They require less fuel, don't need as much space and are easier to handle.
When Charles Townson began looking for cattle to raise, he discovered Dexters.
The Broome High School teacher and his family are raising the minicattle on Beavertree Farm near Cowpens.
Townson said Dexter cattle are a fairly uncommon breed. He's the only person he knows raising Dexters in the area.
But that could soon change. Sally and Warren Coad, North Carolina farmers who raise Dexters, were featured earlier this month in a Wall Street Journal article about the growing market for minicows.
"In the last four years, (Dexters have) surged in popularity," Sally Coad said in a phone interview.
Unlike many other minicattle, she said Dexters haven't been genetically modified to be small.
They've always been small, "dual purpose" beef and dairy cattle, she explained.
Coad said they're adorable, but is quick to point out they're not lawn ornaments.
Townson purchased three cows - Bryanna, Moonpie and Glory - from the Coads about a year ago.
Like any good teacher, he did his homework first. He researched on the Internet and joined some online groups for more information about cattle.
Townson wanted a breed with a good disposition. He hasn't been disappointed with his Dexters. He describes them as gentle. They're also "good learners" with outstanding memories, he said.
Dexters originated in Ireland. Three-year-old bulls should stand 38 to 44 inches at the shoulder and weigh less than 1,000 pounds, while cows should stand 36 to 42 inches at the shoulder and weigh less than 750 pounds, according to American Dexter Cattle Association guidelines.
Townson now has seven Dexters on Beavertree Farm. His plans are to be able to sell six to 10 calves a year.
Three of the cattle share a pasture with chickens and goats - all under the watchful eyes of two Great Pyrenees dogs.
Because they're half the size of standard cattle, they require less food - ideal in a drought and on Townson's 16-acre farm. Minicattle each need half an acre to one acre, Townson said.
While they are smaller, they are more efficient. When processed for meat, Townson said standard cattle get 50 percent meat compared to 60 percent meat from Dexters.
Per pound of animal, Coad said, Dexters produce more meat and cost less to get a pound of beef to the table.
A lot of people have decided they want to raise their own food, and Dexters don't require much land.
Another benefit that Townson and Coad see is the Dexters' ease with calving because their calves are significantly smaller.
A calf named Keegan weighed about 35 pounds when he was born Aug. 13 at Beavertree Farm.
Townson halter breaks the cattle, a process that can take from one week to one month.
Dexters are more economically feasible, cost less to raise than standard cows and are "family friendly."
He doesn't have a second thought about his youngest children - ages 11 and 12 - stepping into the pasture with the cattle.
"We've just been thrilled with them," he said.
2012 Show Results:
ADCA Grand Champion Female Youth Division - Breeze
ADCA Reserve Champion Female Youth Division - Redbug
ADCA Show - mulitple class winners in Youth and Open divisions!
2011 Show Results:
Western NC Mountain State Fair, Fletcher NC.
Grand Champion - Sugar
Reserve Grand Champion - Spice
SC Junior Beef, Clemson SC.
Grand Champion - Violet
Reserve Grand Champion - Jewel
WNC Spring Fling, Fletcher NC.
Junior Heifers - B Dazzle - 1st place; Summer Yearling - Sugar - 1st place; Spring Yearling - Spice - 1st place; Senior Yearling - Raven- 1st place; Grand Champion - Sugar; Reserve Champion - Raven.
2010 Show Results:
WNC Spring Fling, Fletcher NC.
1st Place Spring Yearling, Belinda; 1st Place Junior Yearling, Janie; 2nd Place Junior Yearling, Priscella; 1st Place Senior Yearling, Caroline; 2nd Place Senior Yearling, Rose; Grand Champion, Janie; Reserve Champion, Caroline
1st Place Novice Showmanship - Caroline Horne; 2nd Place Novice Showmanship - Christen Horne; 3rd Place Novice Showmanship - Trey Daly
SC Junior Beef Round-Up
1st Place Junior Calf - Spice shown by Raina. 1st Place Early Sr. Calf Coco Puff shown by Raina. 2nd Place Early Sr.Calf Bonnie Joe shown by Rachel. Calf Champion Coco Puff. Reserve Calf Champion Bonnie Jo. Late Junior Yearling 1st Place Belinda shown by Logan. Junior Champion Coco Puff. Reserve Junior Champion Belinda. Early Junior Yearling 1st Place Janie shown by Rachel. 1st Place Senior Yearling Rose shown by Trey. Senior Champion Janie. Reserve Senior Champion Rose. Grand Champion Janie. Reserve Grand Champion Coco Puff. Rachel also placed 5th in Junior Showmanship!