dexter

There are around 800 different breeds of cow in the world. The ones at Mudchute are Dexter Cattle which are small and stocky are a rare breed which is surprising because they produce a lot of milk and are apparently good to eat.

The males are called bulls and before they have their first calf the females are called heifers, afterwards they are called cows. They are pregnant for nine months just like humans are and make fantastic mothers.

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They are very sociable animals indeed and they only ever chose to be alone if they are unwell or if a female cow is about to calve .They love to solve problems, like opening their food racks to eat up all the straw, or working out how to open gates to get out of their field.

Cows can see about 360 degrees around them, but they can’t see very well just in front of their face, so they have to turn their heads sideways when they want to take a good look at you. And they see in colour and have a most excellent sense of smell which can find an interesting scent up to 6 miles away.

Their worst habit is to use their twenty three centimetre long, bristly, wriggly, strong tongues to pick their noses with.

They spend about 10 hours a day lying down but can quite happily sleep standing up. So that they don’t get cold they have thick skin and hair covering them.

Mostly cows eat grass, but it is best to give them extra nutrients and grains to keep them healthy. They never eat meat and are always vegetarian.

They have about 32 teeth but no top front ones. When they eat grass they grab it with their tongue and cut it against their lower teeth before chewing it up and swallowing it. They chew about 40-50 times a minute for 8 hours a day. Like goats, sheep deer, giraffes and lots of other animals, they are ruminants. This means that they need four stomachs to digest the grass thoroughly and get the goodness from it that they need.

rumination

One cow can eat about 40 pounds and drink up a whole bathtub full of water in a day. Because they eat such a lot of grass they munch it up more quickly than it can grow. So sometimes the cattle go away on eating holidays to other farms to graze their fields and give time for fresh new grass to grow on the Mudchute again.


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We are very excited to be welcoming two lovely black dexter cattle to our herd here at Mudchute. The beautiful Moomin Tamarisk and her daughter Twiglet join us from Kent. Mother and daughter are black, short-legged dexters. Both cows have been shown and mum Tamarisk is a champion! They seem to like it here at Mudchute already, making friends over the fence, grazing and enjoying each other’s company.

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Before joining us, the pair were part of a larger herd, whose work included conservation grazing. Moomin dexters have even taken part in conservation grazing projects on the White Cliffs of Dover. A dexter’s small hooves and light weight make them ideal for keeping fast-growing and vigorous grasses down without compacting downland soil the way larger cattle might. Dexters are the smallest native breed of cattle in the British Isles and you can find out more about them from The Dexter Cattle Society.

We are extremely grateful to Mrs. D. Smith for generously donating one of the pair to us here at Mudchute and to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust for the purchase of the other.

The exciting news doesn’t stop there either! Both mother and daughter are also pregnant, so we hope to hear the pitter patter of even tinier hooves in the autumn.

New neighbour?

New neighbour?

Meeting the neighbours.

Meeting the neighbours.

Mum and daughter relaxing after the journey.

Mum and daughter relaxing after the journey.

Settling in.

Settling in.

The newcomers approve of Mudchute grass!

The newcomers approve of Mudchute grass!