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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Calving Season Approaching – Check your Cows!

Texas Cooperative Extension – AG News 12/05

'With today’s market and high input costs, death loss shouldn’t be tolerated. Throughout America thousands of cows and even more calves are lost each year at calving time. Even with best management practices in place, cow/calf producers should expect their cows to experience some difficult births. Increased herd monitoring, examining suspect cows, and taking proper, timely action are all critical in minimizing death loss at calving time. While calving difficulty is normally attributed to first calf heifers, all cows should be routinely checked during the upcoming calving season.

Cows should progress normally through the stages of labor. Uterine contractions position the calf to enter the birth canal (stage 1). The cervix dilates and the calf starts through. When the calf enters the birth canal, abdominal straining pushes him out (stage 2). Time is the most deadly enemy in all cases of calving difficulty. A calf has roughly 3 to 4 hours of oxygen supply after the cow’s water breaks. When time limits are approaching and no visible progress is being made, that’s when she needs your help. Improper positioning in stage 1 can lead to a breech calf, or one with his head turned back. In the case of a breech, the calf is turned backwards with his rump against the cervix and his hind legs pointing toward his ears. If no water bag is observed, there may be no other indication birth has begun. If you wait too long, the placenta will detach and the calf will die. Many times when the calf’s head is turned back, the feet will be exposed and all appears normal. Again, timing and careful monitoring are critical.

When you decide to intervene, care should be taken to protect the cow and calf from injury. If possible, put the cow in a processing chute and try to keep her up. This puts gravity on your side, while making it easier to get both arms into the birth canal and see what’s causing the problem. When repositioning calves, use lots of lubricant. When straightening legs or turning heads, keep your hand between the calf and the uterine wall to protect against tearing (hooves and noses can easily tear a large laceration in the uterus). A torn uterus is serious damage and must be surgically repaired.

If you have any longevity in the cow/calf business, you are bound to run into a problem that requires professional assistance. If you are unable to correct breeches and turned heads quickly and easily, it is best to call your veterinarian. With first-calf heifers, many times the calf’s head is simply too big to fit through the pelvic cavity. In this case, a caesarean should be performed. The most difficult decision to make is whether or not to intervene. As long as you stay clean and well lubricated, you should cause no damage by simply examining her. Most calves lost at birth are normal, healthy calves who’s mother just needed a little help. If you are there to give them the required assistance and act in a timely fashion, birth losses should be cut below 1%, which will hopefully translate into a healthier bottom line.'

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bottle of beer works wonder on sick cow


A farmer is toasting the health of a cow which made a wonder recovery after being treated with beer.

Tony Baskett and his wife Lavender, who are both in their 70s and live in Theberton, Suffolk, feared that their cow, Lottie, would die after she developed a stomach problem.

But a vet suggested treating Lottie with yeast - so Mr Baskett fed her Adnams beer from a bottle.

Now Lottie has made a full recovery and given birth to a calf which the family have named Adnams.

"She was very ill and wouldn`t eat or drink", said Mrs Baskett.

"The vet who was treating her said she thought that brewers yeast might help cure the problem.

"She said she had heard of it being used in other countries and in England many years ago.

"So Tony approached the local pub and they gave him a barrel of Adnams which just had the dregs of the beer in the bottom.

"We put it in a bottle and pushed the bottle into Lottie`s mouth and got it down her that way.

"After a few months she made a full recovery and now to show how healthy she is she has given birth to a calf, which we have of course named Adnams.

"We`ve been farming for 48 years here and I have never heard of beer being used like this before. But apparently it was in the old days."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cattle & Lead Poisoning

Lead Poisoning

John H. Kirk, DVM, MPVM
Veterinary Medicine Extension
University of California Davis - Tulare, CA

One of the frequently encountered poisonings in cattle by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory is lead poisoning. Lead poisoning most commonly occurs in cattle when they ingest some form of lead. The common sources of lead in these cases are lead paint pigments from discarded boards or paint cans, electric storage batteries, used motor oil, grease from engines fueled with leaded gas and putties from plumbing fixtures. In a recent CAH&FS report, old auto batteries were found in a pasture where lead poisoning occurred and small pieces of the batteries were found in the rumen content of dying calves from the pasture. While lead gunshot is a current concern of beef processors, it not likely to cause lead poisoning in cattle unless fatally wounded.

The clinical signs of lead poisoning are usually related to central nervous system derangements even though the major necropsy findings maybe in the GI tract, liver and kidneys. The clinical signs may include any or all of the following:

Bawling with an altered voice
Frequent urination
Muscle trembling
Champing of jaws resulting in lots of salivation, slobbering and choking
Twitching of ears or lips
Rolling back of eyeballs
Walking in circles or head pushing on objects
Blindness and walking into objects

Most animals are also off feed and frequently constipated.

In dying cattle, the GI tract may be inflamed and ulcerated. As a result of the formation of lead sulfides in the bowel, the lining may appear dirty gray in color. Lesions may also be found in the liver, kidneys, brain and spinal cord. The clinical signs of lead poisoning may also suggest rabies or listeriosis. To confirm a diagnosis of lead poisoning, your veterinarian will probably submit samples of blood, feces or urine to the diagnostic laboratory. If a necropsy is done, kidney and liver samples may also be submitted for analyses. Treatment for suspected lead poisonings may include repeated doses of calcium EDTA and broad-spectrum antibiotics. When lead poisoning is suspected, cattle should be moved to another location and a thorough search of the premises should be undertaken to find and remove the lead source.

To prevent lead poisoning, dairy owners should insure that their workers are aware of the dangers from discarding any source of lead where cattle may have access to it. Lead poisoning need not be a problem on well-managed dairies and more often occurs when part-time farmers put cattle on junk laden pastures where undetected lead source lay in wait.

See also - Lead Poisoning In Cattle

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Beef Australia 2006

Beef Australia 2006 is being held from May 1 - 7, in Rockhampton, Queensland. The National Beef Exposition is the largest industry gathering for all of the Australian Beef Industry and is a showcase for the industry to the world. For more information go to the International Genetics Marketplace.

Monday, March 27, 2006

"Milking Dexters"

We have a new article "Milking Dexters" that will soon be included among the articles on the PDCA website. I believe that anyone with an interest in Dexter cattle will find "Milking Dexters" insightful and it should be of interest whether you're milking or not.

Also now added to the PDCA articles is a link to Gabriella Nanci's article "Short Legged & Long Legged Dexter Cattle". So we're slowly increasing the volume of our Dexter information which should benefit both breeders and buyers.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Beginning to green...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dexter cattle part of watershed program

Excerpt from Loudoun Times - Mirror:

Bob Peeler breeds Dexter cattle on a farm in Hillsboro. “We took advantage of the (Catoctin TMDL) cost share program because we believe in protecting the watershed” Peeler explained. “It was a very small amount of pasture to give up and as a small cattle breeder we don't want our operation to impact the water quality in any way. It's too bad some of the developers in the area don't feel the same way.”

Friday, March 24, 2006

State vet advises anthrax vaccinations for NW Minnesota cattle

ST. PAUL (AP) - 'State officials advised livestock producers in northwestern Minnesota to consider anthrax vaccinations for cattle grazing this summer.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health's recommendation is for the counties of Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, Polk, Pennington, Red Lake, Norman and Mahnomen.

Anthrax is a naturally occurring disease caused by a bacteria that can lie dormant in the soil for years. Heavy rains and flooding bring anthrax spores to the surface, where they can be ingested by grazing animals.

Some isolated cases of anthrax were reported in northwestern Minnnesota cattle last year.

Officials say the risk of humans developing anthrax from naturally occurring bacteria is very low. Minnesota has recorded no human cases of anthrax since 1953.'

Minnesota Board of Animal Health:

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Summer Wine Dun Dexters

I was sorry to hear of the death of Beverley McCulloch on March 21st. Dex-Info has a number of Dexter articles written by Beverley. One of my favorite Dexter websites would be Beverley and Michael's
Summer Wine Dun Dexters.

Condolences to the family.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bede's World - Dexter Oxen

Oswin the Dexter Ox

"Oswin is named after a seventh-century Northumbrian king and has lived at Bede's World since 1997 with his friend Edwin. Oswin can be distinguished by the small 'O' shape on the base of his left horn, and by the shape of the horns, which are wider than Edwin's and point upwards at the top."

Edwin the Dexter Ox

"Edwin is named after a seventh-century Northumbrian king. He has lived at Bede's World since 1997 with his friend, Oswin. Edwin can be distinguished by his horns, which are forward curving and blacker at the tip than Oswin's."

Bede's World

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Interesting UK Farm

Not a picture of a Dexter but of a Shetland steer. Dexters are though among the traditional rare breeds that the Dairy Barn Farm Shop uses for meat.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Happy Spring!

Vernal Equinox, 1:26 P.M. EST

The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning "equal night." The vernal, or spring, equinox is the point at which the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from south to north, signaling the beginning of nature's renewal in the Northern Hemisphere.
-- The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Today's weather forecast here is for cold, rain, sleet, and snow tonight.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Weather fronts and incidence of calving

'Producers often observe that changes in weather seem to trigger several cows or heifers to go into labor and deliver calves shortly following that change in weather. Foreign research in the 1960’s (Sommer) reported that fewer calvings were observed on days when a front was approaching and barometric pressure was falling, as compared to other days. A scientist for the University of Illinois (Dvorak, 1978; Animal Reprod. Sci. 1:3-7) examined the relationship between barometric pressure and the incidence of calving in 672 calvings over an 11 year period of time. Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn females ranging in age from 2 to 15 years were involved in the study. Atmospheric pressure readings were recorded twice each day at 7 am and 7 pm. The barometric pressure pattern relative to the time of calving all breeds as a group is shown below.

The barometric pressure pattern was that of a decline in the readings from day 3 before calving to day 1 before calving, followed by a rise in pressure. It was suggested that the changing pressure may have stressed dam or fetus sufficiently to stimulate corticoid secretion at a level that triggered the initiation of parturition. The sensitivity of the cow to this subtle climatic stress may be restricted to near-term pregnancies (those that are more than 270 days).'

Source: Dr. Glenn Selk, OSU Extension Cattle Reproduction Specialist

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Predicting the time of calving

Scientists recorded data on 5 consecutive years in a herd of spring calving crossbred cows at the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center at Hays, Kansas. They recorded the time of calving (to within the nearest one-half hour). Births that could not be estimated within an hour of occurrence were excluded. Cows were fed forage sorghum hay daily between 4:00 and 6:00 pm. For statistical purposes, the day was divided into four-hour periods.

Between 6:00 and 10:00 am, 34.23% of the calves were born;
Between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, 21.23% of the calves were born;
Between 2:00 and 6:00 pm 29.83% of the calves were born;
Between 6:00 and 10:00 pm, 8.41% of the calves were born;
Between 10:00 pm and 2:00 am, 4.4% of the calves were born; and
Between 2:00 am and 6 am, 1.91% of the calves were born.

It is interesting to note that 85.28% of the calves were born between 6:00 am. and 6:00 pm.

These data also revealed that for a majority of a animals in the herd, the time of calving was within 3 hours of the average time of day that cow had previously given birth. Feeding the forage in the early evening hours undoubtedly influenced the percentage of cows calving in daylight hours. Source: Jaeger and co-workers. Abstracts 2002 Western Section of American Society of Animal Science.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Brief History of St. Patrick's Day

Irish Recipes

Irish Cookbooks

Shamrock Cow?

St. Patrick's Day Cow Coloring Page

'Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!'

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A labour of love for cheesemakers

'It's not your average dairy farm. For a start, the cows are milked through a one-bale shed – almost certainly the only one of its kind in New Zealand.

The milksolids payout is probably a record – a whopping $35 a kilogram. And the best performer milks upwards of 29kg a day – double the district average. Who are these supercows? Well, there are three of them, answering to the names of Gwendolyn, Violet and Babon.

Cheesemakers Biddy and Colin Fraser-Davies have turned their pet cows into a thriving business. On three hectares (7½ acres) of wind-buffeted and rain-drenched land in the shadow of the Tararua Ranges south of Eketahuna they are obliterating the myth that lifestylers are letting good farmland go to waste.

The milk from Gwendolyn, a big Jersey, and from Violet and Babon, two diminutive Dexters, is being made into cream, butter and cheese with an inventive range of flavourings, including cumin, coriander, allspice, mustard seeds, smoked sea kelp, ruby port, scrumpy cider, dark beer and the inspired piquancy of juniper berries.'

Continue story...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

1st IFOAM International Conference on Animals in Organic Production

AUGUST 23-25 2006 - St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

'Organic livestock production is growing rapidly throughout the world, and sales are anticipated to increase dramatically in the coming years. Although organic livestock production has made significant advances over the last several decades, navigating complex regulatory frameworks and dealing with challenges facing the sector such as securing high levels of health and welfare in organic livestock systems need to be addressed on an international level. In addition, the organic movement needs to take advantage of and share the vast knowledge about organic livestock management practices that has been accumulated, from feed supply to market management.

This conference will focus on important issues concerning organic livestock and animal husbandry. It will concentrate upon health and food safety in organic livestock production systems, marketing trends, innovation in organic livestock production systems and livestock breeding strategies. Key figures from around the world will present the diversity of organic livestock systems, including opportunities and challenges on the horizon.'

Conference information.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Undernourished Aliens Ask: Got Milk?

NEW YORK -- The ad campaign that launched a thousand spoofs is about to return to a television station near you, this time with aliens.

Got Milk? was one of the most successful, and mimicked, campaigns of the 1990’s. Now it’s back, with a new series of TV spots set to air starting today, the California Milk Processor Board announced.

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, the San Francisco firm that developed the original series 12 years ago, created the five 30-second spots, which will run throughout 2006. The dairy industry spends $150 million annually to promote Got Milk?, the CMPB said.

The campaign, titled “Aliens,” plays on the idea that extraterrestrial creatures are combing the countryside looking for a magical white elixir that can cure them of health problems.

The spots end with the famous tagline embedded, crop-circle-like, in a field. The space visitors, who hail from nations like Papau Hairthinny and Cavitopia, are meant to make viewers laugh, while reminding them that milk provides often over looked health benefits like promoting a good night’s sleep and fighting PMS, according to a statement.



Monday, March 13, 2006

Alabama cow tests positive for (mad cow) disease

WASHINGTON - 'A cow in Alabama has tested positive for mad cow disease, the Agriculture Department confirmed Monday.

A routine test last week had indicated the presence of the disease. Results were confirmed by more detailed testing at a government laboratory in Ames, Iowa, said the department's chief veterinarian, John Clifford.

U.S. investigators have found two previous cases of mad cow disease. The first was in December 2003 in a Canadian-born cow in Washington state. The second was last June in a cow that was born and raised in Texas.'

Dexter Playground

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Irish Dexter Cattle Show

Planning is in progress for the 5th Annual Irish Dexter Cattle Show, Saturday, June 3, 2006, as part of the McHenry Highland Festival at the Garrett County (Maryland) Fairgrounds, located on U.S. Route 219, south of I-68 at Deep Creek Lake, near the MD/WV/PA borders.

For more information contact:
Tom Donaldson, PDCA Area 4 Representative
Route 1, Box 258-3
Horse Shoe Run, WV 26716
(304) 735-3102

Saturday, March 11, 2006

PDCA Annual Meeting and Educational Event

The good Dexter breeders in Ohio have been busy planning this year's PDCA Annual Meeting and Educational Event to be held October 12th through the 15th. Plans are for a tour of the facilities at The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute and Ohio Research and Development Center on Thursday, the 12th. Future reservations will be needed so they'll know how many will be participating on the tour.

FFA groups judging cattle, a grass feeding presentation, and a milking demonstration aimed towards utilizing Dexters and geared for smaller scale farms, are just a few of some of the many planned events during the weekend. There will be a video show and I'm guessing a photo contest as well so keep your cameras busy.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Grass-fed beef and milk contribute to healthy eating

'New UCS analysis confirms that grass-fed beef is often leaner than the beef found on most supermarket shelves. In addition, beef and milk from animals raised entirely on pasture have higher levels than conventionally raised beef and dairy cattle of beneficial fats that may prevent heart disease and strengthen the immune system.'

Full report.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Devon farmer loses fight to save calf

by Olivia Cooper - FWi

'A Devon farmer who had refused to allow DEFRA to cull her pedigree Dexter bull calf as a TB reactor has had to back down following a second positive test.

Sheilagh Kremers, of New Park Farm, Ogwell, Newton Abbot, controversially won the right to re-test her calf after claiming that the original test was carried out incorrectly.

Unfortunately, the calf today (Thursday, 9 March) tested positive for bovine TB a second time, and will now be slaughtered.

Mrs Kremers said that seven-month old Mous'l Fern was irreplaceable. "He's bred from a champion bull and he was going to be my stud bull for next year.

"I now don't know what the future brings."

Although the remainder of Mrs Kremers' cattle will soon be due for a routine TB test, she is as yet undecided whether to allow DEFRA vets access to her farm.

"We as farmers must not allow the government to continue to slaughter healthy cattle without an eradication policy for TB – and that includes the wildlife. It can't be allowed to go on."'

Backwoods Home Magazine

PDCA's very own editor, Patrice Lewis, has another article coming out to be published in the May/June 2006 issue of Backwoods Home Magazine. Patrice's subject will be on milking and as she says, "You can bet your bottom dollar that I mention both Dexters and the PDCA website."
So be sure to keep an eye out for this upcoming issue.

Congratulations Patrice!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Big Brother watching your cow

Opinion - Livestock identification system

Frog research to help cattle survive drought

Australia -

'CSIRO scientists hope studies on a western Queensland burrowing frog will help to improve Australia's beef industry.

Dr Nick Hudson says the fact the frogs can spend months or years underground in times of drought and emerge with no muscle wastage has great scope for livestock.

He is looking for a link between the frogs and cattle that do better in drought conditions.

"We're not interested in genetic engineering at all - what we want is to identify the key genes in the frog and use that to see if those same genes exist in natural livestock populations, and if they do then we can think about selecting for those animals specifically and they'll be animals that are really economical with their feed," Dr Hudson said.

After the current season, graziers will be well pleased not to have their cattle croak.'

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Got mine...

...so be looking for your Spring 2006 issue of The Record.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Australia - These would probably also do good here in North America. BBQ Barns Dexter Stud compliments well their offering of quality beef.

"Dexter is an ancient Miniature Irish cattle that were almost an endangered breed until recently. It is extremely flavoursome, lightly marbled, very limited in supply, sells out quickly and features on our chefs' suggestions when available.

The flavours are exceptional, complimented by our SSS seasonings and in-house cooking techniques and, as with our buffalo, it is aged to our own specifications. And the Dexter chilli enhanced sausages ? ...a taste sensation!

Although still in its infancy, one of our Dexter's has already won many awards including Champion Cow with Calf at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Farmer battles to save calf

By Richard Savill - UK

'A farmer who has pledged to go to jail rather than allow her calf to be slaughtered has been told that a veterinary inspector bungled the test to determine whether the young bull had bovine tuberculosis.

Sheilagh Kremers, 63, has fought a two-month campaign to save five-month-old Mous'l Fern after the animal was found to have "reacted" to the test for the disease at her farm in East Ogwell, near Newton Abbot, Devon.

Mous'l Fern, one of a herd of 12 rare Dexter cattle, is to be retested on Monday.

However, the State Veterinary Service (SVS) said it believed the second test, the results of which are expected on Thursday, would also be positive. If that was the case the animal would have to be destroyed.

Mrs Kremers, who was served with a slaughter order in January, said last night: "He is in good health and eating well. I still believe the test itself is flawed. It throws up too many false results."

The SVS said the inspector who conducted the first test had been suspended from carrying out further bovine TB tests until he had been retrained.'

Saturday, March 04, 2006

'Getting a taste for good living'

The Comet - UK.

'VISITORS to a village farm are guaranteed a feast of fun this month.

Greenfield Farm in the picturesque village of Ickwell is now the venue for a cookery school that will give all wannabee chefs a unique insight into the culinary secrets of preparing the finest food.

Teaching visitors will be some of the biggest names in the cookery world with popular TV chef James Martin launching the school on March 16

The idea to turn their farm into a gourmet cookery school was that of businessman and farm owner Nick Burman and his wife Liz.

Mr Burman has had a varied career including his great love of farming and his rare breed livestock including Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, Dexter cattle and Southdown and Wiltshire horn sheep.'


Gasoline From Cattle Dung

By Kozo Mizoguchi

TOKYO — Scientists in energy-poor Japan said Friday they have found a new source of gasoline _ cattle dung.

Sakae Shibusawa, an agriculture engineering professor at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, said his team has successfully extracted .042 ounces of gasoline from every 3.5 ounces of cow dung by applying high pressure and heat.

"The new technology will be a boon for livestock breeders" to reduce the burden of disposing of large amounts of waste, Shibusawa said.

About 551,155 tons of cattle dung are produced each year in Japan, he said.

Gasoline extracted from cow dung is unheard of, said Tomiaki Tamura, an official of the Natural Resources and Energy Agency. Japan relies almost totally on imports for its oil and gasoline needs.

The team, helped by staff from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology near Tokyo, produced gasoline by adding several unspecified metal catalysts to the dung inside a container and applying a 30-atmosphere pressure and heat of up to 300 degrees Celsius (572 Fahrenheit), Shibusawa said. Details of the catalysts could not be disclosed, he added.

The team hopes to improve the technology so that it can be used commercially within five years, Shibusawa said.

In a separate experiment revealing another unusual business potential for cow dung, another group of researchers has successfully extracted an aromatic ingredient of vanilla from cattle dung, said Miki Tsuruta, a Sekisui Chemical Co. spokeswoman. The extracted ingredient, vanillin, can be used as fragrance in shampoo and candles, she said.

Tsuruta said the vanillin was extracted from a dung solution in a pressurized cooker in a project co-organized by a Japanese medical research institute.

Friday, March 03, 2006

2006 Type Classification Tours

Click chart for larger view.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Classification Conference

Wednesday was a cold morning during the Dexter cattle classification review at E. M. Lesko's farm in Wisconsin. The PDCA has made a couple of minor adjustments to the evaluation which may provide some more useful data for our breed and breeders. A review of Dexter classification scoring was presented to Classifiers by Dean Fleharty and Mark Muir. Also attending was PDCA member Jim Johnson who still has an experienced eye for cattle conformation.

Tuesday evening I had the opportunity to meet Patti Adams and Chris Odom from the ADCA. Also, I renewed acquaintance with Tom Gray who had visited my Dexters several years ago. Tom and I are both a lot grayer now than we were then. While communications and difference in governance of associations inhibits any joint classification efforts, both groups agreed that classification is a valuable tool for Dexter breeders and for collecting breed data. We all agreed of the need to educate Dexter breeders about classification and of the benefits to one's Dexter breeding program.

Dexter classification in the U.S. began in 2000 and has made a lot progress since then in becoming a more useful tool for breed evaluations. Data collected in the future should be helpful in assessing structural breed improvements.

PDCA - One Google