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Bryn Mawr Farm - Keeping Beneficial Traits – Brush Feeding

One of the reasons I like Dexters so much is because they are still hardy enough to live up to the claims of a hardy heritage breed. Many heritage breeds are beginning to be raised by smallholders who spoil their animals stripping away the genetics for natural resiliency, (I'm not judging anyone, just making a point.)

If we raise heritage cattle I feel we have a bit of responsibility to maintain beneficial traits that the breed was known for.

When I was first searching for Dexters I spoke to a man about his Dexters. He informed me that he made no hay for his Dexters, instead he kept his headcount low and ran them through dry standing pasture all winter long. This man was from Ohio and he said he had been doing this as long as he has owned Dexters.

What we do at Bryn Mawr is a bit different as I'm sure I don't have as much cleared land. We make hay but, late fall- early winter and very early spring we run our Dexters in areas we need cleared because our land needs to be improved. They go out and root around for fresh grass and get naturally de-wormed on spring onions. We feed hay by allotment in the evening (just to make sure they have enough) and then the Dexters go back out and clear again.

We have successfully cleared a lot of land this way that our goats could never have cleared for us. Much of what the cows don't eat they stomp over with their hooves creating more areas for grass to grow in the future.


Anyone else do anything similar? I would enjoy hearing your experience.

Joanne Mendenhall, Mendenhall Farm, Hartford, IA

We run our cattle through the woods as part of our regular rotation in the summer. It improves the soil and stimulates growth. We have seen native plants emerge that haven’t been seen in a very long time.

Bryn Mawr

in the summer we usually keep good grass ahead of them unless maybe there is a dry spell then back to the improvement areas again.

Joanne Mendenhall

We have good pasture as well. But the woods are more like Savannah and there is a lot of good food in there for them.

Lisa Firnges

We do this with our Highlands as well. When the alpacas need new pastures, the cows get put in there first to clear it out for them

Cynthia Schexnayder

Same here. Goats and even our pigs didn't get as much cleared as our Dexters.

Kendell Nelson

I have a little over grown wooded area down by my river that the cows have free range to. They have done an excellent job of clearing out the area for me to come in and now down the brush I don't want. Most of the time I see them in the brush vs the pasture. I'm going to be moving them to some new pasture that I couldn’t mow last year and see how it goes

Bryn Mawr

They make paths and then you can actually enjoy walking the land without a bunch of jagars cutting you up.

Kendell Nelson

Yes I couldn't find my yearling the other day and of course my worst fears come up that they wrestled near the water and he drowned.

Nope, not the case, he was just deep in the brush munching on the weeds that were growing up. Of course after I find him he talks to me. Couldn't do it when I was calling/searching.

Tracy Beteta

I'm learning so much from everyone. We want to keep our herd as 'natural' as possible. So learning that they can forage our woods makes me happy. We still need to clear a bunch of green briar from old fences & fix downed perimeter fencing so we can run a hotwire, then we can do more with rotation.

Bryn Mawr

I want to mention that you want to make sure they have enough to eat and they aren't being truly underfed as that's really the only time a cow would eat something they typically won't eat to stay fed from what I have read. We have never had this happen in the years we have been doing it.

Joy Ann Pickens

Green briar is very high in protein.

Adriane Lippian

When we run low on pasture and it's baked here in Texas we let them go into the creek bottoms. They come up every couple days or so for feed, otherwise we might lose them as it's not all fenced. They keep all the wooded areas trimmed clean as well

Bryn Mawr

Good thing they know home!

Adriane Lippian


Shaun Ann Lord

When we bought our two century old farm once we built basic fencing the Dexters were turned out in overgrown brush growth, loads of wild rose. It didn’t take long for the Dexters to control the brush so we could build safe high tensile fence and cut trails for firewood production, tree selection. Sometimes when we downed trees the Dexters showed up and ate leaves off the branches as we cut up the tree. Hard working Dexters!


Visit Bryn's Website at:

Here at Bryn Mawr the focus is on raising cattle with biblically sustainable standards.

Bryn Mawr breeding selection strategy:

We focus on preserving animals that:

⦁ ​Maintain condition with the least amount of intervention needed.

⦁ Have naturally easy to manage temperaments.

⦁ Have good general conformation necessary to maintain proper health.

⦁ Genetically pass on the ability to give a generous amount of milk, adequate to supply the demand for a calf and the household needs, without over taxing the animal with an excessive output thus leading to poor health.

Bryn Mawr Advice on Halter Breaking and Training:

The best training comes from consistent handling. The necessary element to success is daily handling to build up trust and keep it.

About Bryn Mawr

Here at Bryn Mawr the focus is on raising cattle with biblically sustainable standards.

This concept embraces the perspective that the Bible is a generational book that gives instructions on every aspect of life including farming. That the instructions are not antiquated but are just as valid today as during the days of creation.

Just a few examples are:

(Proverbs 12:10) A wise man preserves the life of the beast..."

(Duet 25:4) "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn."

(Lev 19:19) “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind..."


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