Crossing Dexters

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Unregistered-1427815803, Jan 21, 2004.

  1. Hi everyone

    My short-leg dexter cow is due to calve soon and I am thinking about next year's calf. Its suits my setup better if I can slaughter at around 18 months so I am thinking about using a beef cross to increase growth rate and vigour. My main concern is calving ease so i had thought of Angus or Murray Grey. Has anyone done this, or am I being reckless even thinking about it. If not which would be the better of the two or should I think about another breed?

    Thanks

    HH
     
  2. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Why can't you slaughter your dexters at 18 months? You should be able to use a long leg dexter on your dwarf cow and get a nice calf, why put her to something that big? You can finish Dexters in 18 months.

    Carol K
     

  3. I've noticed all that Dexter people object when someone suggests they would like to cross them. I think it is irrational.

    Basically I have a small cow because I have a small piece of land. I'm not interested in pedigree, just want a good beef calf each year. I can increase growth rate, health and the amount of beef by crossing her to another breed. Thats the best way for me to improve my production. Don't see any problem there. Dexters shouldn't be preseved in aspic, they are a animal bred for production and the best way of maintaining the breed is not making them cute, fashionable and going to shows. Thats a phase and Dexters will be back in trouble again once they go out of fashion. The best way of preserving the breed is to show their advantages as suckler cattle on small plots of marginal land at higher stocking rates, as they were originally intended.

    Can anyone help with the original question please?

    HH
     
  4. syringaweb

    syringaweb Well-Known Member

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    I know a gentleman who is very pleased with the size and demeanor of his dexter/hereford cross
     
  5. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    HH, there is no need to be testy!! You asked a question, I simply asked one back. I asked why you couldn't finish your dexters at 18 months? And also why you would want to risk your short leg with a Angus or Murray Grey?

    Many Dexter owners cross their dexters, but the question was referring to a short leg/dwarf, that is where my concern comes from, and by what you wrote in your first post you are concerned about that also.


    Are you the same person asking the same question on the British Dexter Site?

    Carol K
     
  6. Carol

    The point of asking a question is to get an answer, not for someone to challenge the basis of the question in the first place and infer I must be doing something wrong. Thats bad manners.

    Putting a long leg to my cow and getting a good calf? Well that depends doesn't it. It may be a long leg or a short leg, they finish in different periods of time. Unless you pump a lot of feed into a long leg steer, I would be surprised if you could finish it properly in 18 months. Anyhow I want to finish mine on grass. Also depends on the bull and in any case they won't have hybrid vigour.

    As for risking my dexter, if thats your opinion then please elaborate, thats the information I was after when I asked the question in the first place, not your view on whether I was doing it right or not. Please explain the connection between the length of a cows legs and ease of calving? Is leg length related to pelvis size?

    If you can't answer a question fine, but don't go round giving your opinions as if they are the only way.

    HH
     
  7. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    HH,
    I certainly didn't give my opinion as if it was the only way, but if you took it that way then so be it.

    If you feel challenged by a couple of questions back, then so be it.

    As you seem not to correspond that well with me other than showing anger, I won't bother with you anymore. I hope someone will be able to help you.

    Good luck with your breeding program.

    Carol K
     
  8. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

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    We crossed our dexter with a belted galloway. At seven months old he hung out just under 400 pounds. That's more than enough meat for our family of four for a year. The meat was excellent. The calf was polled. We'd make this cross again.
     
  9. paiger34

    paiger34 Member

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    I breed dexters and I have to say that reading these posts, not all Dexter breeders share the same opinions that have been expressed here. If you want to breed your Dexter to something else….Go Ahead !!!

    I would be very careful on what you choose. Typically you go the other way….Full size cows to a Dexter bull. I can say that in the 6 years that have been breeding Dexters that only calf that I had to pull was from a Dexter cow that I bought that was bred to and Angus. It was a breach and the vet figured that the calf was too big to turn and engage prior to the birth.

    Look at the birth weight of the bull. before you select one. Most AI bulls have that info. Look for a small birth weight on his side. Galloway, small Angus , small Limo and small Herefords do make good crosses.

    Going the other way (breeding Dexter Bull to full size cows) will yield a calf that will be about 3/4size of the Dam. So if the cow is 1200 lbs that calf will be about 900 lbs. I sold a Dexter bull to a guy in WA because he raised locker beef. He was putting him on 20 Angus cows to get some smaller sides of beef due to customer demands.

    Hope this helps …….

    Chris Ricard
    Celestial Farms
    http://users.adelphia.net/~ricards/index.htm
     
  10. Hi Robin and Chris

    Many thanks for the replies, knew there must be some enlightened breeders out there!

    Robin, with your Galloway cross, can I ask how big your dexter was, was she a short leg? Did you have any calving problems? How did you find the growth rate and temperament compared to pure dexter?

    Many thanks

    HH

    Chris, useful info and support, thank you. With the angus cross, once you turned the calf did it come out ok or was it still too big? Do you know if short legs are more likely to have calving problems?

    What I have read suggests that the cow controls the calf size quite well so that there is only a small increase in calf size with a large bull. In a book 'The Life and Times of Dexters' they show tests on crosses with South Devons. With Dexter bull on South Devon cow they got 70lb calf compared to 49lb pure dexter or 105lb pure devon. With devon bull on dexter cow they got 51lb calf, virtually the same as pure dexter. This backs up what you said and it seems that a dexter cow will keep down calf size. From what I have read the Murray and Galloway produce the smaller calves, and they have smaller heads because of the polling.

    Thanks

    HH
     
  11. paiger34

    paiger34 Member

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    You have to realize that the only difference between the shortleg Dexters and long leg is just that, the length of the leg. (The cannon bone to be specific.) Short leg animals have the same size body on the smaller legs. I have heard that short leg animals are more prone to leg and feet problems, as they get older due to the fact that you have the same body mass on the smaller legs.

    My Dexter calves are a lot larger than most. My average birth weight is over 50 lbs with the largest last year being 59 lbs. The wean weight of my dexters is between 400 and 420 at 6 months old. But my bull is 47 inches tall and weighs 1260 lbs.

    As for the Devon, that would be a good mix just watch the birth weight of the bull. If you are breeding with AI use a 2 shot Lud. and it will be more effective.

    Chris
     
  12. Actually there is an important difference between short leg and long leg dexters when it comes to calving problems. It isn't something many dexter breeders, especially the less than totally honest ones, want to talk about.
    Short leg Dexters have an average 25% bulldog calf rate. They are a "dwarf" and the oversize head genetic risk comes with the territory. Combine this trait with a much larger breed of bull and you may be looking at serious nastiness at calving time.
    That is probably the reason the first breeder who responded to your post questioned you about the short leg aspect. Had you not attacked her, you might have learned this earlier.
    Also, it's just a fact of life that breeding a large bull to a small cow is inherently risky. With Jerseys, which can pretty much birth anything it may not be such a big deal. The average Dexter cow doesn't necessarily have that ability.
    But crossbreeding obviously has been, can be, and is being done successfully.
    It is very annoying to have your premises questioned when you post a problem, but your response was way out of line. You were rude and unnecessarily hostile. A forum is all about discussion.
    Most people who are new on this board and post a question have the courtesy to be polite and grateful to the people who post replies, even if it isn't what they want to hear. Frankly it's a bit scary what you in your arrogant inexperience judge to be "enlightened".
    It's your cow and how you breed her is nobody's decision- and responsibility- but yours. If your mind is made up and you just want vindication, how about putting that in your original post next time?
     
  13. paiger34

    paiger34 Member

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    If you are going to issue a warning make sure that you too are conveying the entire truth. First not all short leg Dexter carry the dwarf gene and they can be tested, as I am sure that you are aware, for that gene. The only way to get a bulldog calf is to have to carriers bred together.

    As for the breeders not conveying that information….. It is readily available on the American Dexter Cattle Assoc. web site including the entire white paper that was delivered in Aus in 2002. a little reaserch and you would find it and I am sure that if questioned any “reputable” breeder that would be more than happy to share that info with you.



    Chris Ricard
    Celestial Farms
     
  14. Hi Chris

    Couldn't really put it any better. The previous post was obviously from someone with an axe to grind and with limited understanding of Dexter genetics. For their benefit:

    There is a gene in Dexters which is responsible for leg length. This achondroplasia (dwarf) gene is recessive (lets call it 'd'). This means that as long as there is also one normal gene (lets call it 'D') present as well (there is always a pair, one from the sire, one from the dam) then this is not pathological. When one dwarf and one normal gene are present (i.e. Dd) then the animal is a short leg, the dwarf gene reduces the length of the canon bone. When both genes are normal (i.e. DD) then the animal is a long leg and the canon bone is the normal length. Only when both genes are dwarf (i.e. dd) is a bulldog calf born. This is fatal at birth. The only way of creating a bulldog is to breed a short leg bull (Dd) to a short leg cow (Dd). Then there is a 25% chance of a bulldog calf. However, any other combination will not produce bulldogs. All responsible Dexter breeders know this and will only breed long leg bulls to short leg cows.

    I have never met a Dexter breeder or society that has not warned about this. To suggest they hide it is plain wrong. Also to suggest that using a bigger bull can cause problems because of large bulldogs is rubbish. Unless the other breed has the dwarf gene it is impossible to produce a bulldog by crossing.

    My question was whether or not people have experiences to share of cross breeding Dexters with other breeds, and also if there is a higher rate of dystocia in short leg dexter cows. Straightforward really.

    It is a mistake to confuse inexperience with being unenlightened. I know a great deal about Dexters and their genetics. But I am also wise enough to know that not all information is available in books and that it is then best to ask people to share their practical experiences. Having considered a topic and then asked for input, its a little patronising to be told you shouldn't be asking the question in the first place!

    HH