Red Devon – Gourmet Beef on Grass

Red Devon Beef from Abiding Acres Farm in Delavan Wisconsin

Characteristics

Red Devons are famous for producing gourmet quality beef on grass. They are noted for their docility, being easy to handle and generally quiet animals. The average Devon cow is of moderate size, weighing between 1000 and 1500 lbs. Red Devons are also hardy; they have the thickest hide of any breed and do well in our Wisconsin winters. However they are very adaptable as well, Devons are raised all over the United States with the highest concentration on the East coast. The Red Devons efficiently convert grass to high quality tasty beef.

History

The Red Devon breed of cattle came from the cool wet climate of Devon, England. In 1623, the ship Charity brought the first pure breed of cattle to America; 3 red Devon heifers and 1 bull. The original Devons were triple purpose- being used for beef, milk and oxen. Devon steers were highly prized as oxen. George Washington kept a herd of Devons at Mount Vernon. In the early 20th century, many Red Devon breeders decided that in order for the breed to survive it had to specialize in beef production. The American Milking Devon association still maintains a herd book for the old style triple purpose Devons. The current herd book for Red Devons is maintained by Red Devon USA.

With cheap grain and fertilizer following WWII, Red Devons fell out of favor with beef producers because of their efficiency. When fed grain Devons would get fat too quickly; feedlot producers wanted tall animals that ate a lot of grain and grew huge before they got fat. So, for the rest of the 20th century the great Red Devon was largely forgotten. Genetics do matter when producing high quality grass fed beef. In the last few decades with the return to natural food, consumers are recognizing the health benefits of grass fed beef. Red Devons produce superb grass fed beef.

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