La Feria News

American Milking Devon Cattle

Grace Heritage RanchThe animal that first comes to mind when people think of homesteading is the family milk cow. Here at Grace Heritage Ranch we raise the American Milking Devon, a tri-purpose breed used for milk, meat, and as a draft animal (think pulling a plow). They produce about 4 gallons of milk per day and are prized for the quality of their milk. Their high butterfat milk (4%) is used for making rich butter and cheese, but is best known for making Devonshire cream.

They are docile, smart, and adaptable to thrive in harsh climates on poor forage. They are medium sized cattle, with bulls weighing an average of 1,600 pounds and cows weighing about 1,100 pounds.

Devon cattle immigrated to the Americas with the Pilgrims in 1623. Their hardiness and versatility made them an obvious choice for facing the challenges of the New World. The breed became well established in New England during the 1600s then spread down the coast during the 1700s and 1800s, and finally west as popular draft animals on the Oregon Trail.

However, Devon cattle were losing ground to the larger Shorthorn. By 1900, Devon cattle were rarely seen outside New England where the breed remained popular for their superior ability to thrive under rugged conditions.

In the 1950s, multi-purpose cattle were disappearing in favor of high production dairy or meat breeds. Even owners of the Devon were divided between keeping the breed for multi- purpose use and breeding them for production of large amounts of beef. A split in the association resulted in both. The American Milking Devon still retains the qualities of the original breed.

By the 1970s there were fewer than 100 American Milking Devon left. Today about 600 registered purebreds remain, with all of them here in the United States and still listed as critically endangered by the Livestock Conservancy.

To learn even more about homesteading, join us at Grace Heritage Ranch for our Saturday morning tours. We are located just 30 minutes northeast of Harlingen, TX near Santa Monica. Please visit us at or For a recorded message, please call 1-855-447-8687. We offer both public and private tours.

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