Beef Dexter Cattle
"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).
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