The South Devon cattle breed, not to be confused with the North Devon cattle breed, originated 400 years ago in Southwest England.

This is an excellent cattle breed that is commonly used for meat and milk production. If you know your cattle, you might know quite a bit about this breed. However, if you’re trying to decide if this is the right cattle for your farm, then we’ve got some facts and other information for you in the article below.

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Quick Facts about South Devon Cattle Breed

Breed Name:South Devon
Place of Origin:England
Uses:Milk and beef production
Bull (Male) Size:1200kg to 1600kg (2,600lbs–3,500lbs)
Cow (Female) Size:600kg to 800kg (1,300lbs–1,700lbs)
Color:Rich medium red coloring with tints of copper
Lifespan:15–25 years
Climate Tolerance:Hardy
Care Level:Easy
Production:Milk and beef

South Devon Cattle Breed Origins

The South Devon cattle breed has its roots set in Southwest England and has been around for over 400 years now.

It wasn’t until 1800 that the breed was established, however. In the 20th century, the South Devon cattle breed was used for a triple purpose. The cattle supplied milk, beef, and butterfat. Today, the breed is known for beef and milk production and can be found all over the world, but mostly in England. The first South Devon cow appeared in the United States in 1969.

south devon cattle
Image Credit: Dave-Atkins, Shutterstock

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South Devon Cattle Breed Characteristics

This breed is said to be the largest of the English breeds of cattle. It has a large frame, is muscular in build, and matures early. Bulls mature earlier than cows, but they are all generally early to mature.

Their colors are rich, medium tones, and can feature light tints of copper. However, some South Devon cattle can appear to have different shades and a slightly mottled appearance.

You can purchase this breed in horned or polled varieties. The bulls top out at around 1,600 kg, with the females weighing up to 800 kg at maturity.

The South Devon breed has an even temperament and is quite docile. This temperament makes it easy to take care of these cows if you choose to keep them. The breed also has an excellent grass conversion ability and is hardy, which is extremely important for cattle.


South Devon cattle are a dual-purpose breed and are used for both milk and beef production. However, they are being raised more for beef production than anything else in recent times.

If you’re searching for cows to raise for meat production, then this is a great idea. They can be used for milk for small-scale farming as well.

south devon cattle
Image Credit: Eric Buermeyer, Shutterstock

Appearance & Varieties

As previously stated, the South Devon cattle breed is a strong, hardy breed that seems to live a good long life. They can have mottled colors but often are a rich medium red, with a tinge of copper tinting.

The males are larger than the females at maturity, and both are quite docile and easy to care for. Since around 1974, this breed has been used most often for meat production rather than milk production.


This breed is mostly found in England but also in Australia and the rest of the world, in small but steadily growing numbers. The breed is able to live in varying climates and has a steadily increasing population. Of course, you can get the breed brought to the United States if you are in the market for South Devon cattle.

south devon cattle
Image Credit: meunierd, Shutterstock

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Are South Devon Cattle Breed Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Yes, the South Devon cattle breed is docile, easy to care for, and excellent foragers. This makes them perfect for a small-scale farmer. If you’re looking for a cattle breed that can be used for milk and beef production, then this could very well be the right breed for you.

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Featured Image Credit: Eric Buermeyer, Shutterstock