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Dexter Cattle - Black, Red and Dun

Dexter cattle come in three solid coat colours, black, red and dun.

Being a predominantly black breed, animals with red or dun coats were particularly hard to get during the early years of Dexter cattle in Australia.


These days, with many breeders having spent considerable time, effort and expense to develop purebred animals in colours other than black, it is now affordable to pick your colour at will. Colour once commanded a premium price but these days price premiums are more likely to be aligned with structural correctness and potential productivity than colour alone.


All three colours are of equal merit for registration and showing. The depth of colour in dun and red animals varies depending on the genetics, the season and the type of feed.


Red and dun colours are the work of recessive colour genes so both parents must carry one copy of the gene in order for a calf to be born coloured.


If both parents are dun for instance, the calf will be dun and the same with red. If one parent is dun and the other black but carries a dun gene there is a 50 per cent chance of the calf being dun. If one parent does not carry a dun gene the calf will be black. This also applies to red animals. If both parents carry more than one colour gene there is a possibility of getting red, dun or black. Reds can have dun calves, duns can have red calves and blacks can have all three, it all depends on the genes. Black is a dominant gene so if a calf has one black parent that carries no other colour genes the calf will be black regardless of what colour the parent is or what colour genes it carries.


Regardless of the colour you prefer the selection of animals for conformation and temperament should always be the first criteria.    


Searching the Herdbook for colour:

If you are wanting to search for colour genes in your herd or in animals you are thinking of adding to your herd the information is included in the pedigree of each animal registered in the Dexter Cattle Australia Herdbook. 


Simply search the DCAI Herdbook Database, type in the animal's name or herdbook number to make the pedegree details accessible. By clicking on any of the antecedants and checking their colour you will be able to identify if there is a possibility of colour in the genetics of the animal you are researching.

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