Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the sheaths on Dexter bulls are getting more pendulous? Are breeders not selecting against this trait? Where is it coming from(although I might already know what the answer to that question is)?
As Gene's reply infers, not a lot of breeders know to select away from a sloppy sheath, apparently including Gene.
I've seen the trait in a lot of older lines because until about 20 years ago, about the only trait selected for was height, using dwarfism. Most of the early Dexter owners on both sides of the pond were rich and famous, and knew diddily squat about conformation.
Gene, the sheath supports the penis. You want the penis when erect to point to the heels of the front legs for the perfect angle to engage, once the bull has mounted the cow. About the only breeds I know of who don't try to follow this are Brahmin and Santa Gertrudis.
Dexter are especially subject to small hernia-like blobs of skin just in front of the sheath, and in cows at the navel. In most cases it's just extra skin, not a true hernia, but unattractive anyway. Woodmagic were subject to this, as well.
Common trait in historical Dexters. Seems to mostly be personal preference and doesn't seem to have a big effect one way or the other on breeding performance. I've seen bulls vary quite a bit with no effect on performance. I don't love pendulous, but only because I've been told that I'm not supposed to love it.
In looking at old pics of dexter bulls, sheaths seem to have been quite tight. I raised the question because over the years sheaths seem to be getting looser. Maybe breeders don’t realize it is a trait that can be selected against. During my days at the bull stud, I saw bulls with pendulous sheaths that experienced infected prepuces. Not a pretty sight and not something you would want to have to deal with. Bulls with pendulous sheaths stand a greater chance of dragging it through thorny brush, sticker bushes, cactus etc thus increasing their chances of injury. We once had a beefmaster bull at the stud with a sheath so pendulous he stepped on it once while getting up. A bull with a sheath injury is a reluctant breeder and gravity will compound an infected prepuce problem. I also believe cows with excessive navel can contribute to a bull calf having a pendulous sheath. A tight sheath is the best scenario.
It's obviously not a black and white issue because some breeds prefer looser and some tighter. But lots of old historic Dexters were looser. You don't want too-tight,ntoo overly loose, but there is a very wide range of healthy variability. Lots of old historic Dexters were on more pendulous. This is very healthy and normal.