Dexters vs. Highland Cattle

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Old John, May 27, 2004.

  1. Old John

    Old John Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi All,
    I'm new here.
    I've retired & moved back to the Country. After growing up in the Country & spending 37 years in the city, I'm ba-a-a-ack! YA-a-a-y.........
    Last year we bought a little place in SW Indiana. Nice house, 13 acres,
    with a 1 acre pond. About half of it, 6 or 7 acres, is in grass, that I've
    over-sown with Orchard Grass, Timothy, Perrenial Rye Grass, Blue Grass,
    Red Clover, & Birdsfoot Trefoil. Seems like a good all around blend, my own.

    I'm spending my time cleaning up the woods, of trash-saplings, and multiflora rose with my new Stihl chainsaw and DR Brushmower. Oh, and a lot of mowing. I'm getting a good stand of my grass/legume in the open woods I've created.

    Here's the question. After we get the place all fenced, we want to get started with a few "small cattle", 3 or 4 heifers, to start with. I don't want to deal with a bull. So, we'll get them AI'd. And maybe we'll adda goat or two to eat brush.

    We've both been reading & studying up on the "net" about Dexter Cattle & Highland Cattle. They'll give me something to do, when I'm not mowing.And maybe help with that chore too.
    I know that both breeds are known to be "Thrifty". Both Breeds are reputed to be calm and easy to handle. Both breeds should be well suited to our Indiana climate.
    Highland cattle are a bit bigger.
    Dexters do have the "Dwarfism issue". We probably would stay with the longer legged Dexters, for safety.
    Both breeds have their avid supporters.
    She wants Dexters, & I want Highlands.
    We only want them for the beef. We do NOT want the responsibilitiesof daily milking.
    We had polled Herefords when I was growing up, many years ago. I don't want anything that big. I have been around beef-cattle.
    Can any of you give me the benefit of your experiences with either or both Breeds? We'd appreciate any input.(;^)>
    At this point it looks as though we might end up getting a couple of each.

    Thanks for any information or experiences, especially if you've kept or been exposed to both.
    'Til Later.........
    Old John
     
  2. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My first thought when I started reading the post was why not a couple of each? You seem to have the answer. Since you are usin AI, keeping a bull of the right breed is not an issue. That said, Highlanders can calve unassisted in any kind of weather. They will also find any available grass or browse, even through several feet of snow. I would divide the woods and pasture, and limit grazing in the woods in the summer, and pasture them in the woods in the winter.
     

  3. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, get both that way you and the wife are both happy. You can do your own comparison. You may end up keeping both or you may prefer one from the other- but at least it will be your choice and no one elses. It should be a fun experiment, if you get both, can you let us know every now and then, the differences between them, and how they are doing. I'm biased towards Dexters-but I've never had Highlands!!

    Carol
     
  4. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    We have a Dexter cow and her 2 calves and a Highland heifer and bull calf. They're both great breeds and I couldn't choose just one. :) We're raising the bull to be our herd sire and we'll have registered Highlands. The Dexter is for our milk and we'll breed her to the Highland for beef calves. I do think overall the Dexters are a milder tempered breed but not by much. Highlands are more standoff-ish with strangers, once they get to know you though they're very friendly.
    You won't need goats with Highlands, they eat everything! The Dexters we have are pretty much grass only with the occasional tree branch thrown in. The Highlands eat the same stuff our goats go after and grass. They both do well on just pasture and hay and good free feed minerals.
    I would suggest you get a couple of halter broke heifers of each breed and see what you like best. :)
    Patt
     
  5. Old John

    Old John Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi All,
    Thankz, for the encouragement. I have a lot of work to do before we can buy that frirst heifer or cow. I have to get finished, cleaning the multi-flora-roses, out of the woods. Then, I'll have to fence the whole place. Big job.
    Actually, the woods could wait but I do NEED the fence. Oh, and some sort of barn, or shelter, for the cattle. Winter will be here, soon enough. It can get pretty cold, even in SW Indiana.

    I think, after a lot of reading & study, at this point, we've mostly just decided to go ahead, with all Highland cattle.
    We only want them for beef, not milking.
    They seem to be a lot more available.
    They don't have the dreaded "Dwarism-issue".
    They seem to be a bit hardier.
    Lastly, It'll make things just a bit simpler, only having one breed to study &
    learn, & experience.

    Again, thanks for the advice. I'll be on the Forums, reading up.
    'Til Later...........
    Old John
     
  6. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I don't think you'll regret your decision to buy highland cattle. My climate is colder than yours and they are ideally suited to the colder climates. It's actually funny to watch, it can be windy, cold and snowing like crazy and they are totally unfazed by the weather. We tend to have late springs and plenty of spring storms and the calves will be out running and playing in the foul weather while the longhorns are tucked away trying to stay warm. They are ideal for bush/forest since they are browsers and will keep the undergrowth cleaned up. I only have three cows right now and I've got two calves so I haven't eaten any meat but it's supposed to be very good. I don't find them aloof but they do size things up and that includes strangers or strange dogs. I give my cows a few days before I bother with their calves because they are quite maternal but they calve with ease and the calves are up and sucking so quick that there's no need to interfere. I find my highland calves to be every bit as strong and vigorous as the longhorns. We leave our horned cattle horned and they are kind to humans but unkind to predators, which is what we want.
     
  7. As a Highland Cattle breeder, if you have a small fold of cattle you will obtain a good carcass, but at the sam time have some majestic cattle to look at which depite the long horns are generally easy to handle. The are easy calvers and can produce a wealth of colours. The bi-products of horns and a tanned hide can also earn you a small income from your beasts when slaughted. Cheers Trevor http://www.kyloes.net

     
  8. Lynn & Chuck

    Lynn & Chuck Member

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    We have had a small herd of Highlands for a few years now and really enjoy them. As has been mentioned they are very hardy and cold tolerant. They calve very easily but we also wait a while before handling the calves due to the very strong maternal instinct. When we first got them I had been used to Angus/Hereford crosses so went over to check the calf and momma decided that I was a threat and whacked me a good one with her horns. Bruised me up nicely at that.

    She and I have come to an understanding since :haha: We have not found them to be agressive to people other than the mommas of brand new calves.

    We have butchered a couple of them and the beef is wonderful. Very lean and super taste.

    Hope you enjoy your choice of breeds.

    Lynn
     
  9. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Lynn, I had some advance training, we raise longhorns and I find that if I live by the three day rule, nobody gets in trouble. Try snatching a calf before the three days are up and you can bet momma is going to disagree with you. You are very right in saying that the cattle are not unkind toward people, I generally find my cows quite friendly and curious. We had to gather cows to move them out to summer pasture a couple weeks ago and we found the highlands don't chase, they simply brought up the rear and followed the horses into the sorting pens. At one point in time, they had my gelding backed into a corner, just sniffing him and checking him out. It pretty well blew his poor little mind, no cow has ever wanted to make friends with him before :haha:
     
  10. Taylor

    Taylor Well-Known Member

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    Hi, John, I sent you a private message about local Jersey herds (Indiana).
     
  11. Old John

    Old John Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi Taylor,
    Sorry to say, i didn't get your off-line email. You might try again.
    Thanks. Right now though, I wouldn't consider anything less, or other than Highland Cattle. It'll take awhile to get this place all fenced & ready.
    We're working on it, slowly.
     
  12. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    Is anyone here milking Highlands?
     
  13. angelak

    angelak Well-Known Member

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    Can you milk Highlands? How much do they give? Future cow owners want to know!

    Angela
     
  14. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Yes they can be milked and they are supposed to be good milkers. We plan on milking ours but that's about a year down the road. :)
    Patt
     
  15. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    Don't bother clearing your woods, the Highlands will do it for you. They will eat practically anything. Don't worry about a barn, they won't use it. At the very most a loafing shed, but even that won't be used if they can get in under the trees. As for fencing, Highlands are famous for not forcing fences. Install a good perimiter fence, but any cross-fencing can be done with single strand electric. I use pigtail posts and 14 g electric for my pasture rotation and have only had them go through it once when they were trying to get a coyote!
    I raise mine on grass and hay and get the tastiest beef.
    Good luck with your wee beasties.
     
  16. Paul O

    Paul O Well-Known Member

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    If you turn your highlands out to a winter field of mixed woods and pasture, how much additional feed is necessary, if any?
     
  17. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    Here in Western Washington because our winters are not severe my Highlands get by on 20 to 30 lbs of hay per day. That's for one pregnant cow with nursing calf and a yearling steer. I feed alfalfa, but that is only because the local hay here is too weedy for my tastes and first cut alfalfa is not that much more expensive. For treats they get winter squash, mangles, beets and rutabagas plus anything going bad in the root cellar and kitchen trimmings.