Dexter Cattle, Ireland’s native beef breed, descended from the mountain cattle of Southern Ireland. Today, around 2,000 Dexter Cattle remain in Ireland, displaced by the larger International Breeds. These larger genetically-developed breeds, along with their high-processed feeds and medications, dominate the global beef industry. Dexter Cattle however, grass-fed and slow-maturing, remain the natural choice for small-holders seeking to produce traditional tasting beef from sustainable organic farming practices.
For further information on Dexter Cattle see www.dextercattle.co.uk.
Our cattle remain in their family herd through life with plenty of room to roam. A low stock density means our cattle do not need subjecting to the stresses of dehorning or castration. They reproduce as nature intended receiving no hormone injections or artificial insemination. Calves are born naturally in the field and are on their feet and suckling within minutes.
Dexter Cattle, first documented in the 1830’s by David Low, Professor of Agriculture at Edinburgh University. Professor Low studied the natural history of farmed animals of Britain and Ireland, culminating in 1842 with the landmark publication “On the Domesticated Animals of the British Islands”. This document records 20 distinct breeds of cattle, many of which are no longer found in today’s intensive farming industry. One native Irish breed he refers to is the Dexter, named after a Mr Dexter from Somerset who managed a 2,400 acre estate in County Tipperary.
Professor Low distinguishes the Dexter by its ‘roundness and depth of carcass’ and its “short legs, and a small space from the knee and hock to the hoofs”, probably originating the saying “Tipperary beef down to the heels”. He records ‘This gentleman (Mr Dexter) is said to have produced his curious breed by selection of the best of the mountain cattle of the district. … When any individual of a Kerry drove appears remarkably round and short-legged, it is common for the country people to call it a Dexter.’
In 1887 the Irish Farmers’ Gazette published the first “Register of Pure Kerry Cattle and Dexters” listing 46 Kerry Bulls, 100 Kerry Cows and 10 Dexter Cows. In 1882, the first 10 Dexter cattle were exported to England and by 1915 over 200 Dexter Cattle had been exported to America. Today, Ireland’s Dexter Cattle are grazing all over the world.