More and more commercial beef producers are turning to the South Devon breed, because of their docility and ability to convert grass to meat, removing the need to feed cattle on more and more expensive cereals. The aim of the herd has been to build on the excellent natural qualities of the South Devon (notably fast growth, large mature size, maternal traits with plenty of milk, docility, ability to convert grass and good beef confirmation with marbling) to produce superior beef animals. To this end the performance of our animals are recorded and used for selection in the breeding programme. We record with ABRI Breedplan, and use the data as one of our selection tools. Why record? How will you know when you have succeeded in your goals? You cannot improve anything unless you measure it. Genetic improvement is the most economical way of improving the profitability of livestock - genetically inferior animals cost just as much to keep as superior ones. We are aiming for consistency without extremes, and our main interest is efficient, functional animals, and selecting for strong maternal traits. These are easy birth, milk and mothering, fertility and long life. A live calf every year from every cow in the herd is the number one priority, and this must be achieved in a tight spring calving season. The target for the immediate future is to breed stock, which are sound in conformation, movement, udder and temperament and also in the top 25% of the breed for Quality Beef and Suckler Replacement Indexes. This is why we purchased AI Kestle King Leo at the South Devon Show and Sale at Exeter in March 2012. AI Kestle King Leo won the Thornton Cup for performance and inspection and is in the top 5% of the breed for Quality Beef and Suckler Replacement Indexes. He was bred by Mr R K Rundle at Newquay, who is producing some exceptional cattle. Lastly and not by all means least, animal welfare is a priority, we are a member of Herdsure Cattle Health Improvement Service which provides detailed information on diseases, protocols, biosecurity and management of animals, designed to control and remove disease. The herd is grass fed and over wintered indoors, mainly on silage, which we believe leads to a long and healthy life for our cattle. After all a healthy animal is a happy animal. Colour & Coat: Strong, curly coat of light medium red colour. Any white under-body undesirable particularly in front of the navel. Hide loose and pliable. Head: Broad and kindly in appearance, with broad and uniformly pink nose and muzzle, free from blue (blotches) and smut (black hairs around lips). Horns, if present, should be white or yellow and curve downwards. Ears set well forward and of a good size. Shoulders: Not prominent, blending neatly with a deep body. Body: Deep and full in girth. Ribs well sprung, even and extending well back along the spine. Deep in the flank giving a level underline and not an extended gut. Back straight with good width extending from behind the shoulders to the loin. Hindquarters: Rumps long, wide and square on top. The rounds wide and deep to hocks. The tail should be level set and blend neatly into the rumps. It should be strong with a good brush. Temperament: Docile. Bull: Masculine characteristics with size and flesh to attain 1,200 to 1,500 kgs at maturity. Testicles of substantial and even size and suspended equally and not twisted. Cow: Feminine appearance with good size and even flesh. Even shaped, well-attached udder with well- spaced, equal and moderately sized teats. Legs & Feet: Legs showing strong bone, flat rather than round below the hock. The hind legs reasonably straight and parallel with hocks well apart; the fore legs not wide apart and all having good sound feet, pointing directly forwards. Even locomotion with parallel tracking.
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