SOUTH DEVON CATTLE BREEDING GROUP

 

The South Devon Breed

 
 









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Origins:

While the presence of cattle in south-west England can be traced for some 7000 years, the South Devon is thought to have existed in these parts for about 400 years. It is believed to have evolved from the large red cattle of Normandy which were imported to England at the time of the Norman invasion.

Historical evidence indicates that isolation caused the divergence of the North and South Devon into physically distinct types, though occasional crossing between the two breeds occurred until the mid-19th century. Over 100 years of selection for performance have given the South Devon its outstanding qualities of beef and maternal characteristics.

Characteristics:

The South Devon is the largest of the British native breeds, being large-framed, more muscular in conformation, later maturing in terms of fat deposition, but early maturing in terms of puberty.

Its colour is a rich, medium red with copper tints, though it varies in shade and can even appear slightly mottled. The skin is exceptionally thick, loose and mellow. The breed is mostly horned although naturally polled individuals do exist and polling is now being actively pursued. The South Devon temperament is excellent, giving rise to the nickname "gentle giants".

South Devons yield leaner carcases than do other British breeds. In research in the USA and Australia the South Devon has proved to be amongst the foremost breeds for intramuscular fat ('marbling') - a highly desirable trait for taste and tenderness - as opposed to subcutaneous fat. Although most herds were milked during and soon after the Second World War, since the 1960s the trend has been increasingly towards beefier sires. Although it is now a purely beef breed, the dual-purpose heritage has significance for the suckling of calves.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE SOUTH DEVON BREED VISIT THE SOUTH DEVON HERD BOOK SOCIETY