The history

of Dexter Cattle

The native home of the Dexter is in the south and southwestern parts of Ireland where they were kept by small landholders and roamed about the mountainous districts in an almost wild state of nature. The origin of the Dexter is quite obscure. The common assumption has been that the Dexter breed was derived from the Kerry breed or that it was a cross between the Kerry and some other breed, perhaps the Devon. It has also been claimed that a “Mr. Dexter”, agent to Lord Hawarden, was responsible for developing this Irish breed by selection from the “best of the mountain cattle of the district”.

In January 1887, the “Farmer’s Gazette” of Dublin published the first register of “Pure Kerry Cattle and Dexters” in Ireland. This first Register included 46 Kerry bulls, 100 Kerry cows, and only 10 Dexter cows. It did not include any Dexter bulls. The Royal Dublin Society acquired rights from the publishers of the Farmer’s Gazette for this Register. In 1890, the cattle with the original numbers assigned to them, were thus included in Volume One of the “Kerry and Dexter Herd Book”, as published by the Royal Dublin Society in Ireland. The Royal Dublin Society, Volume One included 118 Kerry bulls, 942 Kerry cows, 26 Dexter bulls and 210 Dexter cows. By January 1912, the Royal Dublin Society had published fourteen volumes with the following number of animal registrations: 678 Kerry bulls, 3,565 Kerry cows, 565 Dexter bulls, and 2,349 Dexter cows.

The English Kerry and Dexter Cattle Society was organized in 1892 in England. Before that date, breeders of Kerry and Dexter cattle were obliged to register their cattle in the books of the Royal Dublin Society of Ireland. Volume One of the English Herd Book was published in 1900 and Volume Two was published in 1902. By January 1912, eleven volumes of the English Herd Book had been published and the following number of animals registered: 238 Kerry bulls, 1,334 Kerry cows, 455 Dexter bulls, and 1,820 Dexter cows.

In 1924, the English Kerry and Dexter Cattle Society changed its purpose to the exclusive one of promoting Dexter cattle and adopted the title of the “Dexter Cattle Society” in Volume 25 of their Herd Book. Herd Book Volume 27, in 1926, showed that 986 bulls and 3,896 cows had been recorded since the foundation of the English herd book in 1892.

The introduction of Dexters to America probably occurred long ago, when there was no distinction made between Kerries and Dexters in importations. The first recorded knowledge of Dexters in America occurred when over two hundred Dexters and Kerries were imported to the United States between 1905 and 1915. A large percentage of these were imported to Elmendorf Farm (Elmendorf Herd) in Lexington, Kentucky, Howard Gould (Castlegould Herd) of Port Washington, New York, and Mrs. James J. Hill (North Oaks Herd) of Gladstone, Minnesota.

In 1910, Professor Charles S. Plumb of Ohio State University, sought by correspondence to ascertain information on the ownership and size of Kerry and Dexter herds in America. He sent letters to every person whom he could find owning these cattle. Less than 20 herds were located, but some of these were large and were actively engaged in development. There was interest in forming an organization, however it was not expedient to have a meeting. Consequently, the interested breeders formed an organization by means of correspondence and a mail vote and it became officially known as the “American Kerry and Dexter Cattle Club.”

In July 1911, leadership for the American Kerry and Dexter Cattle Club was chosen: G.M. Carnochan of New York, New York was elected President; C.H. Berryman, Mgr. Elmendorf Farm in Lexington, Kentucky was elected Vice President; Charles S. Plumb of Columbus, Ohio was elected Secretary-Treasurer. At that time, they also formed an Executive Committee consisting of G.M. Carnochan, C.H. Berryman, C.S. Plumb, Maurice Molloy - agent of Castlegould in Port Washington, New York, and B. Nason Hamlin of Boston, Massachusetts. They also adopted Articles of Association by mail vote. The membership fee was set at $10.00.

The American Kerry and Dexter Cattle Club kept Kerry cattle registrations separate from Dexter cattle registrations, each forming an independent group. The offspring of a cross of Kerry and Dexter was regarded as a “cross bred” and was ineligible for registration. The American registration record through January 1, 1919 included 16 Kerry bulls, 61 Kerry cows, 52 Dexter bulls, and 240 Dexter cows.

Here is a record of early Dexter breeders explains the development of the breed from 1914 onward:

F.E. Stevens of Glen Falls, New York was actively breeding Kerry cattle prior to the formation of the American Kerry and Dexter Cattle Club in 1911.

Mrs. James J. Hill of Gladstone, Minnesota imported Dexters in 1914 and established the North Oaks Herd. Mr. H.C. Lawton was employed as the “Superintendent Breeder of Dexters” for this herd. Additional animals were later purchased by Mrs. Hill from Mrs. Clarence Moore of Washington, D.C. and from Elmendorf Farm.

Mrs. Whitelaw Reid owned the Ophir Herd in Purchase, New York. It was a small herd of both Dexters and Kerries.

In 1914, August A. Busch of St. Louis, Missouri purchased Dexters from C.D. Gregg of St. Louis and established the Grant’s Farm Herd. Additional animals were purchased by August Busch in 1915 from Elmendorf Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. The Elmendorf Herd was dispersed in 1917.

In 1917, James N. Hill of New York, New York purchased a small herd of Dexters from Elmendorf Farm and established the Big Tree Herd in New York.

In 1917, E.F. Simms of Houston, Texas purchased a small herd of Dexters from Elmendorf Farm and established the Xalapa Herd in Paris, Kentucky.

In 1917, William R. Bush of Benson, Vermont purchased a small herd of Dexters from Elmendorf Farm and established the Mountain View Herd in Vermont.

In 1917, the Castlegould Herd was sold to Daniel Guggenheim of Port Washington, New York. Guggenheim changed the herd name from Castlegould to Hempstead House.

Several years later, a part of the Hempstead House Herd was sold to Mrs. Louisa Satterlee (Dover House Farm) of Greenwich, Connecticut.

Foundation stock for the Clove Brook Herd (last owned by Jan van Heerden, son-in-law of Mabel Ingalls) was obtained from Mrs. Ingalls’ mother, Mrs. Louisa Satterlee (Dover House Herd). Mrs. Ingalls also imported Dexters from England.

The foundation for the Peerless Herd in Decorah, Iowa; was obtained in 1918 by John Logsdon for his daughter Nancy Logsdon from the Elmendorf Herd, Grant’s Farm Herd (August A. Busch), and North Oaks Herd (Mrs. James J. Hill). Later, Nancy Logsdon acquired two of Daniel Guggenheim’s bulls: Warrior of Hempstead House and Captain of Hempstead House.

The last registration record (all registrations and transfers up to and including December 31, 1920) of the American Kerry and Dexter Cattle Club were published in a Herd Book in 1921 and included 63 Dexter bulls and 260 Dexter cows. Soon after the publication of this Herd Book, the club ceased to operate and its records were put in the care of the Animal Husbandry Department of Ohio State University. There had been no Kerry registrations since 1920.

In 1940, the American Kerry and Dexter Club was reorganized by John Logsdon of Decorah, Iowa and Roy A. Cook, Secretary of the American Milking Shorthorn Association. Mr. Cook served as Secretary-Treasurer of the American Kerry and Dexter Club until his death in 1949 and he published a second printing of Volume I of the American Kerry and Dexter Club Herd Book with entries of 471 Dexters, including those of the first printing from 1921.

In 1944, when the Peerless Herd had their first public sale, the herd numbered 150 head of cows and heifers. Ownership of the Peerless Herd was passed from Nancy Logsdon to her sister, Daisy Moore, and then to Daisy’s daughter and son, Kay Moore Baker and Michael Moore. The Peerless Herd is the oldest Dexter herd in the United States.

In 1950, Mrs. Daisy Moore was elected Secretary-Treasurer and continued such duties until September 1982.

Starting in the 1950’s, Mrs. Mabel Ingalls (Clove Brook Herd), Stewart and Frances Kellogg (Bedford Herd), Edward C. Lord, and Mrs. Margaret Rhodes imported several head of Dexters from several prominent herds (Grinstead Herd, Atlantic Herd, and Parndon Herd) in England. Importations of Dexters from England continued in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The first Dexter bull in the United States collected for artificial insemination (A.I.) was Parndon Bullfinch and semen was made available to Dexter breeders 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, Fred Chesterley (Llanfair Herd) imported semen from England from a registered polled Dexter bull, Saltaire Platinum. Mr. Chesterley used Saltaire Platinum in his own breeding.