Rotokawa 12

The Red Devon Cattle were the first cattle the settlers brought to the Americas in the 17th century. Their purpose was using the Ruby Red Devons to do their work, pulling the plow, pulling logs to build their homes in the process of clearing the land.  Many had other tasks. History also records they would work the animals all day then take milk from the cows for their for their own sustenance. History also records that when the Red Rubys were too old to do the work that the meat was still very tender and tasty.  The older animals were slaughtered and the meat was consumed. History also talks about the gentle and docile nature of the animal and their willingness to please the owners.  There are still older men in the USA who train these animals for working (oxen). Unfortunately, it is all for show and pleasure today.

In the Northeast part of the USA there are a few herds still intact and producing. A few milking Devons are being milked, however most are for beef. The gene pools have dwindled to the point that only a small number of bulls and females are still being bred. The breed will not survive unless a concerted breeding program is put in place.

The New England Livestock Alliance (NELA), a group of cattleman having recognised the importance of this great breed and its ability to finish on grass, the reproductive capabilities, docility, and the qualities and tastiness (palatability) of the meat.  They have decided to promote the re-establishment of Devons in the USA.

After extensive research was done to locate the top genetics of the Devons in the world, it was concluded that Ken McDowall of the Rotokawa Estates Ltd. Stud in New Zealand had the best genetic lines for our purpose of development of Devons in the USA.

Ken was contacted by Gearld Fry of the NELA group. In March 2002 Fry made a trip to Rotokawa Estates to view the cattle and see the breeding tactics Ken has employed. After 6 days of viewing and studying the cattle and measuring the bulls, the decision was made to purchase a considerable quantity of straws from Rotokawa 667 and Rotokawa 688.  The straws of semen were exported to the USA for use in the stud herds there and for breeding commercial cows for meat purposes.  Rotokawa also has two other bloodlines of bulls that will come to the USA for the rebuilding process next year.

The reason the Rotokawa cattle were chosen is that they are based on the 23 years of concentrated breeding program, the total purity of the herd which has been maintained with integrity, complete grass based genetics, and Ken’s respect and admiration for the breed over that period of time.

Mr. Fry returned to the USA after having observed the ability of the herd to perform on grass and the functionality and quality of the cattle. A complete overview of the findings was presented to the NELA group and after considerable discussion, the decision was made to send Mr. Fry back to purchase a number of Rotokawa females for export to the USA – using Rotokawa genetics for re-establishing the herd there. Mr. Fry chose 13 females of the 4 genetic bloodlines for export to the USA.  The females will be transported to the USA pregnant so they will have time to adapt to the change of environment before calving. Embryos will be flushed from the cows as soon as practicable after calving to build the numbers of quality stock and to establish the base herd. The integrity displayed by Ken McDowall in the Rotokawa cattle will be maintained in the development of the NELA herd.
The females are of a moderate size, being 1150 lb to 1250-lbs weight, very thick in the rump area and with shoulders and depth of chest to match the rump. With the great feminine characteristics of the females, matched with the masculine male characteristics evident in the Rotokawa cattle, the scene is set to re-establish the herd in America.