Dexter Herd Sires
Dexter cattle are an especially interesting breed for their hardiness and history as "survivor cows" and "house cows." Their docile temperament, easy calving, foraging ability and feed efficiency, and small size make them the breed of choice for Gladhour Farm—these, along with fertility, longevity, and good conformation as dual purpose cattle are ongoing breeding goals.
Currently, 4 herd sires are employed:
This is one of the premier bulls of the breed, and my vet calls him "a pussycat" he is so gentle…his sons seem to carry his temperament and accept touch without food bribery or training. Excellent conformation.
Semen straws will be available at some time in the future.
Lenny is a good all-around bull who contributes most everything needed to improve my herd. He stays in fences and behaves himself whether with his cow herd or younger bulls. Has produced calves with improved beef conformation, and can help keep calf height within the guidelines. Particularly admired by a well-known local beef-producer cattleman.
Semen straws available.
Noble, son of one of my mildest-mannered but friendliest cows, was chosen particularly for his temperament to breed my horned chondro-carrier cows (and selected others), aiming for easy-handling steers for oxen or pets. Noble is such a pleasure! A member of the first calf crop we worked with on halter-training before weaning. Also "next herd sire" pick of the aAa analyst who came to analyze my herd, called a well-balanced young bull.
Lester was chosen particularly to breed my traditional herd of cows. I wanted to develop a "mini-Woodmagic" herd on this side of the Atlantic and/or a herd of the most traditional bloodlines in North America. Lester is Legacy-qualified as are his "girls," so I am looking forward to preserving a genetic pool of those early bloodlines, and selling some calves eventually to others with such interests. Previous owner says that Lester is a very mild-mannered tame bull, and I have found him to be so in the brief time he has been here.
(Go to DEXTERS FOR SALE page)
Dexters In General
Irish Dexter Cattle--"the breed for all reasons!"
Dexters appeal to families who have pursued their dream to live on a small farm, who want a more sustainable lifestyle on a small acreage, and who want a few low-impact animals for their own use. Dexters are, historically, dual-purpose animals. Records on milk production are mostly from England, and milking is only in a corner of my knowledge-base, though I did milk one of my Dexters one year until I got so much I couldn't keep up. But I can speak more authoritatively about their tender and excellent meat on a forage-only diet. As a breeder, I have animals that suit such families to the degree that they want a gentle, handle-able animal to use for breeding, especially the bulls.
Dexters also appeal to those with an interest in preserving historic breeds of domestic animals. (See also American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.) For this interest group, I have a few animals who are from very early bloodlines that are perhaps as "pure" to the early ideal of the "survivor cow" without modern "improved" genetics for production as any in the mid-US. They are "Legacy-approved." Part of this group is my "mini-Woodmagic" herd, begun because of my respect and admiration of Beryl Rutherford, which started in my first year of Dexters through reading The Life and Times of Dexters by Ted Neal.
A few people come to Dexters because of their triple-purpose billing and want a pair for oxen. For this interest group of buyers, I have a very small and select group of cows with which I put one of my gentle bulls--who is himself out of one of my gentlest cows. I try to keep the male offspring from this group especially close to the house so that they will have a great deal of human interaction even while I leave the calves with their mothers. I am in process this year of beginning the training of a pair of "shortleg" (chondrodysplasia-carrier; also extremely cute) males for oxen for myself. Keep checking back for my progress!
For Dexter breeders, those of us who are almost obsessive fanciers (!), I also have breeding stock of various colors and types, red, dun, black, polled, horned. In purchasing my original stock I went for the best bull, in particular, that I could find, sending to Washington state to purchase him, so my bloodlines have something to offer many breeders around the country. I currently own Llanfair's Mulligan, a red, polled bull, and my Gladhour Lenny P, his grandson, who won the 2005 PDCA Video Champion Bull title. I am using Gladhour Noble on my "temperament-first" herd, and Frosty Acres Lester and select AI sires on my traditional herd at present.
In the earliest days that the chondrodysplasia DNA test was offered in the US, I tested almost my whole herd. Therefore, I can tell buyers of definite non-carrier animals if that is what they choose for their purchases. I keep chondro-carrying animals as well. In my opinion, it is too early in our knowledge of how the gene operates fully and what goes with it for me to believe that we are wise to drop the carrier animals from the gene pool. However, for practical or aesthetic reasons, some breeders will prefer one or the other type, and I am able to provide them with tested bloodlines.
My Dexters are not uniform. I have a great deal of variety. Beyond color and polledness, I also have taller and shorter animals. For those who want a larger frame (but still a Dexter-size) for breeding bigger beef, I have some. For those who want smaller "pet-type" Dexters, I have some. My own ideal for looks is probably my Lenny P for a bull (at 43 inches [at 3 years], and a non-carrier, he has quite nice beefy hindquarters for a Dexter but carries some dairy characteristics according to the aAa analysis which lists him as a "641"); I like a cow of around 40-42" whose claim to fame comes from her temperament and structural correctness, her easy-calving, longevity, fertility, and well-doing on forage alone more than her looks in such categories as "pretty," "feminine head," "style," or color or even lack of minor flaws. Temperament and intelligence, to me, are the real hallmarks of a Dexter. ...which doesn't necessarily mean they aren't stubborn or don't give their owners stories to tell!
(Go to DEXTERS FOR SALE page)