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.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cow Phobia

'A Welsh farmer is launching an "aversion therapy" course to help British walking tourists who are afraid of cows.

Geraint George, from St Elvis, near Solva in Pembrokeshire, is to host a cow-friendly course on his farm that he hopes could spread to other farms across Wales.

He claims there are hundreds of animal phobias, including a fear of snakes, pigeons and flying insects but "cow phobia" is preventing many people from visiting or even living in the countryside.

A professional phobia expert and a psychologist from the Shropshire-based No Panic Phobia Association will also be on hand in his farmyard when the courses get under way.'


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

August 2002

7th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, August 19-23, 2002, Montpellier, France

IDENTIFICATION OF THE GENE CAUSING CHONDRODYSPLASIA IN DEXTER CATTLE. J. A. L. Cavanagh, I. Tammen, P. A. Windsor, F. W. Nicholas and H. W. Raadsma. Reprogen, The University of Sydney, PMB 3 Camden 2570, Australia.

Dexter cattle are a small breed of cattle originating in Ireland in which there have been reports of chondrodysplastic foetuses, an incompletely dominant form of lethal dwarfism. The aim of this study was to find the gene responsible for chondrodysplasia, and develop a DNA-test. A combined homozygosity mapping and candidate gene approach was used. A candidate gene located in a region of interest was screened and a disease causing mutation was identified. The mutation is a 4 bp insertion causing a frame shift, which in turn leads to a premature termination codon. A DNA–test was developed to identify animals heterozygous for the mutation. The DNA-test will be available to the Dexter breeders this year. The test will be an invaluable tool for Dexter breeders, potentially eliminating the occurrence of chondrodysplastic calves.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Never Hug A Swiss Cow

Geneva, Switzerland - After increased "reports of unpleasant meetings between hikers and cattle" along Switzerland's Alpine trails, the Swiss Hiking Federation has released some rules. The organization's Web site, posted some recommendations.

"Leave the animals in peace and do not touch them. Never caress a calf."

"Do not scare the animals or look them directly in the eye. Do not wave sticks. Give a precise blow to the muzzle of the cow in the event of absolute need".

Source: cnn.com

Monday, August 28, 2006

Grassfed Beef Genetics

What to Look for:

Your future success with grassfed beef production hinges on 3 things:
Access to quality pasture
Management abilities

There are plenty of good resources on the web for the first two items, so on this Grass-fed beef genetics webpage we'll cover in detail the nuts and bolts (or is that the D's,N's and A's ?) of genetic selection.

Size, Bloodlines, Environment, How are they raised?

1. Size. Size does matter, and less is more. You want your breeding stock to be below a 4.5 frame score, ideally somewhere between 3-4.5.

So, what is a frame score? Frame scores are the measurement of the animal's hip height charted against a given age. Thus you can measure an animal's hip height at 11 months of age (charts are gender-specific) and if he measures a 4, he will still measure a 4 at 18 months or 24 months of age.
For a printable frame score chart as well as detailed information about frame scores, visit: http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/ansci/beef/as1091w.htm

Now, why do we care about frame scores and hip heights? Because these are practical, objective tools at our disposal to better predict the ability of an animal to function in a grass-fed beef program. They do this by helping us to assess the likely mature weight of the young cow or bull, and the probable weight at maturity of their offspring. These are vital parameters for the grassfed beef producer. As grassfed beef producers, we need early maturing cattle, typically the lower frame score cattle.

You do not want animals that are going to mature at 1400 pounds! The time required to finish this on forage alone will put him well beyond 3 years of age. Not only will meat quality be affected, but your bottom line will be also. In terms of turnover, how long can you afford to have cattle around using up pasture resources before they convert into cash flow for your operation?

There is also an economic incentive for keeping those 'short, squatty' cows around: they tend to be easy keeping. Which model gets better gas mileage, a Hummer or a BMW? Its no different with cows: bigger cows have much higher energy requirements, and their ability to be productive, i.e. breed, birth, milk and re-breed in a low input system, is greatly impaired.

2. Bloodlines:
No, we're not interested in fancy pedigrees, but we are keen on knowing the body type of our prospective breeding stock's ancestors. Why? It has to do with prepotency. Prepotency is the ability of a parent to consistently pass along its characteristics to its offspring. A single frame score 4 animal that suddenly materializes out of a herd of frame 5-6 cattle is very unlikely to be prepotent for this frame score and maturity type. Using such an animal, particularly if it is a bull, you run a high risk of many 'throwback' calves, calves that are representative of the true gene pool of the herd that produced the bull in the first place.

Continued, (part2)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cows moo with a regional accent

'DAIRY farmers in Somerset claim their cows moo with a regional accent.

The cattle are said to have copied their owners' distinctive West Country twang by calling “moo-arr" to each other.

John Wells, Professor of Phonetics at the University of London, said it was feasible.

He said: “This phenomena is well attested in birds. You find distinct chirping accents in the same species around the country.

“This could also be true of cows. In small populations such as herds you would encounter identifiable dialectical variations which are most affected by the immediate peer group.”'

Judge for yourself

Thursday, August 24, 2006

On the road...

...back in a few days.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Beef Dexter Cattle

Production Characteristics

"The value of production characteristics as indicators of different genetic types within the Dexter breed is limited by lack of data to demonstrate whether the differences are due to the effect of complex interactions within the genome, or simply are expressing an influence of the 'dwarf' gene" (Alderson, page 144). Nevertheless, Alderson believed the differences to be significant. Wilke (1996) compared a short-legged with a long-legged bull and found they showed marked variation in growth and feed conversion efficiency. Wilke suggested that the short-legged bull had no or very little muscle growth during most of the test, and was laying down fat. The animals showed some differences in conformation, especially for length of leg and withers height (see Table 4 below).

Table 4: Performance results for two Dexter bulls (from Wilke 1996)

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust operates a Traditional Breeds Meat Marketing scheme which includes an assessment of meat quality. These assessments show that, "while the meat quality from medium and long-legged Dexter cattle achieves a good standard, 'dwarf' type animals produce worse results. If they are slaughtered at a young age they show a poor meat/bone ratio; if they are slaughtered later they show a poor meat/fat ratio" (Alderson, page 145). While these differences are genetic in origin, it is not possible to determine whether lack of muscle in short-legged Dexters reflects a mixed breed ancestry, or whether it is directly associated with the "achondroplastic condition".

Excerpt from "Dexter Cattle: Origin and Relationships" by Lawrence Alderson

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium

National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (2006)

Monday, August 21, 2006


'Freemartinism is recognized as one of the most severe forms of sexual abnormality in cattle. This causes infertility in the female calf born twin to a male. When a heifer (female calf) twin shares the uterus with a bull (male calf) fetus, they also share the placental membranes connecting the fetuses with the dam (mother).

A joining of the placental membranes occurs at about the fortieth day of pregnancy, and fluids of the two fetuses are mixed. This causes exchange of blood and antigens carrying characteristics that are unique to each heifers and bulls. When these antigens mix, they affect each other in a way that causes each to develop with some characteristics of the other sex.

Although the male (bull) twin is only affected by reduced fertility, in over ninety percent of the cases, the female (heifer) twin is completely infertile. Because of a transfer of hormones and/or cells, the heifer's reproductive tract is severely underdeveloped, it sometimes contains some elements of a bull's reproductive tract. A freemartin is genetically female, but has many characteristics of a male. The ovaries of the freemartin do not develop correctly, and remain very small. The ovaries of a freemartin do not produce the hormones necessary to induce the behavioral signs of heat.

Freemartinism cannot be prevented, but can be diagnosed in a number of ways. The cattleman can predict the reproductive value of this heifer calf at birth. In some cases, there are no symptoms of freemartinism because the male twin may have been aborted at an earlier stage of gestation.

The estimated percentage of natural beef cattle births that produce twins vary. One estimate puts the percentage at about .5% or 1 in every 200 births. Approximately one-half of the sets of twins should contain both a bull and a heifer calf.'

Sunday, August 20, 2006

How old to breed a Dexter heifer?

Someone sent an email this week asking about how early they should breed their heifer and I also received a phone from a breeder wanting to know when she could let her bull out with her heifers. While bulls have been known to jump the fence and breed a Dexter heifer as young as five months old, you want to try to avoid this. This long time Dexter breeder's advice is what I've followed:

"A heifer can be bred at 9 mos. We had a heifer that had her first calf at 18 months and 9 or 10 days. However it might be better to have the calf arrive when the dam is 24 months old. I would say it's your choice when to breed."

So while ideally you may want your heifer to calf at 24 months of age, generally if she calves at 18 months or older you should be okay.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Royal Cornwall Show

June 2006 Dexter Cattle

Friday, August 18, 2006

Children’s Barnyard in Oklahoma

Bartlesville Examiner

Come visit the Children’s Barnyard during the Washington County Fair Aug. 24-26 at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Dewey.

The barnyard is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and until 7 p.m. on Saturday. The Children’s Barnyard is a service and leadership project of the members of the Washington County 4-H program.

A variety of animals will be housed in the Barnyard. They have rare Dexter cattle, miniature horses, hatching baby chicks, goats with babies, and many others in the critter corner.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Brisbane's big day out

Courier Mail - Australia

'At the Ekka about 100,000 people streamed into the showgrounds, while crowds at the Eagle Farm races were so big organisers had to close the gates.


Highlight of the day was the Grand Parade of prize-winning cattle, horses, goats and even llamas in the main arena.

Hundreds of animals kicked up dust clouds as they entered the ring for an impressive, braying display of the best of Queensland farming.

Leading his champion Dexter bull, Bircham Sir Winston, was Samford farmer Ian Manly.

The 60-year-old's eight cattle won a staggering 16 ribbons at this year's show.'

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Most complete cow genome is assembled

WASHINGTON,(UPI) -- A U.S.-supported research team says it has produced the most complete sequence of the cow genome ever assembled.

The achievement is expected to assist scientists in improving the health and disease management of cattle and enhance the nutritional value of beef and dairy products.

Developed by an international consortium of research organizations, the new bovine sequence contains 2.9 billion DNA base pairs and incorporates one-third more data than earlier versions.

Ross Tellam, of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization, said the new map marks the end of the sequencing phase of the project, with the focus now turning to analyzing the available data.

"This is very valuable information," Tellam said. "We could potentially achieve as much improvement in cattle breeding and production in 50 years as we have over the last 8,000 years of traditional farming."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Heritage Cattle Blog

Here's a relatively new blog I discovered by a cheesemaker in New York that shares my historical interest in Dexter and Kerry cattle.

Heritage Cattle

Monday, August 14, 2006

You're On Notice!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Internet Hay Exchange

Internet Hay Exchange

A good internet resource for those in areas that might be facing hay shortages due to the drought and are having difficulty locating hay.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Tiny Tim's mouth wash

by rhiangabriel

Friday, August 11, 2006

British cattle genetic analysis

A technical but interesting British cattle genetic analysis which indicated measurable differences between breeds according to structure analysis and the high breed integrity values. Breed integrity values are shown in Table 5. The breed with the highest breed integrity was Jersey (0.924) and that with the lowest was Ayrshire (0.726).

Breed relationships and definition in British cattle: a genetic analysis.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Notched Ears & Testicular Deformities

Gabriella Nanci has composed and added a couple of new articles that may be of interest to breeders on her website:

Notched Ears in Dexter Cattle

Testicular Deformities

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Full Sturgeon Moon

"Some Native American tribes knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon, while others called it the Full Green Corn Moon or the Full Grain Moon." Old Farmer's Almanac.

Photograph by "The Eclectic Travelers".

Monday, August 07, 2006

Good Cows & Bad Cows

A couple of interesting stories where cows grazing had two very different conservation results.

Good cows - How the cows came home and saved the adonis blue

Not so good - Did a cow eat the rare Ulster orchid found only 14 times in 110 years?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Dexter Cattle - Ohio October

Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America, Inc.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Autumn Issue of 'The Record'

Time once again to start putting together the Fall issue of The Record. PDCA Editor, Patrice Lewis, is always looking for good photos for the "centerfold" color spread. So now is the time to send Patrice any of your Autumn Dexter photos, articles, comments, or useful cattle and ranch tips that you would like to share in this upcoming issue. I'm sure that not only membership and subscribers, but also those that inquire to the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America about Dexter cattle and receive a complimentary issue of The Record, appreciate the many great contributions from our Dexter family. Send to:

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


Friday, August 04, 2006

Grass Fed Beef Recipes

California State at Chico has developed some grass-fed beef marinades and a pictorial guide of Grass Fed Beef Recipes.

Click image to enlarge.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Good resource providing internet links useful for plant 'weed' indentification.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

If only they had a name...

'The Dexter cattle, which live at Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, Leeds, have full pedigree names. They were bought thanks to donations from the Yorkshire Evening Post and Radisson SAS Hotel Leeds.

But farm staff are keen for the cows to answer to something udder than their longwinded titles, and want them to have everyday names.

So they have challenged Yorkshire Evening Post readers to come up with something that slips more easily off the tongue.'

Let the moos take you..name our cows!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dog Days of Summer...

...with another over 100 degree hot day.

Think Snow!

PDCA - One Google