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, February 27, 2006

Headed to the "grassy place".

I don't imagine Wisconsin will look like the picture this time of year but Beloit, Wisconsin, is where I'll be this week. Attending some of the PDCA Classification meetings scheduled through Wednesday. With both Vice Presidents, some Area Managers, and members, the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America should be well represented.

Wisconsin means "grassy place" in the Chippewa language.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Since comments can sometimes be overlooked I felt that these left on our NAIS posting from January by Walter Jeffries deserved a place of their own. In a short time NoNAIS.org has become a leading resource for information and in tracking NAIS.

Thank you for writing about NAIS. More people need to know how NAIS is going to hurt small farmers and homesteaders and then ultimately consumers as our national food supply becomes consolidated into the hands of fewer and fewer larger corporations. Even vegetarians will pay the price because good organic veggies are grown in composts of animal manure. With fewer animals being raised organically in the traditional manner there will be less manure.

I have setup a blog at http://NoNAIS.org to track NAIS.

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm

Rustling on the rise in Missouri, across U.S.

By Kevin Murphy - The Kansas City Star

Rustling is not just a crime of the Old West, Missouri ranchers have learned after a series of livestock thefts that now are the focus of a statewide investigation.

Working usually at night, thieves have stolen hundreds of cattle in 29 counties during the past year, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol. In all, some $500,000 in cattle disappeared in at least 82 incidents, state officials said.

“They are pretty brazen,” said Bob Herndon, who raises cattle near Marionville in southwest Missouri.

Herndon should know. In October, someone got through fences on Herndon’s property as he slept and made off with 25 calves in a large trailer.

“They put them in my corral, sorted them and took what they wanted,” Herndon said.

Presumably, stolen cattle are sold at auction barns to unsuspecting buyers. Cattle are bringing rising prices, and $800 per head is not unusual, said Brent Bryant, executive vice president of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.

With more than 2.1 million head, Missouri is second only to Texas in beef cattle numbers, and the rash of thefts has drawn the attention of Gov. Matt Blunt, who last week created a task force to address the problem. Most of the cattle were reported stolen in the southwest and central areas of the state.

“Missouri has long been a proud agricultural state, and we will simply not tolerate these crimes against honest, law-abiding citizens,” Blunt said.

Kansas has not experienced a recent spike in cattle thefts, said George Teagarden, livestock commissioner for the state Animal Health Department.

But Missouri is not alone in the rustling problem.

“It appears the trend is increasing nationally,” said Gregg Doud, chief economist for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

As an example, the Houston Chronicle reported that thieves had made off with about 450 head of cattle worth at least $500,000 from suburban Houston counties in the last six months.

Doud attributed the rise in thefts to a 50 percent increase in cattle prices in the past five years.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Historical Review of Cattle Type

Mostly of Angus and Herefords, but lots of good early photos showing the changes and different swings in cattle type that have occurred since the mid - 1700's. Also informative Power Point sets.

Historical Review of Cattle Type

Friday, February 24, 2006

Faberge Dexter Bull

A PDCA - One Blog reader graciously brought attention to this link to The Royal Collection of a Dexter Bull carved by Carl Faberge in 1907, bought by Queen Alexandra.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Calving times three

Rare triplets arrive at Valley City ranch.

Not Dexters but still cute.

Wauchope Lasiandra Festival

New South Wales, Australia

'A wide range of community events have been included in this years festival, copies of the festival programme may be picked up from various business houses around town or from the Port Macquarie- Hastings Council Wauchope office.

The festival kicks off on Saturday 11th March with the Alternate Farming & Lifestyle Field Days hosted by the Lasiandra Committee at the Wauchope Showground. Gates open at 9.00am with entry just $ 2.00 / adult and kids under 12 admitted FREE.

The field days will continue on Sunday 12th March. Over 100 exhibitors will be on hand to discuss and show their alternative industry including Dexter cattle, crayfish, angora goats, olives, compost worms, miniature Galloway cattle, herbs and herbal products, caramelized nuts, native foods, alpaca, native plants, chilli, snails, organic produce, bromeliads, noni juice plus lots more!'

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Got Cow Names?

The “Got Cow Names Contest

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bull soundness - structural

This is an excerpt pertaining to "shoulders" but I recommend reading the entire NSW Agriculture’s Bull soundness - structural page as it provides some key points to look for in the selection of a bull.

The shoulders

The shoulders and front leg structure of the bull are shown in Figure 1 below. The shoulders are naturally sloping. A slope of 45–60 degrees is considered acceptable. A beast whose shoulder blade is tipped forward (straight-shouldered) has less angle at the shoulder joint and elbow joint and this reduces the shock-absorbing ability of these front joints.

Figure 1. Front leg and shoulder structure of the bull

The straight-shouldered bull tends to walk with a short choppy gait. He will carry his head low and may have difficulty raising his head much above his backline. Quite often the tip of the shoulder blade is prominent above his backline.

Usually, a bull that is straight in the shoulder will also be straight in the hind leg. These bulls are particularly prone to early breakdown through the wearing of the leg joints, and the onset of arthritis. While many straight-shouldered bulls will break down in the hind leg, they are also more susceptible to arthritis in the pasterns and knees of the front leg. Straight-shouldered bulls may also be straight in the pasterns, causing rapid wearing of the front of the hooves.

The shoulder should be smooth against the rib cage. Bulls whose shoulders are wide at the point of the shoulder (the base of the neck) or wide between the shoulder blades (when observed from above) may throw heavily shouldered calves, increasing the chance of calving problems (see Figure 2).

Bulls with straight shoulders may also affect the ease of calving. Any deviation away from the normal angles of the calf may produce an abnormal calf shape, causing calving difficulty.

It should be remembered that many things affect calving difficulty, and that calf size (weight) in relation to dam pelvic size will have the greatest effect on ease of calving.

Monday, February 20, 2006

President's Day ~

William Henry Harrison kept one goat and one cow named Sukey. Harrison got pneumonia on Inauguration Day and died after only one month in office.

Abe Lincoln's mother died when the family dairy cow ate poisonous mushrooms and Ms. Lincoln drank the milk. Lincoln was probably the most tragic president but did you know that he once offered to use cow dung in a duel?

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first U.S. President to have a presidential aircraft. He only flew on the airplane, a specially equipped Douglas DC-4 nicknamed "The Sacred Cow."

President William Taft kept a cow on the White House lawn to supply him with fresh milk. He was the last president to do so. The cow, Pauline Wayne, was a favorite pet.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

First Calf of 2006

One degree above zero yesterday morning and looked what showed up in my pasture.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

PDCA Classifieds

It's good to see more PDCA members taking advantage of the free advertising on the PDCA website. I'm going to send him a PDCA t-shirt, but I thought this picture of Jack Shipley and his calf in his ad says it best regarding Dexters.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Short & Long

Gabriella Nanci's article which explains "Short Legged & Long Legged Dexters".

Also see "A DNA Test for Chondrodysplasia in Dexter Cattle" which gives the physical measurement data and impact of the presence of the chondrodysplasia gene on the height of Dexters.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Roy T. Berg, Professor Emeritus
University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta

I posted this excerpt on a discussion concerning chondrodysplasia testing and thought it might be of interest here. Particularly to those interested in how associations dealt with this in days before dna testing.

"Dwarfism had reached a level of serious concern by 1955, particularly in the Hereford breed which was the dominant beef breed in Alberta at that time. There was pressure on me as a budding geneticist to help solve the Dwarfism problem. My approach was not popular. I felt that Dwarfism was caused by what breeders had been doing, not by any act of God or disease. The most likely cause was the emphasis, particularly in the Show Ring, on a "Compact" type characterized by short legs, short and thick body accompanied by very slow growth rate and reduced body size. The Hereford breed elected to go on a pedigree "Witch Hunt" purging those with any relationship to a Dwarf in five generations. I believe vestiges of this witch hunt still exist, although the prevalence of dwarfism has long passed. Reversing the selection basis to an emphasis on growth rate and size eliminated the "compact" animal which was the prime source (as a heterozygote) of the Dwarfism gene."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


'Cryptorchidism is a failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum. Testes retained within the abdomen suffer thermal suppression of spermatogenesis—the normal temperature of the scrotum necessary for spermatogenesis is between 1 and 8°F (0.5-4.5°C) below the normal body temperature.Bilateral cryptorchidism results in sterility; unilateral cryptorchidism is more common, and fertility is usually near normal because of normal sperm production from the testicle located in the scrotum. Cryptorchidism is seen in all domestic animals but is most common in stallions and boars. The undescended testicle may be located anywhere from just caudal of the kidney to within the inguinal canal. Abdominal testicles produce male hormones, and cryptorchids have normal secondary sex characteristics and mating behavior. It is reported that cryptorchidism in the horse is inherited as a dominant trait, while in other species it is a recessive trait. Because of the inherited nature of the condition, unilateral cryptorchids should not be used for breeding. Because cryptorchid testicles may become neoplastic, affected animals should be castrated.'

The Merck Veterinary Manual

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

"I Love Cow" Quiz.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Unlocking the Mysteries of Cows

Baxter Black: Unlocking the Mysteries of Cows
Commentator Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian. He is not a magician -- but he has seen cows levitate. Black takes a look at the unusual side effects of cow "bloat."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

"My Dexter Steer"

Story in the Spring 2006 PDCA Record.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Animal Identification

This letter was posted on the Slow Food Forum-

Ron Freeman... Central Illinois
Cow/calf producer in West Central Illinois
Past director of a Breed Association
President of a regional satellite marketing program

I have read and reread most of the dialogue written about the need for animal identification. Nothing that I have read warrants such a redundant program that seems to be full of cost overruns and less than competent administration. Before we step into another program engineered by companies that operate on the periphery of our industry, with costs that will probably outdistance predictions, maybe we should expose this concept for what it really is.

One thing to be cognizant of is the fact that we have always had animal ID (fire brand) and trace back. That is precisely how we have all but eradicated theft of our cattle and bangs from our cowherds. And, I may add, that we have done that without the intervention of corporate America.

The proponents of this program are using fear and financial gain in the same dialogue. On one hand, they want to create this belief to the consumer that bio-terrorism will strike the meat industry and widespread death will occur. On the other, they are telling producers that premiums will be paid for ID cattle. And, that those premiums will far out weigh the cost (How many times have we heard something like that ?).

But what are the costs going to be? No one has given any real concrete evidence of costs. Only speculation. In one industry paper, the publisher used words like we “think” this is what it will cost and we “hope” this will be the premiums. Any profitable business that foresees a new venture on the horizon first develops a cost analysis to see if it will be a sound financial move. Then, and only then, does it proceed. Is this what the tag and software companies have done ?

If one segment of the industry wants it while another segment pays for it, it will be a cost effective move for the company that desires it. If that segment can inflate the price of the finished product to foreign markets because of animal ID while another pays for it, how great is that? It appears to me that those who are pushing so hard for animal ID are building the cart first and then will decide how many horses it will take to pull it and whose stable the horses will come from. Or maybe they don’t care. Maybe, their ones that stand to gain the most by it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the financial windfall a company will experience by such a program. All one has to do is to add up all the cattle traded on any given week, month or year. Then, multiply that by what an ID is supposed to cost.

But, what if the projected cost (used loosely) is not $3.00 pr head. What if the cost runs up to $20 or even $30 a head?

If you think this is far fetched, ask an Australian cattleman what he is paying. The president of the Australia Beef Association called it the worst one single thing ever to hit their cattlemen. They were told the cost would be $3.00 a head. It is now $37.00 a head and still rising.

There are leaders in our industry that have not told the whole truth about animal ID in other countries. They have openly misled us into believing that it has worked. And please keep in mind that animal id is not a cure for anything other than low profits in companies wishing to sell products connected to the ID concept.

All I am saying is that we must have in black and white what the true costs will be and what part of the industry will fund it and lastly, what are the legitimate benefits to us as producers. Then and only then can we as producers calculate the true effectiveness of the program. Where will we be financially if the market goes south? Will it take the profit on a given calf to ID that calf? It costs an average of $350 to run a cow per year. If a 500 lb. calf price dips to $70, where will the money come from to ID that animal?

As a fifth generation cattleman who believes Mother Nature is the greatest teacher and common sense the greatest guide, I can see ABSOLUTELY NO VALUE in this program. We have become a group of symptom treating cattlemen while allowing companies to control us through their marketing and advertising. The whole animal ID program has the same stench of corporate corruption found in so many aspects of our culture today.

It is time we return to a management plan based upon production efficiency. A plan based upon eliminating the problems that occur and not just treating the symptoms that appear. By doing this, we can eliminate the need for outside expenditures called on so often by so many cattlemen of today. Profit in the cattle business can be achieved through hard work and diligently applying principles that produce a calf for every cow at weaning on nothing more than grass and mother’s milk.


Ron Freeman
Freeman Bros. Ranching
Jacksonville, IL

Friday, February 10, 2006

Beef of the Future?

Let's hope it's pastured raised Dexter cattle because this seems kind of creepy to me:

Paper Says Edible Meat Can be Grown in a Lab on Industrial Scale

Prime Without the Rib

The idea of culturing meat is to create an edible product that tastes like cuts of beef, poultry, pork, lamb or fish and has the nutrients and texture of meat.

Scientists know that a single muscle cell from a cow or chicken can be isolated and divided into thousands of new muscle cells. Experiments with fish tissue have created small amounts of in vitro meat in NASA experiments researching potential food products for long-term space travel, where storage is a problem.

"But that was a single experiment and was geared toward a special situation - space travel," says Matheny. "We need a different approach for large scale production."

Matheny's team developed ideas for two techniques that have potential for large scale meat production. One is to grow the cells in large flat sheets on thin membranes. The sheets of meat would be grown and stretched, then removed from the membranes and stacked on top of one another to increase thickness.

The other method would be to grow the muscle cells on small three-dimensional beads that stretch with small changes in temperature. The mature cells could then be harvested and turned into a processed meat, like nuggets or hamburgers.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

New meat regs may end small farmers' way of life.

By Heather Ramsay - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

There is a woman in Skidegate who has been buying a side of beef from Richardson Ranch on Haida Gwaii since 1955. The steaks and roasts she's been eating all these years come from animals raised on meandering grasslands by the sea; a 20 minute drive up the coast.

The family she buys from has been operating Richardson's Ranch since the early part of the 20th century - five generations of friendly transactions between farmer and customer.

But Don Richardson, great-great-grandson of the Richardsons who settled on these islands in 1919, is worried about new provincial meat inspection regulations, which may make it difficult for him and other small farm operators to sell meat to friends and neighbours.

The regulations seek to introduce a province-wide standard for meat sold to the public. Not only will animals have to be inspected pre and post-mortem, but they must be slaughtered in an inspected plant too. This new meat inspection regulation is part of the Food Safety Act and was adopted in 2004.


'We will continue to slaughter'

Vincent raises rare breeds of livestock including Irish Dexter cattle, Shetland sheep and Buff Orpington hens. Ironically, he says, people who eat his animals are also contributing to the preservation of these unique strains of animals, an effort that would be lost if his farm can't continue.

If the new rules force him out of business, he is incensed by the thought of people in his area left with no other option than buying "rubbish from factory-farmers who don't care about their products."

"We will continue to slaughter. We have to. I don't mean to sound defiant," says Richardson, whose island-based ranch is a six-hour ferry ride away from the mainland.

Right now, he has two older cows. One has arthritis and he says he can't send her on the ferry. Not only does it cost him $1,000 each way to put his trailer on, but it is a stressful journey. Depending on the weather, the ferry can be delayed more than 24 hours, after its been loaded. He prefers to deal with the life of his cow himself.

The part that really gets to Richardson is if he slaughters the animals for his own use, he is within the law. The minute he sells meat to his neighbour, he is a criminal.

Richardson understands the regulation. It is designed to protect the consumer in a faceless system. Once a steer is shipped, he says, it is handled so many times before it's in the supermarket, there is next to no connection to the farmer.

But since he doesn't sell beef to anyone he doesn't know, he says it is a matter of philosophy.

"It comes down to a question of whether the government should be involved in a contract between you and me," he says.

"I don't want to export beef, or have it at the local meat counter or in local restaurants. I'll sell it directly to you and if you don't like it, you'll bring it back to me."

Read complete article here

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dexter Country

Saw this on ebay.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Calving Signs

The following excerpt and drawing from "The Dexter Cow and Cattle Keeping on a Small Scale" by W. R. Thrower may be of interest to those waiting and watching for signs of their first Dexter calf.

Fig. 12. Hand in groove by the pin bone

'A number of things happen during the final stages of a cow's pregnancy. About three weeks before she calves her shape alters perceptibly, due to the calf getting lower in the pelvis. In heifers this is very obvious. At the same time bagging-up, or enlargement of the udder, proceeds apace, but the udder does not usually become really tense till about twenty-four hours before delivery. For about a fortnight before delivery the tail region becomes very swollen, but the swelling subsides as the calving day approaches, and the extent of this swelling is, for Dexters anyway, one of the best guides to the timetable. The depth of the groove between the pin bone (see Fig. 12) and the end of the spine is the other sign commonly employed to estimate the imminence of calving, but must be taken with due appreciation of the other indications described. The signs of imminent calving are most useful when a cow or heifer has been running with a bull and her exact service date is unknown.'

Monday, February 06, 2006

PDCA Classification/Type Conference

A Classification and Type conference will be held March 1st in Wisconsin. Several of the PDCA Board members, myself included, will be attending the Classification and Type Conference and also meeting to plan and review this year's upcoming agenda. Tuesday evening the 28th, plans are for a consultory meeting with Dave Kendall, Executive Secretary of the Milking Shorthorn Society. Dave's experience and input should be a benefit organizationally to Dexter cattle breeders of the PDCA.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

PDCA Online Pedigree - database update

Doug Meyer has just finished updating the PDCA Online Pedigree database having updated the Members, Herd, and Transfers tables. He reports that the process went pretty smoothly and to let him know if you have any comments or questions. Doug is beginning work now on the PDCA Herd Book.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Dexter Collage

Playing around with one of the photo programs...

"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still." -- Dorothea Lange

Friday, February 03, 2006

Ringworm of Cattle

There was also a recent discussion of this topic on the UK Discussion board with some older remedies.

Ringworm of Cattle
R. L. Morter, D.V.M., C. James Callahan, D.V.M.
School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University


Ringworm is caused by infection of the hair and surface layers of the skin by fungi. It occurs in all species of animals including man. Fungal infections cause little, if any, permanent damage or economic loss. However, because ringworm is a transmissable infectious disease, animals with lesions are barred from exhibitions or shows by regulations of the State Board of Animal Health.

Infection of the skin and hair of cattle is most frequently due to Trichophyton verrucosum, a spore forming fungi. Spores are shed from the lesion by broken hairs or scabs from the lesion. The spores remain alive for years in a dry environment; and because they do, halters, grooming equipment, or even a barn can remain infective for years.


Direct contact with infected animals, particularly with cattle confined to a barn, is a common method of spreading the fungi. Some infected calves have a degree of natural immunity that prevents development of lesions; however, they can be a source of infection. Show calves are frequently infected from spore contaminated equipment that has not been properly cleaned.

Spores germinate and attack the shafts of the hair and the surface layers of the skin. Exudate oozes from the damaged skin and mixes with debris from skin and hair, thereby forming a crusty scab. The scab is grey-white and noticeably higher than the surrounding skin. Infection spreads from the center outwards and results in the circular lesion 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Adjacent lesions may overlap and create larger infected areas. Lesions are most frequent on the head and neck, but they may be found over the entire body in severe cases. Scabs may fall from older lesions and leave a hairless area in the center, one that has a ring of exudate at the edge. Hence, the name ringworm.


Many of the treatments appear successful because of spontaneous recovery shortly after treatment has been started. Ringworm is frequently severe in confined cattle during the winter; spontaneous recovery occurs in the spring and summer. Topical treatment, application of the medication directly onto the lesion, is the usual procedure. Medication cannot penetrate the crusts; the crusts should be removed by scraping or brushing. They should be collected and burned to avoid contaminating the premises. Lesions should be treated at least twice, three to five days apart. Topical application of a 2% solution of iodine, Whitfield's ointment (also used to treat athlete's foot in man), or thiabendazole paste are all suitable. Oral griseofulvin may be used but the prolonged treatment and expense of the drug make it impractical in all but valuable animals.


Vaccines are not available. But, cleaning and disinfecting barns with a strong detergent followed by a solution of 1 gallon of household bleach diluted with 3 gallons of water does a good job. Halters and grooming equipment can be disinfected with bleach or a 4% solution of formaldehyde. At the first sign of the lesions of ringworm, topical treatment should be started. Reducing the density of animals and direct contact in addition to increased exposure to sunlight and being maintained on dry lots help prevent the spread between animals.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Happy Groundhog Day!

If you're a groundhog... today is your day.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Saint Brigid

'February 1st is the feast day of Saint Brigid, the spiritual protector of sheep and cattle. According to tradition, she was born at sunrise as her mother, a Druid's slave, carried milk across the threshold of her master's house. In the same way, her feast falls on a seasonal crossroads--between winter and spring. When winter is fading and the power of the spring sun is increasing. Prior to the conversion of the Irish Celts, Saint Brigid's Day was known as Imbolc,one of four seasonal junctions in the pagan calendar of Ireland. It was the start of spring, and its name refers to "ewes' milk" and to the birth of farm animals. Imbolc was dedicated to the Celtic goddess Brigid, who was associated with learning, poetry, crafts and healing. Many of her pagan characteristics were retained when she was transformed into a saint.'

In The House Of The Druid

'A white red-eared cow was set aside for the child's sustenance, the old Lives say. A white cow was a rarity in Ireland in those days, when the native black cattle, that we call the Kerry breed, were all but universal; and the homely story conveys that an unusual respect was yielded to the infant Brigid.'

PDCA - One Google