, at least there's no bugs bugging them. I'll be starting an inside remodeling project this week and so probably won't be blogging much as I'll be busy kickin' up a lot of dust inside.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy Moo Year!

PDCA - One Google