American Dexter Cattle Association

ADCA Talisman Award
2006 Winner - Diane Mills-Frank - Beaver Dam, WI

In 2005 the Directors of the ADCA established an award to be given in honor of long time members John & Belle Hays. It is called the Talisman Award in recognition of their herd name. The award is to be given to a Dexter Family or individual that has promoted the Dexter breed with tireless passion and integrity.

The first bit of advice you might get from Diane Mills-Frank is, "If you know nothing about raising cattle, don't get into the business until you get yourself a mentor." A mentor can help you get through all kinds of situations. For example, how to tell when your heifer or cow is ready to be bred, how to tell if she is pregnant, what to do if she gets mastitis, when do you wom, what do you worm with, should you get a bull, and many other questions you will encounter. Her mentor was Margaret Millhouse of the Valley Farm, in Baldwin, WI. Margaret helped Diane through many a situation, and they were friends for years.

Having some experience with raising bottle babies of some of the larger breeds, Diane decided Dexters would be a lot easier to handle. By the time those bottle babies were 18 months old, they were as big as a pickup. At least you can push a Dexter if you needed to! Besides, they take up a lot less space and eat less. So Diane got her first Dexter in 1997 - Lazy L's Little One, ADCA #4770, or "Miss Dex". This tiny, little 10-year old heifer was aquired from E.M. Lesko, from Brodhead, WI and spent the rest of her days as Franks' pet at Nature's Paradise in Beaver Dam, WI.

Later, they acquired Maebell (from Margaret Millhouse), who had a heifer, she became Margaret, named of course, for Diane's mentor. Margaret was one of those original, horned, black beefy heifers, and one of the few Diane left with her horns. Another of the early cows in their herd, was Rose. Rose had a little heifer named Puff, and they, too, were well very special members of Franks' herd. But, then, Diane will tell you that every one of their Dexters is special.

We can't forget the boys. Their first bull was MLW Manitwoc Mark's Sam #10427. Sam was such a delight, making their first experience with a bull very pleasant. Diane used to take Sam for walks. I bet that was a sight. Now, they have Ben of Old Orchard #14598. Ben is a 3 year old son of RFF Postal Patron, from Shaun Lord's herd, not a local bloodline. The Franks are cautious to diversify genetics within their herd.

Evidently, Diane is also a firm believer in an animal being manageable. Horns are removed from the animals at one month old. Each is halter trained and learns to stand tied without tearing up the place. They are also taught to back up if asked. Diane believes that those natural horsemanship trainers have the right idea. She feels those same techniques should be used when training your cattle. Dexters are smart. They learn quickly. Take advantage of that and give them a chance to give back to you. A firm yet gentle hand, a soft spoken approach, and patience go a long way with animals, and she finds that especially true with gentle-natured Dexters.

When asked if she shows her animals, no, but proudly announced she is taking 2 Dexter cows to the World Beef Expo in Milwaukee, WI in September. Those 2 will only be on display, but she has already informed the Expo people to work a Dexter Class into next year's schedule, because she promises there will be enough Dexters present to show. Diane answers all inquires she receives about Dexters. She says people need to learn as much about these cattle as they can before buying any. All too often, people will buy a cute little Dexter, and then 9 months later they sell it, because they learned it was a cow! So, Diane tries to give as much info as she can to prepare potential buyers for their responsibilities.

At Nature's Paradise Farm, the Dexters are a grass-fed herd, but a grain-trained one. Training your cattle with a little grain isn't going to hurt them, still allows them to be qualified as grass-fed, but gives the breeder a little edge on control. Diane would like to see a Dexter breed as a whole go more from that backyard pet status to one with more of a commercial breed's credentials. Dexters are both dairy and a beef breed, and should be developed in a market as such. As a beef breed, especially if they are grass-fed, the meat has a superb taste and quality. She warns people not to ever take grass-fed Dexter meat to a pot luck dinner unless they are prepared to become suppliers!

Diane and Daryl welcome a conversation about Dexters and invite you to stop by for a visit at their beautiful and peaceful Nature's Paradise Farm.


Lazy L's Little One
"Miss Dex"
ADCA #4770
Twin Creeks Annie Rose
ADCA #6248
Twin Creeks Puff
ADCA #9899


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American Dexter Cattle Association

1325 W Sunshine #519
Springfield, MO 65807



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