- The Breed
- Profitable Suckler Cow
Profitable Suckler Cow
Choosing the breed of cow which will form the basis of your beef suckler herd is probably one of the most important decisions you will ever make. The old saying that a bull is "half your herd" is very true and whilst selection of bulls has a very significant bearing on the performance of future generations within your herd, it is the suckler cow that will determine your herd's profitability.
Whatever your farming system, the Red Ruby Devon cow should be high on your list of possible breed choices for the following reasons:
Size and temperament
Females are a true, medium sized cow making them economic to keep in breeding condition, light on your ground, and an optimum sized butcher's carcass. Their size and temperarment makes them one of the very best options for conservation grazing especially where terrain is difficult and where public access is a significant consideration. The cow is docile and good natured both outside and housed. This trait will be passed on to her calf whether pure or cross-bred. Many commercial farmers, who have first come to the breed through using a Devon bull on continental suckler cows, have found the docility of the Devon to be such a positive influence on profitability that they retain their Devon cross heifers as replacements.
Fertility & Milk
Females and bulls are well known for their fertility. It is expected to have Devon herds 100% in-calf year-on-year. Devons are good milkers. The modern day Devon is milky with good udders and small neat teats. Their calves are usually up and on their feet latching on unassisted within hours of birth. Whilst many breeds of cow offer fertility and milk, the real strength of the Devon cow is found when farming systems are put under stress. With extreme weather events on the increase, farming is being subjected to abnormal events with ever greater frequency. Whether in drought or incessant wet, cold weather, the Devon cow will stay in milk, and resolutely undaunted by whatever is thrown at her and will do so on no more than grass and haylage. At times when your profits are under stress most, you can rely on your Devon cows to hold up and help you through.
Females are famed for their longevity which is a significant factor on profitability. A Devon cow will typically work well in to her teens maintaining good udders, milk and fertility. A Devon cow, first calving in her 3rd year, will typically produce 13-17 calves in her lifetime.
Superior Carcass Traits
Females will pass on to their progeny, whether pure or cross-bred, the typical breed traits for which Red Ruby Devon beef is famous; finely grained beef which ensures tenderness and succulence. And ntra-muscular fat - so called "marbling" - which gives the beef great flavour and enhances the cooking process, and finally the outer layer of fat which enables the carcass to be hung for sufficient time (typically 2-5 weeks) to ensure tenderisation. All these facts are widely recognised within the food retail and catering industries and for this reason, value-added markets are accessible to anyone selling pure or cross-bred Red Ruby Devon beef.