What is a Dexter? Until recently, the smallest of European cattle breeds was not very well known, especially in the United States. The Dexter breed is a traditional Irish story of innovation, adversity, and survival. However with recent conservation efforts, and the official designation as a recovering breed by the Livestock Conservancy, Dexters are becoming a favored breed amongst artisanal farmers across Ireland and the United States, among numerous other countries.
Dexters are a heritage breed of cattle, selectively bred and developed in southern Ireland from the hardy cattle found in the mountainous regions of County Tipperary. Dexters were bred and developed for small frames and bodies, gentle dispositions, with good milking temperament and performance, in addition to beef production and general farm labor typically performed by ox teams. The first groups of Dexters were imported to the United States, and numerous other counties, between 1905 to 1915.
Dexter cattle are renowned the world over for their gentle dispositions, phenomenal beef taste, being naturally resistive to parasites and diseases which plague typical bovine breeds, as well as their easy birthing. Dexters are a hardy breed, thriving in conditions and locations where other cattle breeds struggle, all without unnecessary human interventions. Dexters love to forage on native plants, grasses, and woody species, unlike many traditional breeds of cattle, making them an ideal choice for intensive rotational grazing practices.
Here at Blarney Heights Farm, where we utilize both intensive grazing and silvopasture, Dexters were a natural choice for premium grass-fed and finished beef to provide to Western Montana. Their natural, and unique, “spider” marbling of the beef, along with the high CLA, Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9 content make Dexter beef revered, and the top choice, of gourmet chefs the world over due to its sweet, tender, and slightly nutty taste. Once you’ve tasted a grass-fed Dexter, you will never want to return to your “traditional” beef products again.