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, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Cannock Chase put the Cow into Council

UK -

'Cannock Chase Council Countryside Service is unique amongst local authority countryside services in this area as the only one that manages it's countryside areas with the help of it's own herd of Dexter cows.

Unimproved, species rich grassland has never been fertilized, drained, ploughed or reseeded to make it agriculturally productive. It is special because of it's rarity, and the wildlife that lives in it. This type of grassland is just 0.4% of this district's land area.

Grazing provides a structure to pastures, meadows and heathland that cannot be reproduced by other management methods. The rich legacy of wildlife on unimproved grasslands evolved because of centuries of management by grazing animals.

Despite being a more effective way of managing land for wildlife than cutting the low number of working hours needed to graze cows in a low stocking way makes them very cost effective. Cows are a sustainable way managing land. They do not need petrol, oil and do not pollute and apart from an odd moo they quietly get on with the job.'

Related download
- Dexter Cows Grazing

Thursday, October 27, 2005

PDCA Record - Winter Issue

This reminds me that I need to go replace a belt on the tractor before winter but in the meantime, you can show me your snowy Dexters. It's getting to be that time again where it's close to the November deadline for submissions for the PDCA Record. Since this will be the winter issue if you have some good winter photos of your Dexters send them to Patrice. Also, if you have an article or wish to place a classified advertisement be sure to get these to the PDCA Editor by November 1st in order for them to be included in this winter wonderland issue.

The PDCA Record
Patrice Lewis, Editor
1305 Canyon Ridge Lane
Plummer, ID 83851
(208) 686-0627


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rotational Grazing

'Rotational grazing is periodically moving livestock to fresh paddocks, to allow pastures to regrow. Rotational grazing requires skillful decisions and close monitoring of their consequences. Modern electric fencing and innovative water-delivery devices are important tools. Feed costs decline and animal health improves when animals harvest their own feed in a well-managed rotational grazing system. Included are lists of resources for further research and other ATTRA publications related to rotational grazing.'

Livestock Systems Guide
ATTRA Publication #IP086

An Iowa farmer once said he hoped that scientists would soon discover that "animals like to move around and grass likes to stand still."

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sand bedding...

Good management helps reduce the mastitis risk
by Jonathan Long
Farmers Weekly - UK

'Managing mastitis in a large herd can be troublesome, particularly with unskilled labour and a high throughput parlour, but implementing strict management protocols is overcoming difficulties.

Dorset-based milk producer Nick Cobb told British Mastitis Conference delegates in Warks that installing a 24-point rotary parlour in 1997 had caused almost as many problems as it solved.

"We thought it would improve cow management and yields.

But instead it increased mastitis levels, with more than 20 cows receiving treatment at any time."

This resulted in a change of vet practice and the employment of a milking technology specialist to help identify problem areas and propose new strategies to solve them.

"All cows were housed in straw yards, so stocking densities were lowered to reduce the risk of infection being picked up from bedding.

The herd also moved to three-times-a-day milking to make up for wasted milk and a full udder preparation routine was implemented, including pre-milking spray, wipe and post-milking spray."

But it was a visit to the USA in 2001 which provided the impetus for Mr Cobb to dramatically change his management system.

"It was the first time I'd really studied intensive dairy units and seen cows housed on sand.

"Once I returned home we created a budget to build a 300-cow, sand-based system.

Then, after careful consideration, we decided to shut down one of the three units we had at that time and invest the money in the sand-based unit.

"Moving cows to sand resulted in an immediate reduction in clinical cases and saw somatic cell counts drop rapidly."

Now the farm has 600 cows all on one site.

All cows are bedded on sand and milked through the 24-point rotary parlour.

"We have a clearly established milking routine, with one milker dusting sand from teats and pre-cleaning teats and a second drying teats and putting clusters on."

While this has reduced mastitis, there are still some cases.

"With a number of eastern European staff milking cows, we now have a set protocol.

Any cows showing signs of mastitis are milked into a bucket and put into the hospital cow area.

"A sample is then taken and frozen with relevant antibiotic treatment administered.

Any drugs are administered by the herd manager to ensure cows are treated with the right drug and all withdrawal times are adhered to," said Mr Cobb.

The British Mastitis Conference is organised by the Institute of Animal Health and the Dairy Group.'

Saturday, October 22, 2005

'Cows in Shining Armor'

By Jim Lovel

'For the ninth consecutive year, Chick-fil-A will begin selling its cow calendars in its restaurants at the end of this month.

The 2006 calendars feature the Atlanta-based restaurant chain's iconic bovines as renaissance heroes in this year's theme, "Cows in Shining Armor." The pages showcase some of the era's most famous legends, such as Angus Kahn, Charbroilemagne, Boldhoof and Lady Guineveal, in action scenes. The calendars cost $5, and each month contains a discount coupon for Chick-fil-A food.

The popularity of the calendars has increased each year. Chick-fil-A said it sold 337,000 copies of the calendar the first year. Last year, it printed 2.3 million copies, more than double the 1 million copies of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit calendar, and this year printed 1.5 million copies.

"We had no idea the cow calendar would be such an integral part of our marketing mix when we began producing them nine years ago," said Steve Robinson, the company's senior vice president of marketing. "Our customers love the coupon offers, but many buy the calendars year after year just for the comical cow illustrations."

Chick-fil-A's longtime ad agency, The Richards Group in Dallas, produces the calendars. Richards developed the "Eat mor chikin" campaign for the restaurant in 1995 with a single three-dimensional billboard of two cows painting the tagline on an outdoor display. The campaign has spread to print, television and radio ads and made the self-preserving cows the trademark image of the company.

The company said restaurant sales have tripled to $1.74 billion from just more than $500 million when the campaign began. Chick-fil-A operates 1,210 restaurants in 38 states and Washington, D.C.'

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Home of Dexter Beef

Here's a very good Dexter breeder's web site from the UK complete with some recipes:


In the site's Background link there's a suggestion that Dexters on a purely grass based diet are best at 3 years of age. Some breeders have reported good success when supplementing with grain finishing at 15 months. Mine have always been supplemented and while not holding to any rigid schedule I've been pleased with the results at around two years of age.

During the days when short legged bulls were being promoted among the beef breeds one of the reasons was earlier maturation. So in that 15 month to 3 year age range, along with diet, it wouldn't surprise me of some differences between short and long legged types of Dexters.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Quiet Mowers: Cows are good for environment

By Amy Thomas
Kernersville Journal

'Contrary to public perception, cows are quite useful to the environment. I know most think that cows are stinky creatures that make these unsightly paths through beautiful green fields.

There is some truth to that. And cows love wild onion, which makes their breath a little strong. They also burp a lot as part of their digestive process.

Cows have four compartments to their stomachs, which makes them very efficient at digesting grass. Cows will consume a lot of forage in a short period; they swallow without chewing.

When they are lounging, they burp up the consumed forage (cud) and chew it up good so it can be digested in another part of their stomach.

That is like a person enjoying a chocolate bar repeatedly.

Cows can be very good environmental helpers if managed properly. If cows are happy and healthy and the temperatures are not excessively high, they will graze for up to 10 hours a day. A tractor will not do that without gas.

When they are dry, their ideal outside temperature is 32 degrees. Keeping excessive leaf matter down can control some of the dangers of wildfires.

One cow can keep one acre of land mowed for a year with very little supplement. And a cow does not complain or rust in the rain.

While they are grazing, they are depositing fertilizer (manure and urine). Unlike horses, cows will distribute fertilizer over the entire field instead of leaving it all in one place. They walk and spread, just like those little red fertilizer- spreaders that you push around your yard.

Cows' fertilizer is actually better than commercial fertilizers because it contains more carbon. Carbon makes it easier for plants to absorb the nutrients they need. Thus, cows are self-propelled premium-fertilizer spreaders.

When cows mosey across the green fields, their hooves act like aerators. This is good for the environment because it allows oxygen to get to the roots of the plant to help it grow. Also, if the ground is not aerated, a compaction layer or crust can form at the surface, which causes nutrients to run into the streams.

If I could compare a cow to a piece of mechanical equipment, it would be like a tractor with a 60-inch deck with an extra gas tank, a fertilizer attachment and an aerator attachment run by a robot. It would have to have emission controls.'

Amy Thomas is an agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, she specializes in livestock for Forsyth and Stokes counties.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

True or False?

Most quality Dexters are under 42 inches.

False. Most Dexter breed standards specify the height of bulls to be 38" to 44" and cows to be no less than 36" and up to 42". All Dexters that fall within the breed standards merit equal consideration for quality based on the individual animal. If one was to use height as a measurement for "quality" then Dexters on the bottom of the height scale would generally be of lesser quality due to the problems inherited with chondrodysplasia.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

American Royal

Busy times but I'm headed to the 2005 American Royal Livestock Show this week which is one of the oldest and most prestigious shows in the country. It's a great place to dust off and wear my PDCA cap and talk to other cattle folk about Dexters. So while I'm not here much, with my cap and my PDCA shirt I'll be a walking billboard for the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association among the masses for awhile. Best of all, there are some good looking cows there.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Cattle grazing may help rather than hurt endangered species

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

'An article published in the latest issue of Conservation Biology finds that cattle grazing plays an important role in maintaining wetland habitat necessary for some endangered species. Removing cattle from grazing lands in the Central Valley of California could, inadvertently, degrade the vernal pool habitat of fairy shrimp and tiger salamanders. Cattle grazing influences the rates of evaporation which work together with climate to determine the depth and duration of wetland flooding. Cattle have been grazing in the land for roughly 150 years and have become a naturalized part of the ecosystem. "In practical terms, this means that grazing may help sustain the kinds of aquatic environments endangered fairy shrimps need to survive," author Christopher R. Pyke states.

The authors looked at 36 vernal pools on two different geologic formations on a 5000-ha ranch in eastern Sacramento County, California. Their experiments found that removal of grazing reduced the duration of wetland flooding by an average of 50 days per year. Their simulations show that climate change could compound these impacts, potentially, leaving endangered fairy shrimp and tiger salamanders without enough time to mature before their temporary aquatic environments disappear. "Consequently, land managers can play an important role in climate change impacts, i.e. they can exacerbate or ameliorate, the local impacts of global change." Pyke adds. Conservationists may find that grazing is not always a negative factor, and it presents real opportunities to adapt to climate variability and climate change.'

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

PDCA Online Pedigree Update

One of the perks of being a PDCA Officer is that I've been afforded the opportunity to test out the PDCA's online pedigree as it's being constructed. Today I got to peek at the sampling of pedigree photos which was neat. The Public Area is near completion and Doug is now working on the more extensive features in the Members Area. So the Public Area should be open soon and everyone will be able to play around and have fun with all the animal search features just as I've had the opportunity to do. We're getting close and I believe most of you are going to be very impressed with the PDCA's online pedigree program.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

October morning...

...with Rylee and Maria.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Dexter Bulls Weigh In

A Texas Dexter breeder's web site caught my eye and piqued my interest in this weighty topic when I recently read on their site:

Bulls should be 38-44" at the shoulder; not more than 1200 lb.

Perhaps everything's bigger in Texas but Dexter breed standards in America generally list something like the following:

Bulls at three years old and over should not exceed 1000 lbs. live weight.

Interestingly, W. R. Thrower's book "The Dexter Cow" originally published in 1954 states:

Bulls should not exceed 900 lb. live weight.

This coincides with what was stated about Dexters in "Breeds of Livestock in America" published in 1931:

Mature bulls should not weigh over 900 lbs.

Another interesting point is that Kerry bulls in the same book are listed as about 1,250 lbs.

Here's a link for a comparison of weights in a few other beef breeds:

Typical modern beef cattle - part 1

Friday, October 07, 2005

Irish Headlines

Vet says cattle are getting more violent

'A Co Mayo vet has warned that cattle are becoming increasingly violent towards human beings due to changes in farm practices.

George O'Malley said cross-breeding had introduced more wild breeds of cattle into the national herd, creating serious health and safety risks.

He also said cattle were becoming less domesticated because part-time farming meant they did not come into contact with humans as often as before.'

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Does thunder cause milk to turn sour?

'The popular belief that thunderstorms cause milk to turn sour is very old. In 1739 John Mottley published Joe Miller's Jests, or Wit's Vade Mecum (commonly called Joe Miller's Joke Book), which contained more than a thousand jokes, each with a serial number. No. 997 asserted that "the celebrated organist Abbe Vegler" once imitated "a thunderstorm so well that for miles around all the milk turned sour." The belief may have a slight foundation in fact. In 1939 scientists in Toledo, Ohio, announced that they could sour milk by sound waves and then sweeten it again by reversing the process. Originally the belief was that the electricity in the atmosphere during a thunderstorm caused the milk to sour sooner than it normally would. There used to be a notion that an electrical storm had the same effect on beer. It is probable, however, that there is not much connection between thunder and the souring of milk. Thunderstorms frequently occur toward the end of hot summer days. On such days milk is also likely to turn sour. This may be the only connection between the storm and the souring of milk, which is caused by the growth of bacteria.'

From "A Book About A Thousand Things" by George Stimpson.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Brave New Cows:

technology to choose sex could change agriculture industry
By Judy Monchuk

CALGARY (CP) - 'Sex in the barnyard may never be the same.

A new process that appears to allow farmers to choose the sex of their cows and pigs in artificial insemination has the potential to revolutionize commercial agriculture.

But these aren't mad scientists using genetic technology to manipulate a species, stresses Dr. Peter Blecher, whose father Stan developed the process at the University of Guelph.

"We're just removing the sperm of the sex we don't want," said Blecher, founder of Sequent Biotechnologies, whose sperm-sexing technology inspired a recent friendly takeover by Microbix Biosystems Inc. (TSX:BMX).

"There's no manipulation of genetic material at all. The sperm that's used in the ultimate fertilization is untouched in any way."

The patented technology uses an antibody that can clump together all the sex-specific proteins in a semen sample and remove whatever sex is not wanted. That can mean major opportunities for producers who have only a 50 per cent chance of getting the sex of animal they want through artificial insemination.

The desire to pre-determine sex has been an issue for centuries.

"Since King Henry VIII started chopping the heads off his wives it's been something that's been a riddle to scientists," said Blecher. The British monarch executed two of his six wives, blaming them for not being able to produce male heirs.

But while baby determination is an ethical minefield among humans, it represents billions in increased efficiency to livestock producers around the world. For example, dairy farmers obviously prefer offspring to be milk-producing females.

Beef producers prefer male calves, which convert feed into lean muscle mass far faster than females. That can have huge implications to cattle ranchers who operated on razor-thin margins even before the mad cow crisis ravaged the industry. Female pigs are easier to control.

"Look at any major global business that's operating on a 50 per cent inefficiency," said Blecher. "That would be considered disastrous by any standards."

Dairy operator Michael Hall says the technology, if proven, would be a natural evolution of the artificial insemination industry.'

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Ancient Holy Cow Statuette Reveals Realistic Art

Tehran, (CHN) –

'The discovered holy statuette of a cow indicates that a kind of realistic art trend existed during the first millennium BC.

In the recent archaeological excavations in Gohar Tepe, in Mazandaran, several statuettes and rhytons shaped like cows and used in religious ceremonies were discovered, one of which is left almost intact.'

PDCA - One Google