We raise pedigree organic dexter cattle; a small, hardy, low maintenance, docile breed, ideally adapted to the Irish environment.
Dexter cattle are a traditional Irish breed, originating in Munster almost 300 years ago, from the historical Celtic and Kerry cattle that would have roamed the area in pre-historic times. They are a low maintenance, hardy breed, adapted to the hills and the bog and can calve on the mountain without assistance and also out winter without sheds. The breed almost died out but over the last twenty years has been revived and Dexters are now popular, particularly as their beef is prized by many top chefs.
The Mini Cow
The Dexter is a small breed, often known as the ‘mini-cow’ and reaching an adult height of only about 1.5 metres. They are a dual purpose breed, suitable for beef or milk production. Traditionally, wealthier farms would have had a couple of Dexters and used them to provide the family with both milk and beef. Due to their small size, they require much less feed than continental breeds (but still count as a livestock unit for the purposes of calculating grants). Although they produce less beef than larger cattle, the beef is sought after for its' flavour and high degree of marbling.
Derry Duff Dexters
At Derry Duff, we have been rearing organic rare breed Dexter cattle since 2008. We breed our herd for premium beef and as a way to generate manure for use in our tree and shrub nursery. We believe in low impact, sustainable farming and animal husbandry techniques. Our cattle spend their lives happily ranging free, grazing on our mountainside pastures, living on a natural diet of mountain grasses and heathers and are never confined in cow sheds. Over more than 10 years of selective breeding, we have created a polled herd (hornless). Without the trauma of de-horning, as is normal practice, the cows tend to be much more trusting, docile and easy to handle.
Considering the Environment
Research is showing that organic, regenerative methods such as extensive grazing with low stocking rates can improve soil carbon sequestration thereby helping to offset the damaging emissions from the cattle. Keeping the mountain grazed and naturally manured, whilst avoiding the use of artificial fertilisers and poisons, increases the diversity of both plants and wildlife on the farm, helping to create a healthier more balanced environment. As a result, our beef has a lower carbon footprint and is more environmentally sustainable than standard beef. We have pioneered the use of sprouted barley grain as cattle feed in Ireland. We do not buy in silage; we sustain the cattle largely on the mountain grass, with a small amount of organic protein supplement and organic seaweed meal.
Our herd size varies but is relatively large and at any given time, we normally have some organically certified cattle to sell, many of them polled. If you are an existing Dexter farmer looking to extend your herd or if you are thinking about starting a Dexter herd, or keen to move towards self-sufficiency, please contact us to see what animals we have available. All our cattle are pedigree certified with the Dexter Society.