Anyone keep Dexter cattle for milking?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by AndreaS, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. AndreaS

    AndreaS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Part of our five year plan is to get a versatile family milk cow. Since we only have 11 acres, we were thinking one of the "mini" breeds of cattle. At first I thought that I wanted a Mini Jersey, because milk quality is my first priority in breeds. They are just SO expensive, and SO hard to find!

    I've been researching the Dexter breed since last year. It seems like they are more versatile. The meat quality is good, and they can be trained as an oxen team (we think one day we might try and used animal-pulled equipment). I know there are some things to look out for with Dexters, temperment wise, and also it may be hard to find one of good milking lines because they are most often raised for meat.

    My big question is this: I know their milk is kind of naturally homogenized. I was wondering if any of the folks on here use Dexters as a family milk cow and make dairy products from their milk. It is very important to me to be able to make great cheese, butter, yogurt, etc..I was wondering how the homogenized qualities of Dexter milk affect cheese making....

    I've read mixed things on websites about this subject, and was hoping to hear from someone who has first hand experience with Dexters as dairy cattle. [​IMG]
     
  2. lasergrl

    lasergrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you want a large amount of milk why not get a jersey? They ARE small alot of the times. Also you can get a jersey/dexter cross. I occationally see them go through sale barns here for about $600 for first calf heifer. Dexters are great for milk depending on how much you want, heck some people milk angus and zebus. I would get a dexter that is already gentled or get a bottle baby. I dont care for the temperment of a dam raised weanling.
     
  3. Sumatra503

    Sumatra503 Kozy Orchard Farms

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    I also would like to know. We have been looking into dexter cattle as a milk cow. We don't have much space and the smaller size and also the lower price are an appeal to us.

    We have a couple of milk goats, but we are looking to branch out.
     
  4. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've never had Dexters and know very little about them, but I've had full-size Jerseys and Holsteins. Never again will I get a Holstein. They're large, eat a lot, have low butterfat, okay tasting milk vs. yummy, and are more finicky than the Jerseys. We got our two Jersey cows from the sale barn, in milk and not pregnant, and they were reasonably priced. Jenny was a four year old at the time, beautiful classic Jersey cow, with a well-made udder. We got her for $800. Olga was a five year old at the time, with a bigger bag and more milk, but had one dud quadrant. We got her for $650. I would highly recommend full-size Jerseys.

    If you want some pointers of what qualities to look for in any milk cow, feel free to pm me! [​IMG]
     
  5. lasergrl

    lasergrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ive had jerseys, and I have a dexter heifer now. The dexter is no where as sweet and puppy like as the jerseys where. Trouble is around here jerseys are not very hardy and we dont have a barn. The dexters are very hardy in this cold wet weather. If I had a barn I would have a jersey. What ever extra they eat is worth it in the personality department I think. I will say that this 5-6 month old dexter heifer stays beefy on ONE flake of first cut hay and a handfull of grain each day. That is actually the same that my nigerian dwarf goats each eat in a day. Amazing.
     
  6. clarkai

    clarkai Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:We kept a small herd of dexters when I was growing up, and I can tell you that it's not naturally homogenized- the cream rises just fine, and very thick. Goat's milk is though, and it doesn't affect making cheese at all, unless you for some reason want to make skim milk cheese (yuk [​IMG] ) We never bothered making butter at the time, but the neighbors we sold it to did skim the cream off the top for their coffee.

    I would make sure you got one with a good temperament- the one I milked would take turns eating my hair, and scraping my back with her horns. Aside from that, though, she was a dear!
     
  7. knjinnm

    knjinnm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have any Devon's in your area or VA?
     
  8. AndreaS

    AndreaS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the feedback all.

    I was really thinking a mini would be the way to go because we are on small acerage, but mini Jerseys are just so expensive. I go back and forth on which would be best all the time.

    Maybe a smallish regular Jersey would be the way to go.

    I'm not familiar with Devon's, and don't know if we have any around here. Do you like them?
     
  9. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You probably know this, but Jerseys are a smaller breed to begin with. So you could try to find a small standard-size Jersey and save a lot of money, and still get a really good cow. [​IMG]

    Living on a Black Angus beef farm, I have a really hard time with miniature beef breeds. Doesn't that defeat the purpose? Kinda like having bantam Cornish? What's the point? I know Dexters are gaining popularity among hobby farmers as a triple purpose breed, but really, how much sense does it make to have a miniature beef animal? Why not have a full-size Jersey cow for milk and buy an Angus steer from a local farmer every year? IMHO, that's the best way to do it if you're short on space. Just my two cents worth. [​IMG]
     
  10. AndreaS

    AndreaS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey cowgirl,

    It's definitely an option we are considering. We were drawn to the Dexter's because of the multi purpose possibilities. We are thinking about using them as oxen as well, but Ive read from a few folks that they have used jerserys as oxen, so....who knows what we'll end up doing [​IMG]

    I think a lot of folks like the mini beef animals because the feed conversion is better? I'm really only going on what I've read and researched online though, I've not kept any cattle before.

    Since you have to breed a milk cow every year, I was thinking that having a mini would give us a better chance of selling the heifer calf's, and then we could raise the bull calves for an oxen team or for meat. I suppose We could do the same with a regular Jersey as well.

    Lol. You should see how long it took me to decide on chicken breeds! We are new to this life, and I do so much reading and turning possibilities over in my mind before I make a decision!
    [​IMG]
     

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