Current Edition

current edition

Guest Opinions

Dexter Cattle Showcased at the Wyoming State Fair

Written by James Goodrich

By James Goodrich, Wyoming State Fair and Rodeo Director


Each year, the Wyoming State Fair showcases Wyoming agriculture, culture and heritage. As part of this, we showcase some specific breeds that people can really get excited about. This year, we will be bringing back the Dexter Cattle. Dexter Cattle activities at the 2015 Wyoming State Fair are slated for Aug. 10-13, and the show date is Aug. 12.

The native home of the Dexter is in the southern part of Ireland where they were bred by small landholders and roamed about the shelter-less mountainous districts in an almost wild state of nature. The first recorded knowledge of Dexters in America is when more than 200 were imported between 1905 and 1915. In recent years, there has been a worldwide surge of interest in Dexter cattle. They are dual purpose, being raised for both milk and meat. Dexters are also the perfect old-fashioned family cow.

The ideal three-year-old Dexter bull measures 38 to 44 inches at the shoulder and weighs less than 1,000 pounds. The ideal three-year-old Dexter cow measures between 36 to 42 inches at the shoulder and weighs less than 750 pounds.

A milking cow can produce more milk for its weight than any other breed. The daily yield averages one to three gallons per day, with a butterfat content of four to five percent. Beef animals mature in 18 to 24 months and result in small cuts of high quality lean meat, graded choice, with little waste. The expectable average dress out is 50 to 60 percent, and the beef is slightly darker red than that of other breeds.

The first Dexter bull in the United States collected for artificial insemination (AI) was in 1968. Since that time, more than 50 Dexter bulls have been collected in the United States and made available to Dexter breeders. In 1994, a registered polled Dexter bull was used and also made available to other Dexter breeders that wanted to breed polled Dexters in the United States.

Beginning in 1960, for six years, Dexter Cattle were exhibited at regular annual shows at the Hamburg, N.Y. Fair. In addition, a special exhibition of Dexters, including an ox team that toured the fairgrounds, was held in September 1960, in Allentown, Penn. at the Pennsylvania State Fair.

Dexter cattle have steadily increased in popularity in America through the years as indicated by the increasing number of registrations and members in the American Dexter Cattle Association. In 1952 there were only 38 owner/breeders located in 18 different states. By year-end in 2005 there were a total of 797 American Dexter Cattle Association members located in 45 different states and four Canadian Provinces.

Come and see this breed at the Wyoming State Fair Aug. 10-13 or at the Dexter Show on Aug. 12.

Outside of the Dexter Show, there are many other reasons to attend the Wyoming State Fair. My top 10 reasons to attend this year’s fair are listed below.

1. Exhibit the results of your favorite projects and pastimes,

2. See your friends and family that you haven’t seen since last year at fair,

3. Promote your business,

4. Enjoy some food you can’t find anywhere else,

5. Shop for holidays and birthdays,

6. Participate in a part of Wyoming heritage,

7. Support your family and friends while they are competing,

8. Experience unique entertainment opportunities very close to home,

9. Honor people and events that make Wyoming great, or

10. Just plan to have fun!

The Wyoming State fair is a valuable resource to the state of Wyoming.

Help us continue to provide this unique atmosphere by supporting the resource that is the Wyoming State Fair – just as you would support any other resource that keeps our state strong.