Having lost their place as a breed in the 1930’s at the Royal Ulster Agriculture Show because of the dwindling number of entries the Dexters made a comeback in 2013 when the Show moved to the Maze Balmoral site. Prior to this return to Balmoral the Dexters had been relegated in many NI Shows to being part of a mixed rare breed class. But as part of the promotion of the cattle, owners such as the Hilton’s, Bingham’s and a few notable others such as Ken Briggs and Fintan Murphy worked hard on the show scene promoting the Dexter.
The progress made since this RUAS return in 2013 has been phenomenal, with the Dexters now the largest cattle breed at the show in numbers, not size, with 70+ entries at the 2018 and 2019 RUAS Shows. The involvement of many young breeders from multiple herds in showing has perpetuated the growth of the overall ‘showing’ side in NI, and there are now six official Society shows with Dexter Breed Classes in NI (RUAS Balmoral, Ballymena, Lurgan, Castlewellan, Gosford and Antrim) with Antrim being the NI Premier show with annually 70+ Dexter entries.
Parallel to this the beef side has shown significant growth in NI with many restaurants and hotels now offering Dexter as part of their ‘authentic’ Irish fare. They are supplied by breeders with both small and larger herds some of whom have their own butchery facilities
Throughout this period of tremendous growth and consolidation of the Dexter breed in Northern Ireland, Deirdre Hilton was the guiding figure and in 2013 the NI Dexter Group were delighted when Deirdre was awarded her MBE at Buckingham Palace for “services to the Dexter Cattle Breed’ . As Prince Charles said on the occasion “can I take it the Dexters are now safe’ .... and in Northern Ireland they are ... and still growing in numbers
Text above is the property of The NI Dexter Cattle Group.