NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: New Dexter Herd  (Read 1912 times)

Alan Timms

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Little Gringley Retford
New Dexter Herd
« on: September 11, 2017, 05:05:33 pm »

Together with a friend we are looking to start a Non short Dexter herd on 7 acres of not too good pasture. Can you advise on a suitable beginning I.e. An in calf heifer with a calf at foot etc etc? Pasture maintenance, plus a health programme and diet particularly over winter. Any advise and thoughts would be appreciated please.

Thank you.

Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Nov 2013
  • Cambridgeshire
Re: New Dexter Herd
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 08:31:30 am »
Have you read the book by my good friend and neighbour Ted Neale?

Helen Wiltshire Horn

  • Joined Apr 2014
Re: New Dexter Herd
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2017, 08:28:32 am »
Hi, I haven't thought through my answer a great deal and I have 10 acres of good grazing (though shared with sheep) but I thought that I could tell you how we started out.  The issue you may run into is having enough cattle on site to keep each other company, if you send cows away to the bull/send to the abattoir.  We started with 2 steers for fattening and a cow (supposedly in calf).  We now have 2 cows (mother and daughter) who we send to the bull at more or less the same time and the calves get to have other youngstock to keep them company.  We then tend to buy in a steer or two for fattening as we tell to send the heifer calfs.  Mine stay outside all year round but they do have a field shelter in the Winter.  I don't feed hard feed routinely but they are fed hay in the Winter in a cattle handling system which we find invaluable.   That way they can be caught and get used to coming into an area daily where they can be contained.  I also bought a crush early on which I wouldn't be without, even though it isn't used a great deal.  I find that having the right equipment (most of which I bought second hand) minimises stress when you do have that situation which needs dealing with.  I also bought a Masterject as I find doing IM injections hard and often have to treat the animals by myself.  My little luxury! I also found a chap who runs a dairy herd to help on an adhoc basis and he is probably better at dealing with routine medical issues that arise than my vet and much cheaper.  Anyway, we are by no means expert at this but I hope that this helps, or at least gives you something to think about.


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: New Dexter Herd
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2017, 08:48:07 am »
We have Shetlands - you can see lots of stuff on the website, especially in the diary.

We started in 2010 with two weaned heifer calves aged about seven months; I spent the winter halter training them and that has been a great investment of time. I still have one of the two (I sold the other a few years ago to another breeder) and she's expecting her 7th calf; I also have her daughter and her daughter's daughter plus a heifer from 2016, who's sold, three calves from this summer and the bull, plus two 2016 steers that I'm running on for beef next year. The females and the bull are halter trained.

I house the cows and bull in the winter - saves the grass from poaching - and feed them straw and some sugar beet every day. I tie them up every day to establish the habit - we milk in the summer.

We treat for worms and fluke at the appropriate time after housing - we use Closamectin pour-on for the males and maiden heifers after 7 weeks and Albex drench at the fluke dose for the breeding cows after 12 weeks. There are very few flukicides licensed for use in milking cows.

During the summer, I use Spot-on every six weeks for flies and ticks.

We vaccinate the calves with Bravoxin 10 at two and six weeks; the breeding cows and heifers get an annual booster but we don't boost the beef steers orthe bull. We don't do the bull because we change our bull every two years - the "retiring" one goes in the freezer (although our current boy is so good natured, I'd be tempted to keep him).

The cows get their feet trimmed once a year by a specialist trimmer. We tested for Johnes, IBR and Lepto a few years ago and of course we have to test for BVD every year. Our herd is BVD negative. We're not required to routinely test for TB - it's on a risk base and we're a closed herd apart from the new bull every two years (we buy a six month old bull calf and use him for two seasons). When we buy in the bull, we test for Lepto and IBR, TB if required and of course only buy from BVD negative herds.

So far, it's worked for us  :fc:


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