Small cows with big benefits
Stories shared by real Dexter owners
Why Gladhour Farm Chose Dexter Cattle
First saw Dexters, to my memory, at the Small Farm Today Trade Show in Columbia, MO. Interesting enough but I had a commercial cattle herd and someone caretaking them on shares, so looking at the animals at the Show wasn't the big draw. Later on, when it looked like taking care of cattle might fall to me, I began considering buying a few Dexters to phase into the operation while "the bigs" phased out.
Eventually, that is not what I did, and I'm glad it wasn't, as the big cattle can provide a dependable check without marketing effort. I moved the big cattle off the farm (they were taken care of on shares by someone else on their farm) and did care-take the Dexters myself. I went into Dexters quite blindly, though, in retrospect. I assumed you could take calves in a group to the sale barn and take home your check. Repeat. Definitely not the way raising Dexters works in this area as main buyers at sale barns here are order buyers who want potloads of cattle to run through the system from backgrounding to fattening to slaughter at a big slaughterhouse where same-size carcasses on the assembly line work best. While selling live Dexter calf crop at a local sale barn is not a good option, Dexters make great direct-market freezer beef and can be profitable, especially if the beef-raiser lives near a city.
Once I became involved with my Dexters as individuals, though, their other attributes eclipsed their beef value. Personalities, intelligence, typically gentle temperament, easy care and easy-calving, versatility, heritage-breed factors...all these stood out as I got to know them. In building my herd, I had not spared the $ or trouble and had bought bulls from the West Coast and brought them to the Midwest, and besides MO, next shopped in KY, DE, OK for specific lines I wanted. Now, years later, I want to downsize, but I have been enjoying my animals themselves and learning about Dexter genetics, cattle handling, natural care and a number of related subjects from 2000 to the present.