American Milking Devon Cattle

American Milking Devon cattle are a rare breed, or heritage breed of cattle. Historically, the first Devons came to North America in 1623, on the ship, Charity, not long after the May Flower brought the pilgrims. These cattle were very versatile and served a critical role in establishing the new settlements. They were useful as a dairy animal, but also as a beef animal that could thrive on lower quality forages and capable as draft animals in the yoke. This is why they are referred to as a “triple purpose” breed.

As modern agriculture developed at a rapid rate, animals were selected for single production traits. Cows that were more adept at producing large amounts of milk, were selected to produce even more, and now the modern dairy breeds were born. Similar phenomena occurred with beef cattle, as they were selected for rapid growth and meat production. Multi-purpose breeds like the Devon were gradually replaced by the more single production trait animals.

In the 1970s, during the time of the American Bi-centennial, a search began to find animals connected with America’s past. At that time, less than 200 American Milking Devons could be identified in the world. The breed was endanger of going extinct. Fortunately, there were some individuals with the foresight to save these genetically diverse, historically important cattle. Out of their efforts, organizations such as the Livestock Conservancy began to save all sorts of rare breed animals. Today there are approximately 1500 American Milking Devons in the United States, their numbers are growing, but they remain in critical standing.