Friday, May 8, 2009

Our Love Affair With Dexter Cows

I never thought I would say this, but I love cows. My husband grew up with cows, but the past few years have been a first for me. What gentle, wonderful creatures. I should actually say "little creatures" because our cows are Dexter cows, an old breed that originated in Ireland.

They are a lot smaller than your typical cow, therefore easier to handle around the barn yard. Our cow had her first calf last summer (my first calf, too) and I was so pleased at how easy the birth was. We bonded that day, Molly was in labor and I sat with her under the trees, keeping the flies away from her. When the time came for the calf, I was right there with her. Not that she needed me. Instincts kicked in and everything went smoothly. It was a happy day for both of us, and Emma entered the world. Emma is half Hereford, half Dexter (Molly was already bred when we got her, or else we would have bred her with a Dexter).

When the calf was born, we thought we would try letting her nurse and also try to milk Molly as well, so that we could get a little milk. That worked for about 2 weeks, then, the little pig got all the milk. I am not sorry, because Emma has grown into a beautiful cow. All that good milk, all she wanted, was good for her.

Dexters make a nice homestead cow because they produce a decent amount of milk, are good for meat, plus, with the addition of a yoke, are good workers. We haven't tried that with ours yet, but it is in the plans for the future. I would love to be able to use our own animals to haul out our firewood (no noisy gas engines). They are quite easy to train, ours love carrots and apples, and we have them trained to come when we ring a bell (we always give a treat.....I think bribery is a great thing).

I hope Molly's labor goes as easily this year as it did last, and I hope I can be right there with her.
Molly and Emma


  1. I hope you don't mind that I'm commenting all over your blog. I'm enjoying reading it.

    We got our first cow three years ago. I like cows now. When she had her calf the next year, we left him with her to nurse. We got milk for the first couple of weeks as you did. After the calf was 3 or 4 weeks old and beginning to eat grass/hay, I would separate him from his mama during the day or over night and then milk before letting him back with her. That way, we got milk, too. He didn't suffer any (we've done the same with goats in the past).

  2. I am very glad to get all your comments, dp!

    I might try that with our next calf. The problem with Molly is that she is so protective of her babies and we don't have a very good barn yet. But after 3 or 4 weeks it might be easier to seperate them a bit and try to get some milk. Sometimes it drives me crazy to have a milking cow and no milk!

    I agree.....cows are great. I really enjoy ours.

  3. I am considering a Dexter cow to work my way towards a self suficent farm, Where did you get molly? I can not find any near maine.
    Thank you for any help or advice.
    I live on 3 acres in Maine.

  4. Marissa, a Dexter makes a great cow to have, although they can be strong headed at times (or maybe Molly just knows she's the boss). We got her from a friend, who has since passed. I don't know of many people that have Dexters, at least not for sale. Have you looked in Uncle Henry's?

  5. I have been dreaming of getting some Dexters. this makes me even more determined to find one!