I’m not sure if you’ve picked up on this yet or not, but I am a big believer that everything on the homestead should be performing more than one function. From plants, to people, to livestock if you’re only providing for one function on the farm, well then you’re just slacking. Everyone must pull their weight! This brings to mind the traditional role of cattle on the farm. A family cow is just one of those iconic images that spring immediately to mind when I think of a traditional homestead. Every farm had a cow, and for good reason. Traditionally the family cow would provide for dairy, beef, and labor on the farm. The family farm cow was expected to pull their weight! Enter the American Milking Devon. She is a true throwback to that homestead helper of old.
The American Milking Devon (or AMD for short), is a living museum piece. She has been preserved through the hard work of enthusiasts (mainly on the east coast), and remains true to type of the old tri-purpose breeds of yesteryear. The typical AMD is of a type that performs well on a grass/forage based diet. No expensive inputs required to finish for meat or provide top quality dairy products. This is the cow that made Devon Cream famous! Sadly you will not find traditional Devon cattle in their homeland on the British Isles. All of those cattle have been selected for and “improved” to produce beef…not so the Milking Devon! She is a true multitasker in every sense of the word. Here at the Traditional Catholic Homestead we are developing our burgeoning AMD herd as the cornerstone for grass based dairying. The Milking Devon is said to produce Jersey quality milk (rich creamy milk high in butterfat) on a purely grass/forage diet, just not quite so much of it. Typically the AMD will yield 2-3 gallons per day instead of the 6 gallons plus you get from breeds selected for dairy only. This seems to be a little more on scale for what a homestead could reasonably use on a daily basis, couple that with the lack of required high energy (i.e. grain) feed required for that higher dairy production and the AMD is a winner in the homestead dairy category! The beef from American Milking Devon cattle is said to marble easily on a grass based diet as well. Expect good yields of tender, high quality meat from your AMD. The animal will finish out in a reasonable time frame (typically 24 months or so). In that regard they tend to yield beef much sooner than most dairy animals and require less expensive inputs to finish than many beef breeds. Find out more about the American Milking Devon here (http://milkingdevons.org/). You’ll find our contact information on the Breeders page (we’re the only ones in Idaho and one of the few on the west coast!)
We chose this old breed with an eye towards the future. Being thrifty, hardy, and highly productive, we’re making the American Milking Devon the cornerstone of our homestead dairy and beef production. That being said we do keep a Jersey cow for dairy right now, and we have several head of Red Devon (cousin of AMD selected for beef production) cattle for beef. We keep a Milking Devon bull though, so we hope to breed a little versatility, and hardiness along with ease of keeping into the herd! Couple the American Milking Devon’s moderate size, versatility, ease of keeping, hardiness, and ability to thrive on a forage based diet and it’s easy to see why we think the AMD is going to be the perfect homestead cow!