Dexters are the smallest British breed of cattle, they are a dual purpose breed and are efficient food converters, the ratio of their milk and beef production to food consumed is very impressive.
There are two types of Dexter; short leg and non-short (long) leg, both types are of equal merit. They come in three colours, Black, Red and Dun. The Dexter is extremely hardy and can live outdoors all year round. Due to their size and versatility, they are an ideal cow for small holdings, whether kept as dairy cows, sucklers or as house cows.
With regard to size and weight at maturity, which is about 5 years of age, female Dexters should be between 36 & 44 inches at the rump and weigh between 300 and 400 kgs. The bulls, as you would expect, are a little larger then the females, with a height range from 40 to 48 inches at the rump and they weigh approximately 450 to 550 kgs.
Heifers (females) mature young and can be put to the bull at 14 to 18 months of age and can continue breeding until they are fourteen years of age or more. As a rule, calving problems are rare and the calves are quick to get to their feet and are full of character with a lively inquisitive nature.
The breed are early maturing and the beef excellent quality and flavour with good marbling. Dexter steers can be finished off grass at 18 to 24 months old, with a live weight of approximately 350kgs. Because of their good meat to bone ratio, a killing out percentage of 56% can be achieved.
Holstein/Friesian and Guernsey Calves
The bull calves we have are bought in from local Dairy Herds, they are kept in small groups in the barn and fed on milk until old enough to be weaned. When old enough, they are then let out into the field to join the older calves and the Dexters where they grow naturally feeding on grass and calf mix, until they are ready to be used as Rose Veal.
All dairy cows have to give birth to a calf each year for it to produce milk, the female calves are then raised to give milk themselves when they are older. Sadly the bull calves born perfectly healthy don't make good beef cattle, so are usually an unwanted by-product. As a result, dairy farmers are often forced to either slaughter their male calves shortly after birth or to sell them to dealers for disposal, some get sent to zoos as animal feed, some are sent to the continent to be reared for veal in welfare standards much lower then our own, others are rendered down to tallow and burned in overseas power stations - this is such a waste of what can be a very good and tasty meat.
Veal production has a bad repetition due to the association with veal crates and inhumane farming methods, such as restricted access to daylight or space for the calf to move around. Thankfully there was a total ban on veal crates in the UK by 1990. Today we rear British Rose Veal to a much higher welfare standard, so it produces a low-fat, pink coloured meat that is delicious and can be eaten with a clear conscience.