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New Zealand: Rare
Importation: Early
Origin: England

Devon Cattle

A Rare Breed of British Origin

Devon cattle
Devon cattle (Photo courtesy New Zealand Devon Cattle Association)

      Devon cattle (also known as Red Devons) are native to the south-west region of England and are considered to be one of the oldest recognized breeds. Originally they were used largely as draught animals (though also for meat and milk production) but nowadays they are used solely as beef producers.

      Devons were brought into New Zealand in the first half of the nineteenth century, both for use in haulage teams and to provide meat and milk. Descendents of the early imports can be traced through the pedigrees of existing animals.

Devon cow
Devon cow   (New Zealand Devon Cattle Assn photo)

      Since the early days there have been a number of further importations from both Australia and the United Kingdom, and more recently semen has been brought in to supplement the New Zealand lines. They have never been particularly numerous in New Zealand though there have been more of them in Northland than elsewhere.

      The modern Devon is described as a medium sized beef animal (slightly larger than the early animals), with cows weighing approximately 650 kilograms, bulls up to 1000 kilograms. They have a deep red coat (hence their alternative name, Red Devons). Although originally a horned breed, polling has been introduced over the years, and now half the registrations are now of the polled variety. The Devon's characteristics of hardiness, docile temperament and excellent foraging ability make them ideal for small holdings.

      In 2005 there were 523 pure Red Devon cows registered in New Zealand. The Herd Book has been closed to grading up since 1990.

Thanks to the » New Zealand Red Devon Cattle Breeders Association for photographs and information.

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