Specieswatch: dexters – the small cattle breed that is booming


These hardy animals, a third the size of a Friesian, are popular in conservation projects

Dexters are the smallest breed of cattle in Europe and among the hardiest, which makes them popular in conservation and rewilding projects. They are a third the size of a Friesian milking cow and other European commercial breeds of cattle. All these varieties go by the same Latin name, Bos taurus taurus, to distinguish them from Asiatic and African species.

Although they are now bred all over the world, dexters originated in the west of Ireland and are believed to be the domesticated cattle of the Celts. Curiously, about half have a genetic trait that gives them short legs, making them seem even smaller.

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