Devon Cattle

The Devon cattle are an ancient breed of cattle from the south western English county of Devon. Native home of the breed is in the southwest England, primarily in the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset.

In this area, herds of red cattle grazed the grass covered hills of this cool, moist region for centuries. The Devon breed is sometimes called as North Devon to avoid confusion with the more recently developed South Devon cattle.

It is one of the several modern breeds derived from the traditional red cattle of southern England, together with the Sussex, Red Poll, Hereford and Lincold Red.

The Devon was classified as a dual-purpose breed previously. And they were valued for the production of both high quality beef and the rich milk used in Devonshire cream. But through selection over the past half century, it has evolved as a beef-type breed and currently raised mainly as a beef cattle breed.

The beef-type is registered and promoted by the Devon Cattle Association, Inc. And the milking Devon strain is unique to America and has been maintained and is represented by the American Milking Devon Cattle Association.

However, the Devon had been gradually replaced by the Shorthorn cattle by the late 1800s. And they were rarely seen outside of New England by 1900.

The market for the multipurpose cattle had disappeared by the 1950s and the Devon breed neared extinction. But when the Devon breed evolved as a beef breed mainly for meat production, their popularity increased gradually.

Currently the breed is available in many countries throughout the world. Read more information about the breed below.

Table of Contents

Devon Cattle Characteristics

The Devon cattle are medium to large animals. They are mainly red in color and varying in shade from a rich deep red to a light red or chestnut color.

A bright ruby red is the most preferred color. They have medium thick hair and the hair is often long and curly during the winter, but short and sleek in summer.

Color of the switch of the tail is creamy white. They have creamy white horns and square set legs. And the cows usually have well-formed udders.

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Average live body weight of the mature cows vary from 430 to 590 kg. And the mature bulls on average weight between 770 and 1000 kg. Photo and info from Wikipedia.


Devon cattle were a dual-purpose breed previously which were raised for both milk and meat production. But currently they are a beef cattle breed and raised primarily for meat production.

Special Notes

The Devon cattle are very strong and hardy animals. They are noted for their good fertility, quality beef, easy calving and excellent disease and parasite resistance.

They are very docile in nature, have good temperament and are very easily managed. They are well-adapted to native climates and can do well in mild but damp English climate.

They can also adapt and do very well in extreme heat. They are excellent foragers and can forage through tough terrains and can also nourish themselves in low quality pastures.

The breed is well known for it’s high quality meat. It is distantly related to other British and European cattle breeds found in North America, so it provides great hybrid vigor when used in commercial crossbreeding.

Currently the breed is available and raised in many countries throughout the world. And they are raised primarily for meat production. However, review full breed profile of the Devon cattle in the following chart.

Breed NameDevon
Other NameNorth Devon, Ruby Red
Breed PurposeMainly meat
Special NotesGood milk quality, well adapted to native climates, good for meat, very hardy, good behavior, docile, calm temperament, good for low quality pasture, easy calving, good diseases and parasite resistance
Breed SizeMedium to large
BullsAround 770-1000 kg
CowsAround 430-590 kg
Climate ToleranceNative climates
Coat ColorMainly red and varying in shade from a rich deep red to a light red or chestnut color
Milk YieldGood
Country/Place of OriginEngland

2 thoughts on “Devon Cattle”

  1. Best beef in the world. Channel Island quality milk too. Hardy, docile, they outwinter on rough hill grass quite happily too. I milked a small here of them about 40 years ago in Cornwall, they were superb.

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