May 19, 2010

Homestead Research

It could be six months, it could be five years before we are on our own homestead. But I would be a lazy "future farmer" if I didn't use the time I have now to research what I would like for our homestead. Why waste time?

Currently I am researching cattle breeds. There are several factors that will play into what breed we go with. My ultimate goals are having milk, and beef for the freezer. The animal must have a purpose. Originally I was looking at mini jersey's, because I read an article online a few months ago. But, they are known for their milk, not their meat.

Then Deborah at Antiquity Oaks, started writing about her Irish dexters that she has gotten. The more I read the more I find that they would be a perfect fit for us. Some of our requirements are:

-Produce a reasonable amount of milk. We cannot use 8 gallons a day, and with the government cracking down on the sale of raw milk, I don't need to be in court fighting them.

-Small enough to be manageable. I cannot with my CRPS, man handle a cow that towers over me. It just isn't going to happen. Neither will the kids be able to manage it.

-Good meat production. So far, everything I have read tells me that an Irish dexter will dress out at about 50-60% of his overall weight. That means that if you have one who is 800-1000lbs, you are going to get between 400-600lbs of meat out of that bad boy. That is plenty for us for a year. If we butchered 2 a year, that would also give us enough to either sell some, or share with family, as the economy gets worse.

-Must be able to justify the cost of upkeep and feeding compared to the output of meat and milk. Dexter's don't need a lot of pasture due to their size. This is perfect for what we are wanting. Especially if, when we do find land, it is only 2 or 3 acres, as opposed to 10.

Here are a few links to articles and information on Dexter's for you to peruse:

The Amazing Irish Dexters - Mother Earth News article

Dexter Cattle - Great overview on their history, and appearance and temperment

Magee Family Farm
- They raise dexters, and they give a point by point list of reasons why they work for them.

How Now House Cow - Article from Grit Magazine on Dexters

Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America
- You will find a WEALTH of info on this site!

This should give you a pretty good overview of the breed, info on raising, and what to expect. If you do a quick search of the net, you will also find forums, blogs, etc. with first hand experience from those already raising these beautiful animals.

I can't wait for the future! Self sufficient here we come!!

Be blessed!


  1. Welcome to Dexters. You do know, don't you, that you're not going to get a 1,000 Dexter...unless it's a bull. I'm eating my last bull, but usually we steer them A steer will be about 700 lbs max
    Also, Dexters are not picky grazers. They browse as well. Most breeds will pass by lots of the plants in your pasture. They can be forced to eat them, w/ MIG. But, Dexters will willingly eat those plants. We do co-graze, w/ haired sheep. Better meat & no shearing! :)

  2. Linda,
    Thanks for the additional info. Yep I do know that 1000 is unlikely, unless I feed the poor boy until he explodes lol. But even 700 or so is plenty for our family for a year. Can't wait to get my own!!