Feed conversion efficiency and temperament winning attributes for South Devons

August 11, 2014

The ability of South Devon cattle to efficiently convert feed into beef has won the breed strong following. Rick and Sue McDouall, of Kildare South Devons, Upper Horton, were first attracted to the breed by the yield, carcase quality and temperament of the cattle.

Kildare South Devon

The breed originated in the 16th century, from South West England, and the McDoualls founded Kildare South Devons in 1986 with the purchase of nine cows and one bull.

According to leading US beef producer, Lee L Leachman, of Leachman Cattle of Colorado, the South Devon breed has emerged as the dominant British breed alternative to Angus. With a history of breeding both Angus and South Devons, Mr. Leachman attributes much of this to South Devons’ unique combination of heavy muscling with marbling levels comparable to Angus.

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“Substantial evidence now suggests that the breed excels on feed efficiency,” Mr. Leachman wrote. “Beyond hybrid vigour, the biggest opportunity for improving profitability is by reducing the feed required to produce a pound of beef.

“This starts with the cow and how much she eats. Then, the feed conversion on the steers is important.” Mr. Leachman says the South Devon breed has shown itself to be lower on feed intake and more efficient on gain than the Angus breed.

Rick and Sue McDouall find their South Devon cattle are very good calvers, and display a quiet, even temperament.

“Commercially, our cattle perform well, to Woolworths off grass, and in feedlots,” Rick said. The McDoualls use genetics from all over Australia, the United Kingdom and North America. These include black, North American genetics including a BC Progress black bull.

Some of the Kildare bulls are direct descendants of the Leachman bull, LCC Montana Century. They plan to use more American and Australian genetics to improve the accuracy of their already impressive EBV figures.

Early this year, Kildare took part in the Sydney Royal 2014 Beef Challenge. Many prestigious cattle were amongst the 51 teams taking part.

This trial of about 90 days was held over a very hot and dry summer but it was the teams of South Devon heifers which showed the best marbling of any.

The Kildare entry, Number 168 was the only beast out of 300 with two marble score and was awarded a Bronze Ribbon for Taste Test. Only 10 scored perfect points for carcase – Kildare entries had two of these gaining the 60 points.

One black heifer first place and only entry with an MSA Grade One. Profitability was amongst the best too!

Sale bulls are selected from over 200 Red cows and 100 Black, all with good feet, sound and quiet.

The Kildare South Devons annual on-property sale will be held at “Kildare”, Upper Horton, on Friday, August 22, beginning at 1.00 pm. On offer will be 32 two year old bulls, 22 red and 10 black. The bulls will be sold using the Helmsman selling system.

All bulls will have full scan information, growth figures and sale weights, and appropriate vaccinations. For clients flying in, an airstrip is available on the property.