Cattle


Dexter Cattle, Ireland’s native beef breed, descended from the mountain cattle of Southern Ireland, as recorded 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 in 1892, the ‘British Kerry and Kerry/Dexter Cattle Society’ was established. Subsequently, over 200 Dexter Cattle were exported to America between 1905 and 1915. Today, Ireland’s Dexter Cattle are grazing all over the world.

In 2013, around 2,000 Dexter Cattle remain in Ireland, displaced by the larger International Breeds. These larger breeds, along with their feeds and medications, scientifically developed for rapid growth and greater yields, dominate in 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.


Enquiries
vic@camusfarm.ie
023 886 9268
+353 238 869 268