Dexter looks right for beef farmers

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FARMERS are looking to carve out a slice of the market for Aberdeen Angus with one of the UK’s rarer and smallest breeds of beef cattle.

Their efforts are being aided by Edinburgh chef Fred Berkmiller, who has put Dexter beef on the menu at his L’Escargot Bleu and L’Escargot Blanc restaurants. Berkmiller believes Dexter could be “the next big thing”.

The meat – to be served as steak tartare, rib of beef and boeuf bourguignon – is coming from Sunnyside Farm in Dumfries, which has exclusively supplied Berkmiller’s restaurants with pigs, sheep and cattle for several years.

Though not as well-known as its larger commercial competitor, Dexter is a genuine ­rival to Aberdeen Angus, says Sunnyside farmer Dominic Smith. Fed on a natural diet of grass, Dexter is known for producing creamy milk and well-marbled beef.

“Everyone is pushing local produce and Scottish produce, but I think Fred is looking through that and trying to see the next thing coming through,” Smith said.

“The beef really seems to have hit a note with him. He even likes to come and sit with the cows.”

His interest follows recent official recognition for Dexter, which received registered certification at the end of last year. The mark ensures that the beef has been sourced from registered or birth notified Dexter cattle.

Hundreds of thousands of Aberdeen Angus calves are born in the UK every year, versus no more than 10,000 Dexter calves. Smith’s herd of 44 cows is typical of the average producer.