Do you know the difference between the North Devon breed and its cousins, South Devon and American Milking Devon? Check out the facts, and read up all about the 'Red Ruby' here!
- North Devon cattle originate from the ancient Devon breed from south-western England. Of course, Devon County is the specific birthplace of these cattle!
- Their coats are usually red, but are sometimes tawny. In fact, their deep red colouring has given them the nicknames Red Ruby and Devon Ruby! Their relatively thick coat is usually long and curly in the winter, but in the summer it becomes sleek and shorter!
- South Devon and American Milking Devon are their closest relatives. South Devon cattle are usually yellow in colour, while Milking Devon are a ruddy shade quite similar to the North Devon. The American Milking Devon has all the same qualities as the North Devon, although dairy production is its main purpose.
- North Devon cattle were historically a dual-purpose breed, but are now used primarily as beef-producers.
- Devon cattle originated from the ancient red bovines of England; the same ancestor as Hereford, Lincoln Red, Red Poll and Sussex cattle!
- First records of the breed date back to about 1850, when the Devon Herdbook was created by Colonel John Tanner Davy.
- In Australia, the breed has been used extensively as draught livestock.
- Some strains of North Devon cattle are polled, and some are horned! It’s important to consider this carefully, as some farmers dislike the idea of horned livestock being kept in close proximity to other animals.
- Bulls can weigh about 1 tonne, while cows usually reach about 590kg.
- They’re a fertile breed, and no naturally-occurring calving issues have been recorded. However, please note that larger sires bred with North Devon dams can cause serious complications during the birthing process!
- Calves weigh about 30-40kg at birth, with males naturally weighing about 1kg more on average compared to females.
- North Devon cattle are very docile, and their temperament allows them to be easily handled. However, it’s important to always be cautious around all bulls, regardless of breed! Check out our article on Bull Safety to remind yourself of the necessary precautions.
- North Devon cattle, although bred in the mild but damp English climate, they can adapt and thrive in extreme heat! Bull fertility remains high even in hot temperatures. They can also forage through tough terrains, nourishing themselves even in low-quality pastures.
- They have excellent disease and parasite resistance, particularly because of their thick skin. Most experts claim that North Devon hide is in fact the thickest of all cattle breeds!
- Although they mature at a slower rate, their beef is often considered to be of a higher quality than that of quicker maturing breeds! They’re well-muscled, have great daily weight gain, and the finished product has good tenderness and flavour.
For a more general overview of how to choose a breed that suits your farm, you can also read our article on Beef Cattle: Choosing the Right Breed for You.
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