As registered Dexter breeders we select for breeding stock potential. Our smaller herd size limits our selection capabilities, but artificial insemination enables us to bring new genetics into our herd. Part of our breeding standard includes striving to preserve the dual purpose traits of Dexters as a milk and meat breed. One of the great side effects in doing so, is that the cattle that don't "make the cut" in our program, also make great grass-fed beef for our table and those we sell to.
There are several factors that go into our breeding decisions. These include temperament, size (hip heights), conformation, milk production, udder type, build, color, polled status, pedigree considerations, beta-casein type, chondrodysplasia-free, and PHA-free status.
Our ideal Dexter is a well-tempered, stoutly built, easily trainable polled cow that maintains the small Dexter size without Chondro influence and is PHA free. We prefer red Dexters, but have a few dun cows as well. Many of the red cattle in our herd are also homozygous dun. As of 2011, we have taken an interest in the milk protein: beta-casein, due to the increased popularity in the potential health benefits linked to A2 milk. Our goal is to use diverse, unrelated pedigrees when we match up bulls with cows, and yet maintain the characteristics we desire in a Dexter. We have not, however, ruled out the use of selective line-breeding in the future to bring out favored traits in our herd.
After five years, we successfully eliminated PHA from our herd in early 2013. Through testing of offspring from postive dams, we have selected for negative heifers in order to keep their dams genetics in the herd. The timing of the discovery of the PHA gene in the Dexter breed was unfortunate, as it was one year (2008) after we had already purchased our animals (2007). Once a test was available we found out we had inadvertently bought 2 carriers, our herd bull and one cow. In addition we had also successfully artificially inseminated 3 cows to a carrier bull. Thankfully the carrier cow was not carrying a homozygous PHA calf, and calved a normal calf that year. At that time, we had to make the decision of what to do with PHA, do we cull it out or manage it. We were just building our herd, and complete culling would've been more costly for us than managing the problem. After studying what other breeds have done with PHA, we decided it was best for us to manage it despite the cost of testing our offspring.
In 2012, we butchered our only Chondro-carrying Cow due to fertility issues. Although we liked the appearance of our chondro carriers, they did not fill a practical role in our herd. We have decided to remain Chondro free as we continue to strive to provide a more uniform animal both for breeding stock and for our beef buyers.
Buyers can be assured that any breeding stock bought from Crooked Creek Ranch will be Chondro and PHA free!
The picture above was the beginning of our "Bella Legacy." "Grandmas Jingle Bella" is considered one of our foundation cows. Her 5 year old hip height was 42.5" and she carried red and dun. Her first calf, "CCR Buddy" (past herd bull) is seen in the background, her 2010 calf, "CCR Jaya", stands at her left, and her 2011 calf, "CCR SSAB Jitterbug", stands on her right. Her 2012 dun heifer calf, "CCR Jubilee" was kept as her replacement, as Bella has gone on to another herd. Her legacy continues through Jubilee and Buddy's genetics that will have lasting effects on the herd.
The picture above gives a glimpse of our "Josie Legacy." Josie is on the right side; her 2013 calf, Jane, is immediately to her right, and her 2012 heifer, Johanna, is behind Jane (Jacqui, her 2011 calf, is not pictured here). We purchased Josie the summer of 2011 from John Potter. Josie is a wonderful example of the quality breeding stock that John has been breeding for the past several years. We had purchased SGF SSEA Nick from John, and decided as long as we were making the trip to MI, we might as well bring a cow back also. I had picked out a different cow, but John talked me into Josie. She was one of his top cows, and needless to say, we are very glad he talked us into Josie. After we bought her she calved with a polled red heifer calf, SGF SAKE Jacqui, and John put her with SGF LMUL Dakota for the 2011 breeding season. As a result of that breeding, another polled red heifer, SGF SDAK Johanna was born at our place in 2012. Johanna had a wow factor the moment she hit the ground. She has stood out among the herd and any other Dexter, for that matter, as the stockiest well-built female we have ever seen. In 2013, exactly a year to the day, Josie gave us another polled red heifer calf, CCR CBUD Jane. Jane is the first combination of our Bella and Josie legacies, and is proving to be another superb Dexter. Our current herd sire, CCR SNIC Charles, is a grandson of Josie. Josie has become a phenomenal foundation cow for our herd!
Lane showed SGF SAKE Jacqui (Josie's 2011 calf) as a yearling heifer in 2012, and as cow calf pair in 2013 with her heifer calf CCR SNIC Ruby (Beau leading). Jacqui was the first Dexter ever shown in Deuel county.