Great Grassfed Heritage Cattle Breeds
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The Pineywoods’ unique characteristics make them a nice fit for those seeking to raise cattle on rough or wooded pasture. They forage on the rough, native vegetation of the South — conditions under which most cattle would not survive. The Pineywoods have earned the nickname “Woods” cattle because they graze normally, but also browse on brush, twigs and tree leaves in the pine forests. This adaptation allows the Pineywoods to make good use of marginal forage, and they need little from the farmer in the way of supplemental feed.
Pineywoods are small and rugged, with cows weighing 600 to 800 pounds and bulls averaging 800 to 1,200 pounds. Most Pineywoods cattle are horned, though horn lengths and shapes vary. The Pineywoods breed includes almost all of the solid colors and many of the spotting patterns known to cattle. If you’re looking for a good all-purpose breed that can handle rough forage and is heat-tolerant and disease-resistant, Pineywoods cattle might be just what you need.
Devon or Beef Devon
Often described as the “grass-farmer’s cow,” the Devon or Beef Devon is a practical and economical choice for grassfed beef or milk. In 1623, the Pilgrims brought British Devon cattle to New England. The hardiness of the breed combined with its availability near British ports made Devons an obvious choice for the colonists’ voyage. The breed became well established in colonial America, but, by the early 1800s, it began losing popularity, and, by the early 1900s, the breed was rarely found outside of New England. In the 1950s, in order to meet increasing market demands for beef cattle, the remaining Devon breeders split into two groups: those selecting for traditional characteristics and those selecting for beef characteristics. Today, there are two types of Devon cattle, the Milking Devon and the Beef Devon. The Milking Devon is the original triple-purpose animal.
The modern-day Beef Devon is making a comeback as ranchers and farmers rediscover the breed’s hardiness, grazing abilities and high feed-conversion ratios. The Beef Devon produces superb beef from grass; the high-quality, well-marbled meat has a fine texture and good flavor. The breed also is heat-
tolerant, allowing it to adapt and perform well in a variety of environments. The Devon’s mothering abilities, docility and high fertility rates are added benefits for the grass-based producer. Devon cattle are ruby-red and can be horned or polled. They are medium-sized with cows averaging 1,100 pounds and bulls averaging 1,600 to 2,000 pounds. As the market for grassfed beef continues to grow, the Beef Devon’s productivity and top-notch grazing abilities will help re-establish the breed’s role in grass-based production systems.
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