Sunday, August 13, 2006

Dexter History Characteristics distribution etc 1921

[Reproduced from the revised edition of "Types and Breeds of Farm Animals", by Charles S. Plumb. Published bu Ginn & Company, Boston, Mass] ~ also herd book 1920...second part as with Kerry, only Blog will not allow such a long post....~

The Dexter breed of cattle is an offshoot from the Kerry and, while classed with the Kerry in the first edition of the book, is properly a seperate and distinct breed. The offspring from a Kerry and Dexter cross is regarded by each Kerry and Dexter herdbook association as a true crossbred and ineligible for registration.
The native home of the Dexter is in the southern part of Ireland and in the same region as that of the Kerry.
The origin of the Dexter is quite obscure. The common assumption has been that this breed is a cross between the Kerry and some other breed, perhaps the Devon. This opinion expressed by Professor James Wilson is that this is a short-legged offshoot of the Kerry, due to crossing with the Devon. It has also been repeatedly claimed that a "Mr. Dexter," who at one time was agent of Lord Hawarden, is responsible for this Irish breed, which for some time was known as the Dexter-Kerry, but which is now is classed by organizations promoting these cattle in Great Britian and America as a distinct and seperate breed from the Kerry.
The introduction of the Dexter to America probably occured long ago, when no discrimination was made between Kerry and Dexter in importations. Perhaps two hundred Dexters were imported to the United States between 1910 and 1915, a large percentage of which were brough over by Elmendorf Farm of Kentucky, Howard Gould of New York and james J. Hill of Minnesota, none of whom are now maintaining herds of these cattle.
The characteristics of the Dexter. In Great Britian the Dexter is regarded as a diminutive dual-purpose breed, although in the United States the beef side is given scant consideration. The essential characteristics are found in the heard, short legs and small size and color. The head is old-fashioned in a degree tending towards plainness and crowned with more or less black-tipped, upright horns. The head of the bull is burly and short and the horns aften extend directly out to each side and then make a wide curve forward and upward, with considerable space between the tips. The neck is moderately short and muscular, the withers show a dual-purpose thickness and the back is unusually strong supported, the depth of body and digestive capacity is comparatively great, teh tail head is often prominent, the hind quarters suggest the dula-purpose type (more especially with the bull), the legs are very short, and the udder on mature cows frequently indicates great capacity for aniimals of such small suze.
The color of the Dexter is very generally a solid black, although pure reds are also recognized and are not uncommon. The Irish regard either color as of equal merit. White marks are permissible on the udder and on the belly up to the navel, though not outside of the flanks. The brush of the tail may also contain more or less white. No white marketings are favored on the bull, although a slight amount on the scrotum or sheath will not disqualify. The horns are unusually white wiht black tips, while the hoods and nose may be either white or dark as the animal is red or black.
The size of the Dexter places it among the smallest of the British breeds. In mature form the standard weights are 900 pounds as a mzximum for the bull and 800 for the cow when in breeding condition. Some very beautiful specimins of cows that scarcely weigh over 500 pounds are seen at British shows. One of the noted bulls of the breed - LaMancha Union Jack - stood only about 28 inches high and probaly weighed less than 500 pounds. In view of the fact that diminutive size the tendancy among breeders has been to emphasize that feature. Where breeding is conducted under conditions of plenty there is a tendency towards increase in size.
The hardy Character of the Dexter is one of its outstanding features. In its native home, like the Kerry, it lieves largely in teh open, under rather rigorous conditions and tubercular and other diseases due to close housing are quite uncommon.
The crossbred Dexter especially with the beef stock, meets with much favor in the British market. The use of Aberdeen-Angus or Shorthorn bulls on Dexter cows has produced some very beautiful small carcasses of beef. The author has seen some of these crosses in Irealnd which, although small, represented high-class beef animals, indicating very superior killing quality. So highly is this kind of cross-breeding regarded in England that special classes for these small carcasses are provided at the Smithfield Club Fat Stock Show.
The Dexter as a milk producer has considerable merit. There are many records for these little cows, of 4000- to 6000 pounds of milk produced within a year and this on just ordinary care. In Ireland, however, official testing of Dexter cows has only just begun. During the years 1916 and 1917 twenty four cows and under test as supervised by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, covering periods of lactation renging from thirty-three to forty-five weeks. The smallest annual yield was 4555 pounds during a period of thirty- six weeks, testing an average of 4.1 per cent fat, while the largest yield was 8124 pounds during a forty-five weeks, testing 3.7 per cent fat. The Castlegould herd of Howard Gould in New York State produced a number of excellent records, one cow - Slane Clara - having a record of 9046 pounds, testing 4.26 per cent fat. Dexter milk averages 4 per cent fat.
Prices paid for Dexter cattle are comparatively small. As a breed is quite limited in number the demand is also limited. These cattle may be bought in Ireland for approximately $150 a head, with a fair selection at this price, although show animals naturally command a higher figure. While Americans have imported several hundred Dexters, as a rule the prices paid have been modest. In a pamphlet on these cattle published by the Kerry and Dexter Cattle Society of Ireland in 1918 it is stated that the prices vary from $125 fo $350, according to age and quality.
The distribution of the Dexter extends over Ireland, with a few select herds in England. The 1918 volume of the English Kerry and Dexter herdbook records thirty-one herds in Engladn. Dexter cattle have been exported to South Africa, Australia, and other British colonies. A number of herds are kept in Canada. In 1919 there were Dexter herds in Vermont, New York, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, Illinois, Wisconson and Minnesota.
The official promotion of Dexter cattle is supervised by several associations. The Farmers' Gazetts of Dublin, Ireland, instituted a herdbook, the first volume of which appeared in 1887. Later the Royal Dublin SOciety took over this work and since 1890 has published the records. The English Kerry and Dexter Cattle Society was founded in 1892 and up to 1919 has issued nineteen herdbooks, which show a total of 639 bulls and 2544 cows registered,. In 1917 there was organized at Killarney, Ireland, the Kerry and Dexter Cattle Society of Ireland "to maintin the purity and promote the breeding of Kerry and Dexter cattle in Ireland." The American Kerry and Dexter Cattel Club organized in July, 1911, serves the purpose of registration and transfer and aims to promote the welfare of the breed. up to 1920 the club has registered fifty-five males and two hundred and forty six females.


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