Ron Metz

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since Jul 21, 2017
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Recent posts by Ron Metz

Hi Zeek,

Welcome to the discussion. Where are you located? Im in the Texas panhandle northwest of Lubbock. I initially was a member of ADCA because the dexters I bought were registered with them. Since then I have become an active member of PDCA and registered all my breeding Dexters with that organization. However I do maintain a membership with ADCA in case a buyer wishes to register a purchase there. My herd is pure horned. This past breeding season I used a Dun horned bull. All my breeding cattle are genetically tested before registration. We have embarked on a pasture raised beef program and will have some steers ready for market this summer.
2 months ago
TJ,
If the Dexters were being shown in 4H then yes, they would have to be registered stock. It sounds like your friends may have been sold some inferior stock. I can assure you the three animals with health issues you mentioned are not representative of the breed as a whole. Your friends are more than welcome to contact me or the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association(PDCA)for guidance or advice in locating responsible Dexter breeders in the Virginia area and/or quality Dexter cattle. Thank you for mentioning your friend’s unfortunate situation. The PDCA is very customer oriented and would be happy to offer assistance however they can.
6 months ago
TJ, thanks for the info. Out of curiosity, what area are you and the cattle from? Are the Dexters in question registered stock?
6 months ago
Hi TJ,

Yes Greg Judy is a good source for general info on rotational grazing. He is also a regular contributor to the Stockman Grass Farmer publication. His breed is South Poll which is a newer composite breed developed by one of the members of the band Alabama. Greg says his cows weigh 1000 lbs.

As far as several of your friends having high mortality with Dexters that is definitely not the norm for this breed. As a matter of fact it is exactly the opposite. They are very hearty cattle with excellent immune systems, high fertility and calving ease. I would be interested to hear more from your friends and what the circumstances were surrounding their Dexter’s mortality rate characterized as high. Maybe you can get them involved in this conversation or possibly relate some of the issues they were having yourself.
6 months ago
Hi D Nikolls,

Yes, slaughter costs will vary depending on the individual business doing the processing. We have a processor about 15 miles from our farm. They are inspected, but not for resale. Their costs are less than a processor that is federally inspected for resale packaging. They charge a $60 kill fee and .60/pound processing and packaging fee. In the case of using a “not for resale” processor in Texas the animal has to be sold alive to another individual at which time it becomes their property. I can deliver it to the processor but the new owner makes the arrangements with the processor as far as how they want the beef butchered. When it is ready they pick it up and pay the processor. I can’t have the animal butchered then sell the beef. It has to be sold alive pryor to processing. If a customer only wants a side of beef, then they have to find friends or family members to take the other half legally before processing. If you use a federally inspected processor and the beef is packaged for resale, you have more expense involved. It costs the processor more to have a federal meat inspector on hand to inspect, grade and stamp the carcass. Plus you have labeling, packaging costs and storage costs after you pick the product up. On the other hand you can charge more per pound of beef for this convenience to the customer. The bull we processed produced about 350 lbs of beef. That easily fits in a typical upright or chest freezer. The advantage to Dexters is the smaller cuts which are more practical for today’s families. Compare that to the typical 1100-1200 lb steer coming out of a CAFO. It will dress around 60% producing about 650 lbs of beef in larger cuts. Most families today don’t want to worry about what they will do with 650 lbs of frozen beef.

Because of their weight dexters are easier on the land. Their is much less soil compaction in pastures. They are also less picky eaters. Therefore you stand less of a chance of your better grasses being over grazed while others are ignored. Selective grazing exhibited by other beef cattle breeds eventually causes certain grasses to die out while allowing other less palatable grasses and weeds to take over.

Yes there is a direct correlation between feed consumption and size. But there is also another aspect to think about and that is feed consumption vs pounds of gain. Some beef breeds require more pounds of feed and more expensive feed to get a pound of gain. If you look at it that way, you will see the advantage of dexters over other larger beef breeds. Large beef breeds have higher costs associated with growth, maintenance and sometimes per pound of gain.
6 months ago
Hi Buster,

You are asking the right person about artificial insemmination. I am an AI technician certified by both Texas A&M university and American breeders Service(ABS Global). Success rate in AI is directly related to breeding at the proper time during the heat cycle, proper handling/thawing of the semen and the skill of the technician. When I was working for the bull stud and managing the heat synchronization/breeding of beef herds in south Texas, I achieved an 82% success rate. At that time, most beef producers would turn out clean up bulls after AI was completed to catch anything that didn’t take. If you have good nutrition, the semen is handled correctly and the technician is skilled, AI can be a very effective way to improve your herd without the expense and management considerations of keeping a bull around.

On the water consumption question....a good rule of thumb is 1 gallon per 100 lbs of body weight per day during cool weather. 2 gallons of water per 100lbs of body weight per day during hot weather. Adjust accordingly for lactating cows, cows being fed hay and during periods of extreme heat. Hope this helps.
7 months ago
Hi Andrew,

Stocking rate is determined by several factors. Soil condition(fertility), types and quality of available forage, rainfall and management practices. To determine your stocking rate, I would do a survey of the types of grasses available in your pastures. I would do a soil analysis to determine fertility in each of your pastures to see if anything is needed. At 50” ave rainfall a year, sounds like you have plenty of moisture. If you rotational graze and don’t overstock, you should be able to make it through dry spells without feeding hay. I’m curious to know with 50” of rain, how long do your dry spells last?

Our farm is in what is called the short grass prairie region of the Texas panhandle. It’s not unusual to have periods of no rain that last 3-6 months. In 2011, we received 2 inches of rain in 10 months. Before we bought our first dexters, I took soil samples in the areas we were going to fence for pasture. Our soil is a sandy loam. I was surprised when the soil test results came back saying nothing was needed. Our pastures have predominantly native grasses such as side oats grama, blue grama and buffalo grass. We also have some varieties of blue stem. It’s imortant to know what types of grasses your cattle will be grazing because not all grasses offer the same nutrients. For example, blue grama is a shorter native prairie grass than even when dry can have as much as 12-14% protein. Compare that with say Johnson grass which produces a lot of volume but may only contain 5% protein. I’ll give you another example. I bought some Dexters in eastern Oklahoma. When I arrived at the ranch, the cows were standing belly deep in grass but were pretty thin. The soil was very sandy. I suspected the soil was lacking in nutrients, therefore the grass was putting out volume but was also poor in nutrients. Got those cows home and within a couple of months, they were visibly putting on weight grazing our short native grasses rich in nutrients. if you know the condition of your soil and the types of grasses/forage you have it will be easier to determine your stocking rate using a rotational grazing system. Keep in mind, stocking rate is a fluid thing that depends on many factors and can change from year to year. Hope this gives you some guidance and feel free to ask any other questions.
7 months ago
Hi Kate-

I forgot to answer one of your questions. How much hay does a dexter require per day. Of course that depends on the quality of the hay. I have bought good quality native prairie grass hay for my cows and they do great on it. No need to go out and spend a fortune on alfalfa. Also feeding a little bit of alfalfa as a treat is not harmful, feeding just straight alfalfa can cause bloat. How much hay to feed? If good quality grass hay, the rule of thumb is about 2% of the body weight of the adult animal per day and adjust for conditions. In other words on  extreme cold days, up the quantity a bit. And if you are milking or the cow has a calf nursing up the quantity a bit. So if you have a dry(non nursing, non milking) Dexter cow that weighs 700 lbs. she will need roughly 14-15 lbs dry matter of good quality hay per day under optimum conditions. Compare that to the typical 1500 lb beef cow that will consume 30 lbs or more dry matter hay per day under non extreme conditions.
7 months ago
Hi Kate,

We chose Dexters because of the native short grasses in our area and the limited rainfall. We typically average about 19 inches of rain per year. So far this year we have had about 17 inches. We have extended periods of no rain and hot weather. During those times our native grasses go dormant to survive. The stocking rate rule for our area for the typical sized beef animal is one cow/calf pair per 19 acres. However with Dexters, we were able to comfortably stock 19 head on just under 50 acres. Of those 19 head, there are two steers, one bull, two coming 2 year old heifers and the rest were cow/calf pairs. That is roughly 2.6 acres per head and cow/calf pair. In areas with higher rainfall, good rich grass and using rotational grazing and good management you could conceivably stock two possibly three cow/calf pairs per acre. Just remember as that calf grows so does it’s nutritional requirements and if all you have is an acre I wouldn’t try the three cow/calf pairs.

As I mentioned earlier, we don’t milk our Dexters. If you would like, I can put you in touch with a lady that used to have a Dexter creamery and made artisan cheeses. She still has some Dexters she milks for her own use. Send me a pm with your contact info and I will ask her if she would be willing to fill you in.

7 months ago
Hi Chris,

Dexters are a dual purpose breed. They produce milk high in butterfat(3.5-4%) similar to a jersey. They make an excellent breed for grass fed beef. We slaughtered a grass fed 4 year old bull this summer. The beef has a rich deep red color and the flavor is wonderful. Stocking rates depend on rainfall and management practices however because of their smaller size, you can produce more pounds of beef per acre with Dexters than one of the larger breeds under the same rainfall and grass conditions. Dexter cows typically weigh 600-800 lbs, bulls weigh 900-1100 lbs. Dexters come in both horned(the traditional look) or polled and can be black, red or dun(a reddish brown color). All ours Dexters are black horned traditional variety. We stick with the horned variety because coyotes, bobcats and an occasional mountain lion are the predators in our area. With the horned cows, We haven’t lost a calf to predation. We don’t milk our Dexters, but several Dexter owners in the breed do milk their cows, some even have Dexter dairies. Dexter’s make an excellent breed for families looking to produce their own milk, beef or cheese or for folks with larger plans to produce grass fed beef or milk for local markets. They are an extremely hardy, healthy breed. The cows calve easily with calves usually weighing 35-45 lbs. Dexters are very fertile and on good pasture will breed back quickly. I turned our bull out and within 45 days all our cows were bred. Dexters are easy keepers meaning they thrive on a variety of forages. I have personally watched ours walk through rich green grass choosing to browse on weeds and nibble on brush before going back to the grass. I have seen our dexters even eat yucca while standing in a pasture full of native grass. No expensive feeds are required. Overall there are less maintenance and health costs with Dexters. In winter we feed ours good quality hay and a couple of pounds of range cubes per head per week. The range cubes are more of a treat to keep them trained to come to a bucket. Makes it easier to move them from one area to another when trained this way. Many dexter cows are long lived. It is not unusual for dexter cows to produce calves in their 15th year and beyond. We have a 14 year old cow that produced a calf and bred back this summer and is in perfect health. I know of a dexter cow in Missouri that this past summer produced her 16th calf at the age of 18. She is still going strong. Overall, horned or polled, they are a calm docile breed but as with any breed there can be individuals that are exceptions so when looking for Dexters pay attention to temperament. My wife and I can walk amongst all our horned Dexters without fear or worry. But I also paid close attention to each animals temperament as part of the selection process when buying them. As an example of the general overall temperament of the breed, we could easily walk amongst the cows with newborn or young calves. My wife characterizes the temperament of our cows as resembling a friendly dog. I hope this gives you a good idea of some of the traits of the Dexter breed.
7 months ago