Are you a farmer considering Red Devon for your grass fed, grass finished cattle operation? At Cove Creek Farm, we chose the Red Devon breed after doing a lot of research. We put this page together to consolidate some of the information we gathered and to help other farmers who are considered what the best breed of cattle is for doing grass fed beef.
Also Check Out: 30 Interesting Facts about Red Devon
Red Devon are widely recognized as one of the best, if not the best breed of cattle for grass fed, grass finished beef. With pure genetics that originate from before the beef industry went towards grain finishing, Red Devon cattle have a moderate frame that’s perfect for finishing out on grass.
A Brief History of the Red Devon Cattle
Red Devon are native to southwestern England, primarily in the counties of Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, and Somerset. Devon cattle is one of the oldest breeds still in existence today. Early records from the Romans in 55 B.C made mention of the herds of red cattle. The breed was introduced in to the Americas in 1623 when the Pilgrim ship Charity brought over a bull and three heifers to the Plymouth Colony
Perfect for Grass Finishing
Numerous studies have confirmed that Red Devon calves gain weight faster and more efficiently on grass than most other breeds. They therefore provide the sustainable farmer with an advantage when it comes to the bottom line.
If you are committed to raising your cattle in a natural setting and on a natural diet of 100% pasture, then Red Devon is probably your best choice.
Having talked with many farmers, some with over 50 years in the industry who have worked with dozens of breed, there is near unanimous consensus that the Red Devon is the most docile breed of cattle in existence. Their relaxed demeanor creates a safe environment for the farmer and visitor alike.
Red Devon have been the breed of choose when settling new lands because of their ability to adapt to new environments. They are being raised in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Uruguay, Kenya and more. As proof of their adaptability, they are being raised in the heat of southern Brazil all the way up to the cold of Maine.
The Thickest Hides
Red Devon are known for having the thickest hides of all common breeds. What does this mean for you? It means that Red Devon’s are one of the most parasite resistant breeds in existence. If your Red Devon gets parasites it’s because of a severe cut or some other anomaly. Their thick hide also ensures that Red Devons can tolerate a wider variety of temperatures and climates than most breeds.
Low Input, High Output
If you’re the sort of farmer who prefers to harness nature, and minimize your interventions, there isn’t a better breed than the Red Devon. Red Devon’s thrive on good pasture, in a natural farm environment. They are perhaps the fastest growing breed when properly rotated through a diverse grass pasture.
Devon calves average 2.25 ADG and bulls average 3.45.
Early Maturity & Fast Weight Gain
Red Devon are known for early maturity on grass. This means that you’ll turn around your grass fed, grass finished beef product faster and more efficiently than with other breeds. And the faster you can turn around your product, the more money that ends up in your pocket as a farmer.
Red Devons are one of the fastest weight gainers on grass. Mature red devons range in weight from about 925 lbs to 1,250 lbs.
What does Red Devon Beef Taste Like
When looking for a pleasant eating experience you want flavor, texture and tenderness. Raising cattle on pasture adds an immense amount of flavor to beef and the natural docility of the Devon breed lends to a pleasant texture and tenderness. Stress levels increase the cortisol levels in the blood and work against the agents that create tender beef. Calm animals create a more flavorful tender meat with a longer shelf life.
Devon cattle often test very high for fertility, with over 90% of yearling females conceiving. The research demonstrates that devon cattle mature more quickly then other breeds and are more fertile. Their naturally docile demeanor results in behaviors that make for great mothers. Our heifers and cows easily birth unassisted out on pasture as the calves birth weight tends to be between 60-75 lb.
Despite there recent gain in popularity, Red Devon are a less common breed and it can be hard to find a breeder in your area. The rarity of the breed also drives up the cost of getting started. This upfront cost can be a deterrent but you will benefit from the superior genetics in the long run. By raising purebred Red Devon you will also miss out on hybrid vigor that comes from crossing two purebred from different breeds. What you miss out on in hybrid vigor you gain in consistent growth rates, time to maturity, carcass yields, and conformity of butcher cuts. Red Devon are also smaller framed and don’t do as well on the commodity market.
Buying Red Devon Cattle
Looking to buy some red devon cattle? Visit this page to see availability and contact us.