Wednesday, November 12, 2014

TBF 089 :: Dexter Cattle, The Big Bin Ordeal, and a Hard Lesson Learned

**As I transition to www.TheBeginningFarmer.com I am quickly realizing I'm not as web savvy as I had hoped! In the meantime I will be posting here as well for those of you subscribed through RSS ... and hopefully will have that fixed soon.**


The very first "farm animals" that we had while we still lived in town were chickens that we raised in our backyard. But, while still living in town the second "farm animal" that we began purchasing were our Dexter Cattle. Obviously we weren't able to keep them in town (the police even made us get rid of our chickens), but my dad only lived a little more than an hour away and had plenty of pasture, so that is where we began our herd. Before I knew it we had way too many Dexters because I had been finding way too many "good deals". At that time (around seven years ago) I was completely enamored with the Dexter breed, with grassfed cattle, and with having cattle as the center piece of our farm. Times have changed quite a bit and while we still do have our Dexters I am beginning to question their place on our farm. Not cattle as a whole, but the Dexter breed specifically.

While I very much appreciate the smaller size of Dexters, the tri-purpose use that they can have, the great flavor of their meat when raised solely on grass, and of course their stately looking horns ... there are somethings that are beginning to make me question whether or not they are the best fit for our farm. Over the years I have often had this thought pop into my head in regards to high price for breeding stock compared to the amount of meat you receive from each steer, but recently a few other questions have begun bouncing around my head and they have me thinking maybe it is time to shift my focus when it comes to cattle.

Generally speaking, while I do love my little Dexters the economic realities of wanting to have a wholly viable and financially sustainable farm has me question where they fit into the picture. I think the real question then becomes what are your goals for having cattle on your farm. Do you just want a small herd to provide a few steers for you, your friends, and a few customers? If that is the case then maybe they are a perfect fit for you. But, if you would like grassfed beef to be more than a small sideline to your business then I think you should at the very least consider other options ... or maybe even write-off Dexters completely.

What does that mean for this beginning farmer and for Crooked Gap Farm? Well, the jury is still out and honestly I probably won't be quick to make a decision on this one because I have quite a bit invested (time, money, and emotions) in even my small herd of cattle! I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below or join in the fun on The Beginning Farmer Show on Facebook.

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1 comment:

milligansganderhillfarm said...

I know what you mean Ethan, I think if you are just raising cattle for yourself and a few others the Dexter is a great breed. I used to think the Scottish Highland cattle were the breed we would like to raise but now I am thinking about Red Devon or the Galloway. Those two breeds are bigger and do real well on grass and hat alone.

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