Raising Dexter cattle | Living the Country Life
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Raising Dexter cattle

Dexter cattle offer a number of benefits

Small but mighty

Listen here: Raising Dexter Cattle

Radio interview source: Chuck Daggett, Dexter cattle owner

Calves are so cute when they're little, but when they grow to be a full-sized 1,200-pound animal, it's a little intimidating. And they eat a lot, too!

Not everyone has the space or resources to raise full-sized cattle, so an increasing number of acreage owners are turning to tiny Dexter cattle. The breed is over a 100 years old and one of the world's smallest true breeds of cattle, not a miniature developed from a larger breed. Dexters grow to be about half the size of their bigger relatives.

Chuck Daggett raises Dexters, and says anyone from city folks new to the country to a seasoned farmer can easily raise them for a number of reasons.

"Some people treat them almost as a pet," Daggett says. "Some people raise small petite beef. The cuts are smaller, it's cheaper to buy, and they're good eating. Some people still like to milk a cow and they're heavy milkers. And so the homesteader milks them in the morning and gives them the calf in the afternoon."

Dexter cattle are generally docile creatures and if they're around people a lot, they're easy to halter-train. Kids enjoy walking them like a dog.

Care and requirements

Dexters don't require a lot of living space. One to two acres will suffice, and since they're lighter, they won't beat up the pasture as bad. That's important, because you don't want their main food source trampled down.

"A lot of people are strictly grass feeding now," Daggett says. "I've done both but I'm strictly grass feeding. I like them on grass better. With the corn and the grains, you have to be a little careful because it's very rich."

They'll appreciate grain as a treat, and during the winter will nosh on good quality grass-alfalfa hay.

Housing them is just as easy. Dexters tolerate climates from Alaska to Florida just fine and do well outdoors all year, as long as they have a shelter or windbreak. Expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,500 for cows and bulls.

Learn more:

Breeds of livestock: Browse Oklahoma State University's extensive database, featuring information and photos on hundreds of breeds of cattle and other livestock.

Make it on a few acres with miniature cattle: Miniature cattle are different than Dexters, but their similar size makes them perfect for acreages.

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