Keeping Dexter cows

Keeping Dexter Cattle.

What you need to know before purchasing your first Dexter.

• You must have access to grazing.
• Some form of shelter.
• A holding number.
• A herd number.
• A movement book.
• A medicine book.
• The name of a good local cattle vet.

1) As a rough guide allow approx one acre per mature animal, if your Dexters are going to have free access all the year round. However if your land is not well drained you will probably have to house them for some part of the winter.

2) Cattle, which are kept out all year round must have access to a field shelter and supplement feeding in the form of Hay or silage. Mineral blocks & water must be available at all times.

3) Before you can move any farm animals onto your land you must have a holding number and this is obtain by contact the RPA on the helpline 0845 6037777 and ask to be issued with an agricultural holding number. They will take a few details and within a couple of days you should be issued with your new holding number.
The holding number is referred to as a CPH number and is made up of numbers to represent the County and Parish the holding is located in, along with your own unique farm (holding) number.
You also need to contact your nearest AHVLA (Animal Health & veterinary Laboratories Agency) who are responsible for issuing herd marks to enable you to obtain eartags

4) It is also necessary to register with The British Cattle Movement Service - (BCMS) If you intend to keep cattle, who are responsible for registering and monitoring the movements of all cattle throughout the country via the cattle passport scheme.
They issue and register passports for all newborn calves and must receive details of the birth and the eartag number, within a specific number of days after birth. Currently 20 days from date of birth for Dexters. All cattle must be fitted with 2 eartags. Ask for the smaller sized eartags for your main tag currently allowed for Dexters. Button or metal tags can only be used as the second tag.
Miss this deadline and a passport will not be issued, effectively rendering the animal worthless, as it cannot be moved from the holding, sold or slaughtered.
Registration is an easy process.
Once you have a CPH number and a Herd number, contact the BCMS Helpline on 0845 050 1234.

BCMS will send you an abundant supply of bar-code labels to use on the passports and movement forms, numerous books explaining the system and cattle welfare regulations.
Cattle movements and births can be notified "On Line". The system is easy to use once you have tried it and a training package is included on a CD.

5) All movements on and of your holding & births must be recorded in a movement book. These can be obtained from the farm record site.

6) A Medicine book can also be obtained from the farm record site this is needed to record any medicines, vaccines or wormers you may use on your cattle.

7) It is always useful to register with the local farm vet just in case you need them in an emergency, if you don’t know one ask around your local farmers.

Joining a Dexter Group.

Before you can register any stock you must join the Dexter Cattle Society if you wish to retain a pedigree herd, however around the country there are local groups and you do not have to be a member of the society to join these and it’s a good way to meet like minded people and join in local dexter activities and most groups have newsletters and websites. The local group in the North is the North of England Dexter Group. For the other groups check out my link page

Feeding Dexter’s.

All Dexter’s need a good supply of grass and although they will happily graze on rough pasture they still need supplementary feed in winter and during times of a shortage of grass.

A mineral supplement must be available at all times, and in times of extremely wet weather and early grass flushes cows with young calves are more susceptible, care must be taken to make sure they have a supplement with a good supple of Magnesium in, as at these times cattle are at risk of magnesium deficiency

In winter in most cases you will have to supplement their feed and as a rough guide one large round bale (approx weight 350 – 400kg) will last a Dexter around 30 days or ½ small bale a day if no other food is available.
It is much more economical to purchase large bales and as most of these will be wrapped in plastic they will store o.k. until they are opened, and if you do not have facilities to store them inside they can be covered with a plastic

If you are lucky enough to have the type of grassing that can take the challenge of cattle running out in winter with out your grazing for next year deteriorating to much, this is an ideal situation for the little cattle but they must still have some form of shelter for times of extreme wet weather.

I hope all the above information is helpful for more useful information
Check out our links page.