The North Devons





This beautiful race of middle horned cattle dates further back than any

well established breed among us. It goes generally under the simple name

of Devon; but the cattle of the southern part of the country, from which

the race derives its name, differ somewhat from those of the northern,

having a larger and coarser frame, and far less tendency to fatten

though their dairy qualities are superior.



The North Devons are remarkable for hardihood, symmetry and beauty, and

are generally bred for work and for beef, rather than for the dairy. The

head is fine and well set on; the horns of medium length, generally

curved; color usually bright blood-red, but sometimes inclining to

yellow; skin thin and orange-yellow; hair of medium length, soft and

silky, making the animals remarkable as handlers; muzzle of the nose

white; eyes full and mild; ears yellowish, or orange-color inside, of

moderate size; neck rather long, with little dewlap; shoulders oblique;

legs small and straight, with feet in proportion; chest of good width;

ribs round and expanded; loins of first-rate quality, long, wide, and

fleshy; hips round, of medium width; rump level; tail full near the

setting on, tapering to the tip; thighs of the bull and ox muscular and

full, and high in the flank, though in the cow sometimes thought to be

light; the size medium, generally called small. The proportion of meat

on the valuable parts is greater, and the offal less, than on most other

breeds, while it is well settled that they consume less food in its

production. The Devons are popular with the Smithfield butchers, and

their beef is well marbled or grained.



As working oxen, the Devons perhaps excel all other races in quickness,

docility, beauty, and the ease with which they are matched. With a

reasonable load, they are said to be equal to horses as walkers on the

road, and when they are no longer wanted for work they fatten easily and

turn well.



As milkers, they do not excel--perhaps they may be said not to

equal--the other breeds, and they have a reputation of being decidedly

below the average. In their native country the general average of the

dairy is one pound of butter a day during the summer. They are bred for

beef and for work, and not for the dairy; and their yield of milk is

small, though of a rich quality. Several animals, however, of the

celebrated Patterson herd would have been remarkable as milkers even

among good milking stock.



Still, the faults of the North Devon cow, considered as a dairy animal,

are too marked to be overlooked. The rotundity of form and compactness

of frame, though they contribute to her remarkable beauty constitute an

objection to her for this purpose: since it is generally admitted that

the peculiarity of form which disposes an animal to take on fat is

somewhat incompatible with good milking qualities. On this account,

Youatt--who is standard authority in such matters--says that for the

dairy the North Devon must be acknowledged to be inferior to several

other breeds. The milk is good, and yields more than the average

proportion of cream and butter; but it is deficient in quantity. He also

maintains that its property as a milker could not be improved without

producing a certain detriment to its grazing qualities. Distinguished

Devon breeders themselves have come to the same conclusion upon this

point. The improved North Devon cow may be classed, in this respect,

with the Hereford, neither of which has well developed milk-vessels--a

point of the utmost consequence to the practical dairyman.





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