Beef

All our beef at Tierra Verde Farms is 100% grass-fed. 100% natural with no hormones or antibiotics. If you are wondering about grass-fed beef please visit The Grass-Fed Difference part of this website to see WHY we only produce grass-fed beef. If you want to produce the best grass-fed to finish beef you need to produce Red Devon Cattle.
Why Devons? What is so special about Red Devons? There is a lot special about Devons, to start with they are a very docile breed. When you want a low stress farm for animals and farmers alike you need everyone to be docile. They are very easy to handle and move, which is very important when you do daily roational grazing moves. Second, they do great on grass. We can get a Devon to marble on grass as well or better than Angus do on grain or in a feed lot. It takes us a little longer but the result is well worth it. The genetics behind our Devon herd going back dozens of generations have never had grain so they have been selected for performance on grass alone. Third is that they are very hardy in our elements here in Ohio. They winter very well in the cold and can take our humidity in the summer. Next is they are very easily calve. Which is really important to me. Making spring a joyous not a stressful time.

You Tube Video Introduction to Red Devons

The Early History of Red Devons

The origin of the Devon is pre-historic. It is assumed that the breed is descended from Bos longifrons, the smaller type of aboriginal cattle in Brtain. The earliest English records show the prevalence of cattle in the area of Devon of a color and type indicative of the modern breed.
Francis Quartly of Champson-in-Molland is the man generally credited with establishing the Devon in modern times, if the late 1700s can be considered "modern times". Quartly made a determined campaign to find and purchase the choicest Devon possible, developing the best herd of his time. From his herd, which was sold on his retirement in 1836, descended the most distinguished Devon blood.
Captain John Davy, whose father and grandfather had been noted Devon breeders, was the most distinguished promoter of Devon in the late 1800s. He was the founder of the Devon herdbook and contributed much to Devon literature.
In America, the Devon which landed with the Pilgrims quickly spread along the coast of Massachusetts in the 17th century. No one really thought of them as a "breed" they were just part of the scene, a member of the family. As Kristina Bielenberg of the American Minor Breeds Conservancy wrote:
The "red natives", with their upright and spreading horns, attracted the most attention for they provided the primary objects of the New England farmer - labor, beef and rich milk for butter and cheese.
The red native was considered to be a good milker from the standpoint that it produced more butter per pound of milk than most any other breed available. The Devon-type cattle were efficient feeders. Their fine muzzle, prominent and clear eye, long neck and delicate forelegs attracted the fancy of many farmers. The agility and intelligence of the ox was highly valued.
These characteristics and others contributed to the long popularity of the red native; for as late as 1861, the Commissioner of Patents reported that in New England the farmers still preferred their cattle of Devonshire extraction despite the availability of newer, "more improved" English breeds. By then there was a Devon Herd Book in America, too, founded in 1855 by Horace M. Sessions of Massachusetts. His first volume included a reprint of Volume 1 and 2 of the English herd book. Jeremy Engh, a former president of the American Devon Cattle Association noted in a speech in 2004, herd books were generally the predecessor to breed societies which served to protect the genetic integrity of its cattle and promote its interests.
James Buckingham, of Zanesville, Ohio, was joined by several other Devon breeders in organizing the American Devon Cattle Club in 1884 at Pittsburgh's East End Hotel. The Club published six volumes with final edition coming in 1947 It was then that a decline in fortunes overtook the Devon breed, a gradual decline that endured for a half-century.
A number of factors can be blamed for the decline but the most important was probably the huge grain surpluses facing America's farmers after World War II. It became government policy to encourage the feeding of grain to cattle to "eat up" those surpluses. Here Devon became a victim of its very strength. Devon simply fattened too quickly to be of much use in the feedlot. The numbers of Devon dwindled; the American Devon Cattle Club waned and was replaced by the Devon Cattle Association which in turn was morphed into the American Devon Cattle Association.
But with the arrival of the new 21 st century, the Devon's fortunes suddenly changed! There was sudden recognition that the cattle industry had worked itself into a corner. More popular breeds had grown bigger, herds had grown bigger, genetics had been mongrelized, and family farms had been eliminated by the thousands and the supposedly efficient industrial model had resulted in unhealthy animals and poor quality meat.
The demand suddenly was for more natural products in all food supplies including beef. Mad Cow disease, E.coli and other health concerns spurred the interest in grass fed cattle. It was a time made for Devon, but by then the breed was in such short supply there was no one to answer the call.
As a Devon breeder from Texas put it in 1973: "The Devon is the best kept secret in America and the breeders made it that way." As Engh admitted in his speech: "The breed received little promotion and remained largely in the hands of small breeders and farmers. They had a ready market for whatever stock they had for sale and devoted little time and few dollars to telling the Devon story to American cattlemen. The Devon Cattle Association lost its sense of direction and stopped progress."
The picture remained essentially unchanged until a veteran Arkansas cattleman, Gearld Fry, a visionary in the mold of Robert Bakewell and Jan Bonsma, recognized the potential of Devon and began a search to find the genetics to rebuild the breed. In 2002 he discovered the Rotokawa herd of Ken MacDowall in New Zealand and began importing cows and semen. It was Fry's missionary zeal that launched the resurgence of Devon in America.
Fry's speeches and articles in grass fed and natural beef circles quickly created a huge demand for Devon and a demand for a new breed association that would professionally and aggressively represent them. Meeting in Dallas in 2006, a group of men, breeders from across the country, left the American Devon Cattle Association and chartered the North American Devon Cattle Association (NADA), persuading Fry to be their president.
NADA quickly became the largest Devon association in the country and in its first national convention held a sale that established record prices for Devon cattle. Clearly Devon, "Ruby Reds" or "Native Reds", were back!

Red Devons Today

There is widespread recognition among consumers today that there is something terribly wrong with our food supply. BSE or Mad Cow disease, E. coli, obesity, cancer, heat disease all seem to trace back, in some measure, to the development of industrial agriculture. The system is broken. Our dependence on fossil fuels, herbicides, pesticides, and manufactured fertilizers is central to the problem facing not only agriculture but our society.
As longtime cattleman Ridge Shinn, now a leading Devon breeder, puts it: A healthy agriculture is critical to our survival as a species. The concept of grass farming appeared from a mix of agricultural possibilities as the one that could heal agriculture, the land and people in American. The dovetail of the market needs with the availability of a healthy meat that contains the proper balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids plus cancer-fighting CLAs (Congugated Linoleic Acids) is a rare occurrence.
We began to sort through breeds to find ones that would work in a 100% grass fed program but found that the diversity and variability among the existing stocks prevented us from providing a consistent, high quality product to consumers.
Cattle first had to meet our 100% grass fed protocol and then also meet our standard for intramuscular fat, tenderness and volume of meat. In the process of sorting through numerous cattle we found that one breed, the Devon, always had the quality characteristics we were seeking. Shinn and his partner, Gearld Fry, found a number of Devon females that could meet their criteria but also found that bulls in this country had been developed for maternal characteristics, mainly in a futile attempt to make them more acceptable to the feedlot industry. They had become taller and larger at a sacrifice of the quality of their meat and at a loss of the prepotency a bull must have to exhibit predictable, consistent performance in his progeny.
The standards that Fry and Shinn have developed for their Devon herd are attainable for any breeder, even without artificial insemination. The secret ingredient, the genetics, is locked deep within any Devon herd in the country. What is required is an intelligent eye, a careful breeding plan, and patience.
Fry believes the standards that Ken MacDowall has achieved with his New Zealand herd, which mirror the standards of a century ago, are do-able in America:

• Reproductive ability
• Early maturity
• Calving ease
• Superior prepotent bulls
• Repeatability and consistence
• Quality

An impossible dream? No; those calves are already on the ground and so are their dams and sires. More than a few American breeders are well down the road to recovering Devon's "lost genetics". And with its emphasis on "gourmet beef on grass", Devon has been in the forefront of the exploding natural food market from the first. Demand outstrips supply in a wave that is expected to extend into the foreseeable future.