Owning Dexter Cattle
posted by:Rose Mayne
Dec 04, 2018

As members of the Dexter cattle association we are bound by a code of conduct [ethics] that we are expected to apply to our treatment of the breed.

This includes not only our treatment of the cattle and welfare for them while on our farm but extends to any sales we make.

Many new comers to cattle see a cute small calf at a show or a friend's farm and decide that's the breed for them.

We are very pleased that a Dexter has been the breed you have chosen, though as a custodian of the breed we like to ensure the new owner understands what it takes to own and look after a Dexter.

1] Dexter's are cows and they are herd animals with a complex social structure much like a human social structure, they don't like being alone and do not bond to any old farm animal. If you decide to have Dexter's you need at least two. Cattle are herd animals and are not happy alone. They will seek out other cattle for company.

Cows have a heat or cycle every 20 days approximately and while they are in cycle they can be excitable and noisy thus disturbing the peace day and night potentially disturbing the neighbours. By Law Farm animals cannot be kept on residential properties.

2] Laws in Australia in particular Meat and Livestock Australia [MLA] and RSPCA have criteria to own and transport your cattle.

Cattle Transport Cattle Transport


You must have a PIC number [property Identification Code] for your property before cattle can be transferred onto your property. It takes around 2 weeks to get PIC number.

There are lengths of time live stock can be transported in one go.

We do not allow any transportation from our farm in substandard pens, trailers or other means, we are happy to transport to your farm at reasonable cost in our stock truck or show float.

3] Property, you need enough property for the amount of cattle you wish to run (hand feeding can become very expensive when there is a shortage of feed), Although a Dexter at weaning may be small they will grow and the quarter acre back yard is no place for a fully grown cow, steer or bull.

A general rule of thumb is 10 acres for the first cow and five for every other cow.

Dexter Cattle

4] feed and water, a full grown Dexter will eat around 7kg of pasture or hay each day or equivalent to a half small square bale per head per day, mineral supplements are always a great Idea, we use the Pat Colby mineral mix this recipe can be found in any of Pats books and the ingredients are available at most rural stock feed outlets. 

Dexter Cattle

Water a full grown Dexter cow that has calf at foot can drink in summer up to 50 litres of cool clean fresh water and must have this available at all times.

5] Fencing, Dexter's are generally good on fences but like any animal if they are in need of something that is not in their own paddock [I.e. a cow in season looking for a bull] then if your fences are in poor condition she or he will find a way out. Good animals can pick up bad habits.

We recommend 7 strand plain wires [never use barb wire] with three of the wires being hot' [electric] or 5 plain wire and mid set out rigger hot wire.

6] Dexter's are cattle and like all breeds can and will at some time in their life need to be treated or handled by a vet or yourself.

At least basic yards or a small enclosed pen with a secure head bail to hold them in one place is a necessary.

Their health needs to be managed by either modern means ororganic methods for example internal and external parasites.

7] shelter, Dexter's need shelter from the heat of the day in summer and cold wind and rain in winter, this can be as simple as having a good stand of trees they can shelter under or as elaborate as your hay shed its up to you but they do have to have shelter.

At Darling Range Dexter's we like to spend time discussing your needs and expectations of a Dexter, we like to ask lots of questions and encourage you to ask as many questions as you can think of, THERE ARE NO SILLY QUESTIONS! And If by chance we do not have the answer we will contact others to find out for you.

We are required to ensure you understand what it takes to own a Dexter and we like to meet you and are willing to visit your farm to offer advice and ensure your Dexter will be safe and happy in its new home.

Dexter's are generally a calm breed of cow, that will love you back if you love them, we do not allow hitting with sticks, un-necessary use of a electric prod or aggressive behaviour around our cows and request that you agree to ethically treat your purchase from us.

To own a Dexter is more than owning a head of live stock, its being a custodian of a truly special and heritage breed that needs our help to live on and prosper.