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Author Topic: My new Dexters  (Read 2721 times)


  • Joined Jan 2015
My new Dexters
« on: April 30, 2016, 01:22:31 pm »
I finally collected my first cattle last Wednesday, a couple of Dexter steers. One red, one black, very handsome boys, aged 18 months and 16 months respectively.

They seem very nervous and spooky, especially the (younger) black one. I've put this down to them having never been away from their birthplace  - it must have been stressful being trailered away and finding themselves in new surroundings with strange sights and sounds.

For now I've got them in a fairly spacious shed with some outdoor space and lots of straw and am feeding hay. They've never been handled as far as I can tell, and they spook easily and dash round their pen. I am trying to get them used to a bucket with a few nuts in, so that I can eventually use a bucket to lead them where I want them to go and to reward them for being handled. So far, the red one will take a mouthful of nuts while I'm standing no closer than 3 yards away; the black one just tries to hide behind the red one. They are both very scared of me (and anyone else!) - they are actually trembling, and panic very easily. They also seem to have lost some condition since they arrived, although they have adlib hay and are eating, but they seem so afraid! I don't believe they've been ill-treated, just not handled. I think (hope) it's just the shock of being removed from a large group of youngsters and finding themselves in a new environment.

Are they too old already to be properly tamed and (hopefully) halter trained? I just need a bit of reassurance that I'm approaching them in the right way (ignoring them while I move around the pen to feed / water /straw down and then using pressure/release methods that I've used before with horses). My concern is that if they don't calm down they are going to endanger themselves and anyone who is looking after them too.


  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: My new Dexters
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2016, 01:46:17 pm »
I have tamed water buffalo which are older than that, but they were cows. I think once they get used to you, it will take some time, and don't consider you a threat they will calm down. I would still take precautions though as grown cattle can be very dangerous; time and patience is key. Have you handling facilities at all? I would give it a long time before you halter train them, they may be a bit old for that, let them get used to you first and take things step by step it will take some time, but they will learn to trust you and get used to the system which you keep them on. All the best with everything :thumbsup: and do let us know how you get along with them 
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: My new Dexters
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2016, 01:57:11 pm »
I suggest going near enough for them to notice you're there then backing off.  Don't look directly at them - you're a predator and they know it.  Look away or close your eyes.  The more often you can do this every day the quicker they'll come to realise you';re not a threat.  Also watch out for shadows across sunny areas of the shed and loud noises such as banging metal gates, revving engines, dogs barking and other stuff they may not be used to. 


  • Joined Jan 2015
Re: My new Dexters
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2016, 02:19:44 pm »
I am avoiding eye contact, and giving them plenty of space, just moving round their pen to do what's necessary as slowly and quietly and non-threateningly as I can. It's early days, they are still babies really and have been removed from everything that was familiar to them. I'm hoping that time and patience will do the trick  :)


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: My new Dexters
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2016, 03:02:13 pm »
At 18 and 16 months they are not babies ... if female they would have gone to the bull.   Be very careful Dexters can be very lively (legs easily reaching head height.)  What did you buy them for?

I hope my steer at 18 months  will be  ready for the freezer. 

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.
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  • Joined Mar 2010
  • Just when I thought I'd settled down...!
Re: My new Dexters
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2016, 05:35:40 pm »
Keep doing what you're doing, but bear in mind dexters can be bouncy and giddy (and fast!), and without an older beast to keep them in check you might get teenage excitability as well.
You could take a book and plonk yourself just outside the pen, might tempt their curiosity.


  • Joined Jan 2015
Re: My new Dexters
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2016, 09:55:21 pm »
Backinwellies - they are for the freezer.  We've been advised that they won't be mature enough for meat for another 12 months or so. What breed do you keep that are ready at 18 months?

Yorkshire Lass - If it's not snowing tomorrow I am going to sit on a bale nearby, with a book.

This afternoon I made some progress - they can now tolerate me in the pen without trembling, and even took a few mouthfuls from their buckets while I was there. Much calmer all round.


  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Staffordshire
Re: My new Dexters
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2016, 10:07:26 pm »
They will settle with time.
Our dexters get sent off at 24/28 months off grass alone, depending on the time of year as they live out 24/7.


  • Joined Jan 2015
Re: My new Dexters
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2016, 08:26:17 pm »
More progress today.

Both of them sniffed at my hand when I held it out to them over the fence this morning. Then this evening they sniffed at the bucket of nuts while I was still holding it, and ate from their buckets while I was standing only 2m away. Overall they are much calmer and settled. So relieved that they are beginning to respond!

Also a couple of the ewes started making friends with them through the gate :D



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