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.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

BSE Cases

From the Cattle Network - Where's The Beef?

Click on image to enlarge.

Reference: Edward A. Morse (pdf file)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Forage, Hay and Pasture Seeding Guide

(Cool Season Grasses Only)

Missouri Department of Conservation Guide

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Five Minutes With Mary Zanoni

Director Of Farm For Life speaks to cattlemen regarding the proposed National Animal Identification System at the National Institute of Animal Agriculture's Animal Identification/Information Exposition.

Cattle Network

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ALBC Annual Conference & Members Meeting

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
29th Annual Conference & Members Meeting

November 16, 17 & 18, 2006
To be held at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds, East 38th Street and Fall Creek Parkway, Indianapolis, Indiana and Conner Prairie, 13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers, Indiana.

ALBC Conference

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ashland County Fairgrounds

Show & Educational Event
October 12th - 15th
Ashland, Ohio

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Autumn here - Spring there

Australia's latest Dexter breed publication has some excellent illustrations that cover some of the basics for standards such as for color. Along with PDCA's The Record, Australia and the U.K. also provide some top-of-the-line Dexter publications. Dexter enthusiasts worldwide share the same interests in this old and unique breed of cattle.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Cow Patty Bingo

For added entertainment we'll be playing Cow Patty Bingo on Friday and Saturday at the upcoming PDCA Annual Meeting, Show, Sale, and Educational event. Should be a fun fundraiser for the association and the winner will go home $100 richer. Hope to see everyone there!

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Record has arrived!

Great job by all the PDCA members that contributed as this Autumn issue contains lots of outstanding Dexter photographs.

Gene Chips for Cows

Applying cutting-edge genomics techniques to cattle might produce more milk and tastier beef. - By Emily Singer

Steak fans may soon reap the benefits of the genomics revolution. A new project will help scientists create bovine breeds genetically selected to produce bountiful supplies of perfectly marbled steaks.

Scientists at several U.S. and Canadian research institutes are collaborating with Illumina, based in San Diego, CA, to develop a bovine gene chip, similar to those used to study the genetics of human disease. The DNA chips, expected to be on the market early next year, will dramatically speed the search for the genetic variants that underlie desired traits, such as the level of marbling in a cut of meat or the efficiency of a dairy cow's milk production.

"This opens a whole new scale of gene identification in cattle," says Jerry Taylor, professor of animal genomics at the University of Missouri-Columbia and one of the researchers on the project. "We'll be able to tackle genetics of all of these traits--reproductive capability, milk production, milk composition, and quality of meat--in ways we never before envisioned."

The sequence of the cow genome was released last year, but scientists have made little progress in identifying genes associated with desirable bovine traits, for the same reasons that have slowed human studies of complex genetic diseases: vast amounts of genetic data are needed to narrow down the gene variants linked to a particular trait.

Now scientists are planning to pool data from revised drafts of the bovine genome and other studies to create this genetic tool--a tiny glass chip coated with thousands of short sequences of DNA that can detect sites in the genome that frequently differ among individuals. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Missouri-Columbia, and University of Alberta are now choosing the specific sequences that will be included on the chip.

The chips will allow scientists to quickly and cheaply gather genetic data on huge numbers of cattle. Scientists can take a DNA sample from an animal and use the chip to simultaneously detect thousands of genetic variations, giving a detailed profile of that animal's genome. Thousands of individual profiles are then analyzed in conjunction with data on each animal's phenotype (its observable, physical characteristics) to determine the variations associated with a particular characteristic, such as growth rate.

Breeders of dairy cows are particularly excited about the gene chips. Currently, they can't tell if a bull produces high-quality progeny--meaning cows that make lots of milk--until the bull's female calves grow up. If scientists can find a genetic pattern that quickly and cheaply identifies desirable bulls, the breeding process would be much more efficient. "We're looking at changing the costs from tens of thousands to under one thousand dollars," says Curt Van Tassell, a geneticist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, MD, and a collaborator on the chip project. Van Tassell and the team plan to start such an analysis as soon as they finish designing the chip. "We hope to have genetic prediction machinery within a year of having collected data, with a higher-resolution model in two years," he says.

The chip could also shed light on how breeding has shaped the bovine genome. Missouri-Columbia's Taylor plans to characterize the genetic variation in different breeds of cattle, creating a bovine map that's much like the human HapMap released last year, which mapped the genetic diversity of people from all over the world (see "A New Map for Health"). The researchers also plan to look at related species, such as bison, water buffalo, and the now-extinct auroch, an ancestor of modern cattle.

Early results of the bovine genetic testing suggest that breeding for particular qualities, such as high milk production, hasn't selected for two or three specific variants associated with that trait. Rather, years of breeding have produced selection pressure across the genome in a complex pattern. "Small differences in many genes leads to big differences in underlying phenotype," says Taylor. "It's much more subtle than you might think."

-- Technology Review

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cow Power!

Central Vermont Public Service customers who want to support renewable energy and Vermont dairy farms have a new energy choice – CVPS Cow Power™. The Vermont Public Service Board has approved CVPS Cow Power™, which is intended to help promote development and reliance on renewable energy in Vermont by creating a market for energy generated by burning methane from cow manure.

By enrolling in CVPS Cow Power™, customers will help support Vermont dairy farms that develop generators that run on methane from cow manure, renewable generation in the region, or incentives to farmers to get into the business.

Customers who sign up will receive a free "Energy Happens" bumper sticker to show their support for farming, the environment and renewable energy!

Cow Power website

Friday, September 15, 2006

Selecting for size only...

“Genetic diversity is essential to the health of any species, and variation in characteristics allows the species to adapt to changes in the environment. Human selection has greatly emphasized subspecies diversity, and most domestic species contain a beautiful and useful variety of genetically distinct breeds. There are, however, biological parameters. Animals that are too small, for example, do not reproduce and persist in nature.

Of particular interest in livestock production has been the characteristic of size. The livestock industry has made great progress in increasing the size of production breeds of all species, because bigger is considered better. We know that size limits have been reached, however, when birthing problems, skeletal deformities, and physiological diseases result. Selection for extremely small size can lead to even more pitfalls. This is because many different abnormalities can result in retarded growth. If size is the only selection factor, then undesirable qualities will also be included in future generations.

Twenty years in veterinary practice demonstrated to me an amazing range of anatomical and functional disabilities associated with selection for tiny dogs. Serving as a companion animal is not taxing, but genetic infirmities can still lead to lives of suffering for the animals and heartache for their unsuspecting owners.

Selection of livestock for the single trait of small size makes even less sense, since these animals have real work to do.” ---Excerpt from “Dexters Threatened by Genetic Diversion Gimmick” by Don Bixby, July-August, 1996, ALBC NEWS.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Boring cows...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Conservation Grazing

Picture taken in May 2006 at the Rutland Water Nature Reserve.
Conservation Grazing

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Breeding Philosophy

Many of the points made in this article by a Milking Devon breeder could be just as applicable to Dexter breeding.

Our Breeding Philosophy

Monday, September 11, 2006

Maasai cattle forge 9/11 bond with US

Maasai oxen in Tanzania. They are as well trained as any Drew has seen in America. The key: understand your cattle and work them. Photograph by Drew Conroy.

One of the highlights of the 2001 Dexter meeting in New York state, hosted by PDCA's Kathy Smith, was Drew Conroy recounting his experiences of living with the Maasai. Cattle are highly valued among the Maasai, a community of herders who live in Kenya and Tanzania, and the gift of a cow is regarded as among the most precious one can receive from a Maasai - ranking alongside a child or grazing land.
Kenyan Maasai cattle forge 9/11 bond with US

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Seeing double...

"It is absolutely impossible to attain marked success in breeding domestic animals without breeding them to a certain standard. The man who makes the attempt to do so is like the mariner who sails the seas without a compass. He, himself, cannot tell whither he is drifting. He is playing at what may be termed a game of chance."
--Thomas Shaw, published 1913.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Matched pair...

This son and grandson might make a good Dexter oxen team.

Friday, September 08, 2006

DEXTERS: Horned, Polled or Scurred

Somewhat dated as I believe now the CDCA also accepts polled Dexters, but this Australian Dexter breeder has some good general information regarding horned, polled, and scurred, on their website.

DEXTERS: Horned, Polled or Scurred

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Green grass to cut cow flatulence

'An Irish scientist has proposed replanting pastures with modified grass in an attempt to cut down on cattle flatulence, a major source of the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions.

The recommendation is made in a study commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which this month will outline options for dealing with greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector. Apart from replanting pastures with special grass that would reduce the amount of methane produced by cows, another proposal is to breed cattle that can be slaughtered at a younger age, thereby reducing the amount of time they are alive and releasing gas.'

The Sunday Times - Ireland

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Another day... another Dexter...

Fergie's boy

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

'Hairy buttercup, happy cow'

'Pasture weeds such as Californian thistle and hairy buttercup have a high mineral content of nutritional benefit to grazing animals, says Dr Kerry Harrington.

Dr Harrington, a weed expert in the University’s Institute of Natural Resources, conducted a study of the mineral content of weed species chicory, narrow-leaved plantain, dandelion, broad-leaved dock, hairy buttercup and Californian thistle. Some of which are grazed alongside perennial ryegrass and white clover pasture species on the University’s organic dairy farm.

Magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, cobalt and selenium were found in significantly higher levels in the weeds. The crude protein levels of these species, as well as in Yorkshire fog, were also higher than those in ryegrass.

“Advisers and farmers within the organic industry are often keen to increase the diversity of plant species within pastures, with mixtures called herbal leys that have a higher mineral content,” Dr Harrington says.

Dr Harrington says cows on the farm graze hairy buttercup, broad-leaved dock, dandelion and Yorkshire fog, and that Californian thistle will also be eaten if it is mown prior to grazing. For weeds often avoided by cows, Mr Harrington recommends block grazing over winter to ensure they are eaten.

He says organic farmers introduce alternative pasture species such as chicory and narrow-leaved plantain because of their high mineral content, but typically prefer to eliminate docks and dandelion. This difference prompted his closer look at the unwanted species.

He says the high mineral content of these weed species may be useful in keeping animals healthy on organic farms where only a limited range of health remedies are available should cows get sick.' --Massey News

Monday, September 04, 2006


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sasha, dun heifer calf

One can see from this photo of a dun heifer calf maybe why the early Dexter registries listed the color dun as red. I believe that it was in the 1970's the distinction of being two colors, dun and red, was made in the UK. There were dun Dexters in the early and original American Dexter herds and in the 1980's dun was given a separate color distinction in the U.S. registry. Registrations were listed as red/dun since many breeders weren't sure of which. While originally black was the popular Dexter color, later importations increased the number of dun and red Dexters in North America.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Cows Named Sass and Rosi

By Richard Edwards

A LEEDS farm is now home to two laughing cows – thanks to a Yorkshire Evening Post reader and the paper's We Love Summer campaign. The Dexter cattle, which live at Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, Leeds, have full, posh pedigree names. They were bought using £500 donations from the YEP and the Radisson SAS Hotel Leeds. Early last month, staff at the farm challenged YEP readers to come up with everyday names for the bovine brace.

Ideas poured in, with some readers coming up with classic cow titles like Daisy or Ermintrude. One reader suggested the animals should be given Indian names, as the cow is a sacred creature in India. But the winning idea, sent in by Annette Burnham, was to name the cows Sass and Rosi. Using the 'and,' the names are an anagram of Radisson SAS.

Farm director Sue Reddington said: "We were delighted with the response. There were some really good ideas and it was nice to see so many people taking an interest. Animals always catch peoples' attention and we are hoping to see lots of people coming to see Sass and Rosi, along with all the other animals living here." She added: "They are quite sophisticated cows so they are pleased to get their names. They have been mooing all the way to the hay trough."

Friday, September 01, 2006

September's first

PDCA - One Google