Any Dexter Owners IN SC, GA, Or NC?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by hermitfarmer, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. hermitfarmer

    hermitfarmer Active Member

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    I am looking into the dexter breed to help in a future market here in my area. I have about three good pastures. I want to know if they are as good at foraging the area like a goat is? I know I will have to provide feed for them I havae raised cows before( Now to keep the wife from teaching them how roll a ball around is another thing) I have a good part of my farm that has a lot of scrub or bush trees and I had once read that these cows were good in a foraging enviroment. If anyone has an Idea holler. I want to start marketing some good farm raised beef. Thanks a lot the goat market here is outstanding from time to time. You just have to establish yourself. Adios..........
     
  2. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Western NY

  3. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    We live in middle TN and have Dexters. They are as good at foraging as goats. We had a big goat herd for a few years, and Dexters are a LOT less trouble. You have to do so much to keep goats, like frequent worming (the cost of which comes out of your bottom line) and hoof trimming. Goats have more birthing problems. Fencing is much more expensive and difficult to maintain with goats. They'll get out through the tinest hole just because they can. Predators can be a problem with goats. Yes, you can use a LGD, which we had to do, but then you have the training, expense and upkeep that goes with that too.
    We don't give our Dexters supplemental feed. They stay absolutely rolling fat on pasture. You'll have marketing leverage if you can sell them as grass finished beef. Even here in this small town people are learning about the health benefits of grass fed beef. We have enough customers to buy this years' crop of young bulls without much effort. The smaller size definately helps with marketing too.
    Dexters are much more difficult to sell through traditional channels than goats. Around here you can just pull up at the sale barn with goats and know you're going to get a good price most times of the year. You'd be practically giving Dexters away if you tried to sell them through the barn. People just don't know what they are. They tend to think they are runty Angus, but the horns throw them.
    Good luck with whatever you decide and we're happy to share whatever we've learned if you need help.
     
  4. translplant

    translplant Well-Known Member

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    Vanleer, Tennessee
    Hi there,
    Paula, I'm a new Dexter owner also in Middle Tennessee. I would love to hear about some of your experiences with them! How many do you have? We have 5. Are you breeding? milking? eating? them?
     
  5. georgiarebel

    georgiarebel Well-Known Member

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    GA
    We just got our first two here in Georgia. They've been munching on grass since the minute we took them off the trailer. I put a bale of hay out with them, but they haven't really touched it. What really surprised me was that they passed over the green grass I thought they'd jump on first and ate stuff that didn't look as good.

    GR
     
  6. translplant

    translplant Well-Known Member

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    Vanleer, Tennessee
    Ours had been on hay, range cubes and dairy feed (16% protein) only so the vet cautioned us to give them pasture slowly. We held them in the barn for 48 hours while they settled in, then let them out for 3 hours the first day, about 5 the next, and they'll be out for good by this weekend. The vet explained that cattle hold beneficial bacteria in their rumen's from whatever they've been used to (feed, hay, pasture) and anything new can "burn it up" if it's a sudden switch. Made sense to me just comparing my own stomach and how it reacts when I travel!

    They went right for the large patches of fescue first, the rest is misc grass, flowers and weeds. The vet marched around the pasture and gave it the okay so I'm hoping nothing gives them the bloat.
     
  7. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    I just asked dh to count them up, he says we have 15. Some of those are bulls/steers that will be sold when they get big enough for slaughter. We have a horned long legged bull but are considering looking for a polled one. Sort of have mixed feelings on that though. I think the horned cows are prettier. Also, we never lose a calf to coyotes with horned cows in the herd. Polled cows might be easier to sell though.

    We haven't milked one - we also have Jerseys, we usually have one of them milking. My sister is training one of our 6 yr old mostly unhandled Dexters to milk though. She's had her two weeks and can already squat down beside her while she's eating (untied) and milk her. Not getting but a few squirts of milk, they need to install a gate on their barn so they can lock the cows' 3 month old calf up at night. She's big enough that she pretty much keeps the cow drained.

    Wanted to mention for you to be especially careful about bloat in the spring. The grass is lush and full of water then. Right now it's pretty low in moisture because of the time of year and how dry we've been in this area. In the spring on our smaller farm (cows are in a lot with hay all winter) I don't let the cows on grass but for about 30 min the first time and gradually increase the time after that. DH thinks I'm probably too careful, but we've had a couple of close calls in the past and it's easier to prevent a problem than fix it. On our big farm the cows are on pasture year-round so can nibble at the grass as it starts to grow in the spring.

    We've eaten one Dexter. Also eaten one Jersey/Dexter steer. They were great. We won't butcher one for ourselves this year, we have a humongous holstein steer who needs to go.
     
  8. translplant

    translplant Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Vanleer, Tennessee
    I'm glad for that info about bloating in the spring. Tell me about your close calls and what you did. As we're in the process of renovating our pastures (disk, seed, lime, fertilize, fence-off until spring) I'm imagining very lush grass in the spring - that is if it ever rains around here again! (10 day forcast...nothing!) Those same pastures will be cut for hay before we let them out.

    I'm looking to get all 3 of my ladies pregnant before the end of the year. I am working on a fall calving schedule for the time being. I have considered AI and that looks like a good way to go but there is something about seeing that bull live and in the flesh that I like a little better. Do you have any experience with AI? Does your bull make house calls or take in visitors? Maybe you could p.m. me about this??

    I really like the horns myself. And I've been advised that putting horned and polled together will make for an un-balanced "pecking order" if you know what I mean. So, I'm looking for a horned, black, long legged bull to breed to for this year.
     
  9. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    Had a close call this spring. DH decided he would let the cows out without telling me. They were out 3 hours on LUSH grass before I found out. Our older Jersey looked on the verge of bloating. Her rumen was so full it was starting to pooch a little. I was furious. DH (!) walked her for 3 hours till she started pooping and her rumen went down to just a regular full looking level. He went out several times that evening to check her. One time he walked her again for about an hour. I had put off buying bloat medicine because I'm always so careful, and it was Sunday and nothing was open. I was looking around for a hose to modify as a stomach tube and thank goodness we had some mineral oil here if we had needed it. DH thought I was silly before this happened - "I've raised cows all my life and never had a problem with bloat." Yeah, but all his and his family's cows had access to pasture all winter so were able to start out slow on the spring grass. He had NO experience with dry-lotting cows then getting them back on grass in the spring. He was somewhat humbled by the experience and now listens to me a little better about the animals, thank goodness.

    When I was a kid we had horses and cows and had both bloat at various times. Back then we would run a stomach tube (old hose) in and pour in a quart of mineral oil. And walk, walk, walk. Now there are bloat medicines you can buy. You can also buy real stomach tubes. The hoses were kinda rough on them.

    We have used AI on our Jerseys in the past. There's only one AI tech in this area, she's out of Pulaski. She's good. We haven't used her in a couple years, would have to find out if she's still doing it. You'd have to talk to her to work out ordering Dexter semen I guess. If I remember right her name is Patricia (Trish) McDougal.

    Our bull is Willie of LBI. You can look up his pedigree on the ADCA website. He's black, long-legged, horned and has very good bloodlines. He's gentle in that he's never shown any indication of aggression. He has not been handled, don't think it's such a great idea to be that friendly with a bull. He would probably be fine, lots of people halter-train their Dexter bulls, our attitute is really a carry-over from raising regular (beef and Jersey) cows. Check out his pedigree and PM if you're interested. I'm sure we could work something out.

    BTW, we have horned and polled cows together and have no probs. They all know where they stand in the herd. The horned cows will threaten with their horns but rarely use them. The only time I've seen horns used is when the idiot holstein steer refused to stop mounting a cow the bull was trying to breed. The bull poked him a few times and he gave up. He wasn't injured, but the bull could have absolutely torn him up if he had wanted. They will only use the force necessary.