NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: A question about our Dexter  (Read 2528 times)


  • Joined Jun 2010
A question about our Dexter
« on: October 31, 2011, 12:05:31 pm »
Hi all

once again Im turning to ye good people for some advice, we have a six year old heifer and her four month old calf, here in Ireland we can't get AI straws for a Dexter and we cant get them from the North of Ireland as they wont send them across the border, we could take her to a bull around two hours from here, our dilemma is, should we wait until next year to get her in calf?  My reasoning is that if we put her in calf now she would calf around August time next year and that to me is late in the year as we would be heading into Autumn/winter and the grass wouldn't be there for the calf's first few months (bearing in mind that her first calf will be running with her).  However if we wait until next year to get her in calf then we would be talking about getting her in calf around July/August in order for the calf to have spring grass the following year, I know its a decision we have to make ourselves but any advice or thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated, we only have the cow this past six months so we are new to cattle.

Thanks in advance

Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: A question about our Dexter
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2011, 01:27:33 pm »
I'm not terribly experienced either but my understanding is that it's better to keep them breeding. I hoped to calve mine in April and just expected them to get pregnant at the first AI. Didn't work like that so mine are due end May and end June next year - the hard bit will stopping them having too much grub in the last 3 months, which can mean a big calf, so harder calving. I'm hoping to have them bulled quickly next year and bring their calving date back.

When I suggested to the breed society rep that I give up trying to get them in calf this year - because I didn't want and autumn / winter calf, she advised carrying on trying - and they both took soon after that.

An August calf shouldn't be too bad - if the cow's in good condition, she'll milk off her back. You might have a bit more for winter forage, as she'll be feeding the calf but the Dexter should be pretty low input, I'd have thought.

Can't you get straws from RBST?


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: A question about our Dexter
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2011, 02:50:26 pm »
We're a small, low input, commercial suckler herd.  We calve year round, although do tend to have less Sept thru Jan than the rest of the year. 

If you calve her August you will need to make sure she and the calf get plenty of forage from October onwards (she'll make it plain when she needs it, I would think!) but if you are okay for hay / good silage, I wouldn't worry about an August calf.  It'll be three months old before the wintry weather really gets going - and they can take quite a lot of cold, it's wet that's the problem.  As a purebred Dexter it'll be fairly hairy, so well weatherproofed, won't it?  Do you have a shed or stable they could come in to if it gets really wet?

She'll self-wean her 2011 calf, I would think.  If it's getting close to August and she hasn't weaned it, would you be able to separate them?

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Brendon Hills
Re: A question about our Dexter
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2011, 05:12:47 pm »
We have a small herd of dexters and from past experience we have had little success with AI and always go to a bull. I would get her in calf again as soon as possible but if you can't then wait till July. Our girls usually calve in April but we have one young heifer going off to the bull next week who will hopefully calve in august 2012. We feed all our girls a dietof rolled oats and barley and  hay during the winter , so they are in good condition to calve in the spring.Good luck whatever you decide to do. :cow:


  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Port O' Menteith, Stirlingshire
Re: A question about our Dexter
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2011, 10:31:18 am »
In this part of scotland many farmers autumn calve. Many don't start calving until september! These herds are usually cross simmintal cows to a charollias bull and are OUT wintered! I recon your dexter will easily cope so long as she has a full belly and perhaps a little corn to help her along.
Something to watch with summer calves is fly strike on the navel. Easy to treat but not always easy to spot.
It's always worse for someone else, so get your moaning done before they start using up all the available symathy!


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