having been preoccupied with Kerry’s in recent years it’s time to get back to business with the Dexters. We had a bull calf born 15 months ago to a bull and cow of desirable traits. He is young yet but starting to show some promise. Traditional breeding. Very small. Most 15 month old bulls would be packing more weight. This is a dairy project and the experiment will be towards that improvement. We have been fortunate to be blessed with good udders so far.
I'm interested in what drew your interest from dexters to Kerrys and back to dexters again. Is it milk you were after or something else? I was interested in kerrys until I saw that the number of them was to small to meet my goals, as finding a bull I am sure would be quite hard.
Where I am in New England there enough Kerry’s around now that they are somewhat obtainable. There is enough semen now as well, with a bull imported from Ireland last year adding to the diversity. I never left Dexters completely as I have had at least one bull and several cows right along. I have three Kerry cows as well.Plus a Kerry heifer calf just born. The old lines of Dexters are very similar to Kerry’s only half the size. While the old literature describes the Kerry as small, the are really equal to a Jersey in size. They have much better constitution than a Jersey but give about 25 to 28 lbs of milk. The milk has the same properties as the Dexters which seem to average around 18-20 lbs of milk. Proportionally the Dexter gives more milk. It is my opinion based on the old literature that these breeds were the same at one time. Both have gone through bottlenecks genetically and that plus some unknown crossing would attribute to the difference in dna profiles today. Plus the dwarf factor as historically an identifier of the Dexter breed. Again my opinion, but I believe the Dexter better identifies as the poor mans cow normally attributed to the Kerry. For whatever reason the two have drifted apart and the Kerry is very much it’s own breed. A very mystical breed distinct in its personality and manners. Harder to tame than a Dexter but much more loyal once you get her there. Don’t like strangers. All in all while I like and admire the Kerry the Dexter is more practical and economical. Easier to raise and maintain. And as you can see I select for dairy traits and my current Dexters look like miniature Kerry. Ultimately in ten years or so I will have produced some consistency in the dairy qualities in my herd. Good udders are the goal with slightly increased productivity. Sorry, that was the long answer.
I will be interested to hear your progress as I have a similar goal in mind. It would be interesting to see more people tracking dairy traits and productivity generationally in dexters. I am also very interested in a very low maintenance dairy animal, so I wouldn't want to see a Dexter turn into an over productive and unthrifty cow.