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Stackyard News Aug 2011

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Record Sale Entry for UK’s Smallest Beef Breed - the Dexter

A record entry is forward for the second show and sale of Dexter cattle at the Rare, Minority and Traditional Breeds Sale at Borderway Mart, Carlisle, on Saturday September 17.

The versatile dual-purpose breed is attracting increasing interest and the sale conducted by Harrison & Hetherington has 86 cattle entered with a varied selection of bloodlines.

The cattle forward from 16 different vendors include seven bulls, 63 pedigree females - not including calves at foot - and also a commercial section for crossbred females and yearling steers.

Veronica Schofield, of Beckside Farm, Ivegill, with Dexter steers and heifers.

Veronica Schofield
All cattle will be independently inspected by Border Dexter Group inspectors who will be available at the event to offer advice to new purchasers.

Border Dexter Group member Veronica Schofield, whose champion at last year’s show the bull Harron Lucky Jim, said: “Today the breed appeals to the growing number of part time farmers like myself who also have a full time job or who run another business.

“The virtues of Dexter beef which is fine grained, well-marbled with a great flavour have been extolled on numerous TV cookery programmes in recent years and producers have been adept in developing their own niche markets for the meat through farmers’ markets, farm shops or freezer packs direct from the farm,” she added.

The Dexter, the smallest breed of British cattle, originated in the south west of Ireland, yet it is only relatively recently that there has been renewed interest in the cattle in Eire.

First introduced to England in 1882, they were in demand by landowners who wanted small cattle to graze their parkland. These included Edward VII who was president of the recently formed society from 1901-2 as well as Lady Lonsdale, wife of the “Yellow Earl” at Lowther near Penrith.

Dexter cows and calves

Veronica Schofield
Today society membership is probably at its greatest with over 1,200 members in the UK and Eire. In 1977 there were 134 pedigree female registrations during the year with 70 on the grading-up register, plus 11 bulls.

In 2010 the society registered 2,328 female calves and 129 breeding bulls with a total of 22,183 live females on the database.

The easily managed breed has partly sold itself and while the majority of producers have smaller acreages, some herds now run into the 100s.

The breed’s resurgence has been one of the Rare Breed Survival Trust’s success stories, moving from its endangered list 30 years ago.

But it has also benefited from a forward-thinking society which has been heavily involved with issues including improving health, conformation and genetics and is now actively marketing the beef via its website.

Prospective purchasers can find out more about the breed from Breed Secretary, Sue Archer on 02476 692300. For sale information or catalogues contact Heather Pritchard at H&H on 01228 406230.

link Stobarts Charolais Sell to 5,600gns
link Sarkley Limousin Heifer Sale Sees Lead Price of 30,000gns
link All-Ireland Aberdeen Angus Championship Prizes to Top 3,000

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