A Problematic Month

September 30th, 2016 by Kim

I love my Dexters!  Anybody who talks to me about them will quickly see that.  As a hardy heritage breed, they are known for not having much in the way of problems with health, breeding or calving.  It’s one of many things that we really love about them.  But no breed is 100% free of problems.  Sometimes management or diet related issues can cause health problems.  And then there are always those individual animals, that for whatever reason have a weakened immune system or some other issue that makes them more prone to problems.  And sometimes, crap just happens!

Janie's lovely udder, 2 weeks after calving.

Janie’s lovely udder, 2 weeks after calving.

Apparently, August was my month for major problems with my Dexters.  And on top of the cows, the Anatolian pups have also been experiencing bone-growth related issues common to large breed pups.  So I feel a bit like I was in crisis mode the whole month…not fun.  Now that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath, here are the two big “Dex-asters” I faced.

Janie Gets a  Chance

CPR July Jane was due with her first calf mid-August.  Even though Dexters are known for having few calving difficulties, I usually keep a close eye on my girls when they’re getting close to calving, especially my heifers.  I put them in the barn overnight so I can check on them easily, and if there IS a problem they’re in a convenient spot.  Janie had started bagging up & getting ready early, so was being put to bed in the barn at the beginning of the month already.  I put her in on the evening of the 4th just like normal, but didn’t see any significant changes to put me on high-alert…so I didn’t check on her during the night.  We got up to a dead calf on the ground the next morning…and will never know what went wrong or why, or if I could have changed the outcome by being there.  Janie had been AI’ed to Belle Fourche Clay, and the calf was a red heifer, so I was extremely disappointed. Read more »

A Positively Great AGM

June 30th, 2016 by Kim

Yes, the ADCA 2016 AGM was just that!  There was such a positive atmosphere about the whole thing, that it really & truly was a fun, exciting weekend.  Some very positive things came out of the Board Meeting and we had an Annual General Meeting without any major controversy.  However, the thing that stands out to me as the biggest positive was the judging at the show.

This year we had two excellent, highly qualified judges for the Youth & Adult shows.  They are both coaches for the KSU Livestock Judging Team, who absolutely know their stuff, and did a fabulous job explaining the good & bad they saw in each animal.  It was quite a change from the typical “beef breed” judges that have normally been acquired for our AGM’s.  A great, positive change, if you ask me.  Finally, our Dexters were judged as DUAL-PURPOSE animals, based primarily on their CONFORMATION. Read more »

Our New Team Members

May 29th, 2016 by Kim

Early this spring, we decided we needed some new help around the farm.  The current members of the team were not doing their job to our satisfaction any longer.  This resulted in the death of about a dozen laying hens over the course of a week.  What happened?  We had a pair of coons getting into the chicken coop overnight, and our two old farm mutts couldn’t have cared less.  Thankfully, Jeff was able to kill the one coon a few nights into the massacre, and a neighbor killed the second one a few days later.  The coop was gone over with a fine-toothed comb & tightened up, and the hens were safe once more…for the time being.

The new Anatolian pups: Batu, standing front left, and Demir sitting.

The new Anatolian pups: Batu, standing front left, and Demir sitting.

But, it convinced us that we needed some livestock guardian dogs who would do the job right.  LGD’s were something we’ve talked about over the years, but since we never had any real predator issues, we never pursued the idea.  A couple weeks after the chicken massacre, a friend a few hours north of us announced the birth of 11 Anatolian pups out of her breeding pair.  BINGO!  We reserved two males as soon as possible, and they came home with us on May 18, at 8 1/2 weeks of age.  Since the Anatolian is a Turkish breed, we decided on Turkish names for them…Batu, meaning “strong”, and Demir, meaning “iron”.  We hope they live up to their names. Read more »

CULL….A Four-Letter Word?

April 29th, 2016 by Kim
Taquito is a nice looking steer calf...but not breeding material.

Taquito is a nice looking steer calf…but not breeding material.

Being a responsible Dexter breeder & breeding for improvement in your herd often requires culling animals that don’t measure up to the standard.  Unfortunately, it seems that some Dexter folks think cull is a four-letter cuss word.  They’d rather sell every single calf that hits the ground on their farm as registered breeding stock than even think about culling.  And that tendency is not doing the breed any favors.  The reality of breeding is that, no matter how excellent your breeding stock, some matings just don’t work out so well in the genetics gamble, and you end up with a poor quality calf.  Sometimes the best answer is simply “beef…it’s what’s for dinner”. Read more »

Breeding a Better Dexter

March 30th, 2016 by Kim
Rousseau is a wonderful combo of beef & milk genetics, and consistently passes his docile, friendly disposition.

Rousseau is a wonderful combo of beef & milk genetics, and consistently passes his docile, friendly disposition.

A few months ago, I updated our “Breeding Program” page, adding a list of our breeding priorities here at Hope Refuge Farm.  Some people may think that having such high standards doesn’t matter unless you want show-quality animals, and that your average, “mediocre” Dexter is fine for merely utilitarian purposes.  Besides, a mediocre Dexter & a show-quality Dexter produce milk & beef that taste the same, right?  And, since some people may want just a pet or lawn ornament & that is a legitimate use for a mediocre Dexter as well, why should we bother trying to breed something “better”? Read more »