get to know our dexter cattleMOOO-ving IN

October 1, 2015

Did you know tomorrow, October 2nd, is World Farm Animal Day? And, we are celebrating our Dexter Cattle and their refurbished digs.  Today, October 1st our Zoo Farm cows returned to their renovated home. The Zoo Farm will be opening soon so you can see all of the animals in the Zoo Farm and get reacquainted with Ruthie and Judy.

Here’s a few fun facts about the Virginia Zoo Dexter Cattle.

  • These cows have been at the Zoo for since 2003.
  • Dexter Cattle are a triple purpose breed.  They can be used to produce milk, as beef, or even as oxen to move heavy things since they are very strong.
  • The Dexter breed is the smaller breeds of cattle They stand around three feet tall and weigh between 800 and 1000 pounds.
  • Dexters are predominately black but also come in red and dun. They have black skin, a short face with a broad forehead and short horns.
  • The native home of the Dexter is in the southern part of Ireland. Being a mountain breed they are extremely hardy and can live outside all year round.
  • The cow has four stomachs and undergoes a special digestive process to break down the tough food it eats. When the cow first eats, it chews the food just enough to swallow it. The unchewed food travels to the first two stomachs, where it is stored until later. When the cow is full from this eating process they will rest. Later, the cow coughs up bits of the unchewed food called cud and chews it completely before swallowing it again. The cud then goes to the third and fourth stomachs, where it is fully digested.
  • Dexter cattle are part of the Bovidea family.  Making them relatives of the Watusi cattle, the yellow backed duiker and the bongo that can be found in Africa here at the Zoo.
  • Here at the Zoo, they eat hay, produce and grain.