Devon Cattle Field Day

American Milking Devon Cattle Association Board of Directors invites members and friends to a Devon Cattle Field Day on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at Maple Breeze Farm in Westbrook, Connecticut.

Professor Drew Conroy will be leading discussions on oxen at work; conformation, breeding and culling. Professor Conroy holds a B.S. Degree in Animal Science from the University of New Hampshire, a Masters Degree in Agriculture from Northwest Missouri State University, and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from UNH.

He teaches primarily Animal and Dairy Science courses at the University of New Hampshire. He is a registered professional animal scientist for beef cattle and dairy cattle, and is one of the foremost authorities on draft oxen in North America. He has written three books, nearly 100 hundred articles, produced 5 educational videos, been featured in 2 major motion pictures, consulted for numerous television stations assisting with documentaries on draft animals. He has conducted workshops all over the world on the subject of ox training, yoking and using oxen in both historic and contemporary settings.

He and his wife Janet operate a small, diversified grass based farm in Berwick, Maine where they raise cattle, sheep, and poultry, which keeps him actively engaged with the local agricultural community. He frequently judges cattle, oxen and other livestock at agricultural fairs and events. He is a former president and board member of the American Milking Devon Association.

Coffee and very light fare will be available at the farm beginning at 9:00 a.m. The program will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a Devon beef lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers included. The tentative program schedule is: 10-11 a.m. Oxen Demonstrations in the Garden; 11-noon All About Bulls in the Barnyard, where Professor Conroy will comment on several bulls of various ages, questions and answers; noon-1 p.m. lunch at the farm; 1-2 p.m. Let’s Look At Cows at the Wheatfields – Professor Conroy will be critiquing cows of various ages; 2-3 p.m. Heifers and Calves also at the Wheatfields – A look at heifers and calves and a discussion about conformation, culling, etc. If you are interested in oxen, you are able to stay and talk with the drovers and skip the bull session, until lunch.

Reservations are required and must be made no later than October 1, 2014. Please call, 860- 399-4611, or email your reply to: johnandbonniehall610@comcast.net. This program, including lunch, is free.

Lodging is available in Westbrook at: Captain Stannard House Bed & Breakfast, 138 South Main Street, 860-399-4634; Westbrook Inn B&B, 976 Boston Post Road, 860-399-4777; Water’s Edge Resort and Spa, 1525 Boston Post Road, 860-399-5901. Lodging is available in Old Saybrook at: Econo Lodge Inn and Suite, 1750 Boston Post Road -– 860-399-7973; Quality Inn, 100 Essex Road – 860-395-1414; Super Eight Motel, 37 Spencer Plain Road – 860-399-6273; Days Inn, 1430 Boston Post Road, 860-388-3453; Deacon Timothy Pratt B&B, 325 Main Street – 860-395-1229; Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, 2 Bridge Street – 860- 395-2000.

Maple Breeze Farm is located at 563 East Pond Meadow Road, Westbrook, CT.

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Cattle for Western Pennsylvania

Taken from The American Agriculturist, Volume 32, 1873

“E.C.J.”., Clinton, Pa. asks which is the best breed cattle for Western Pennsylvania, Durham, or Devon. Devon, by all means; Durham cattle would be much out of place on hilly ground or on thin pastures, while the Devons are at home in such a country. 

 

Milking Devons: Are they cattle or are they goats?

The Pennsylivania deer season ended Saturday so on Sunday we opened the pasture up to give the girls some fresh pasture, outside of the safety zone provided by the house and barn.  We also put a bale of haylage in the feeder.  This was the first bale of haylage we have used.  It smells like candy and the sweet odor carries for hundreds of yards.  Forgetful me neglected to turn the electric fence back on until I realized it at about nine o’clock at night.  This morning I went to bring the girls in for a bit of grain as I do every morning and I was surprised to find just one lonely heifer waiting at the door.  She bawled for her mates but none answered.  I thought for sure the rest had gotten out and relocated to another county.  I set out into the dark and rain to inspect the fence figuring I could find the break now and start tracking them as soon a some daylight came.  Of course while I was doing this I congratulated myself for not remembering to turn the fence on!  Eventually  I started to make out their dark shapes ahead.  Thankfully they never had gotten out  but they did mass in the corner of the pasture as far from the barn as they could get.  Why?  They where enjoying some spruce branches I had pruned a week ago.  I knew they liked to pick at low hanging spruce branches, and will even eat multiflora rose, when it is in the correct stage of growth, but it surprised me that despite having fresh pasture, a fresh bale of candy haylage and a standing appointment for a dish of grain they preferred to eat trees.  I guess that’s why they are so thrifty!

Singing the praises of the Devon ox!

The following is taken from Cattle: Their Breeds, Management, and Diseases, By William Youatt, 1834

There is a peculiarity in driving the ox team, which is very pleasing to the stranger, and the remembrance of which, connected with his early days, the native does not soon lose. A man and a boy attend each team; the boy chants that which can scarcely be regarded as any distinct tune, but which is a very pleasing succession of sounds, resembling the countertenor in the service of the cathedral. He sings away with unwearied lungs, as he trudges along almost from morning to night, while every now and then the ploughman, as he directs the movement of the team, puts in his lower notes, but in perfect concord. When the traveler stops in one of the Devonshire valleys, and hears this simple music from the drivers of the ploughs on the slope of the hill on either side, he experiences a pleasure which this operation of husbandry could scarcely be supposed to be capable of affording. This chanting is said to animate the oxen somewhat in the same way as the musical bells that are so prevalent in the same county. Certainly the oxen move along with an agility that would be scarcely expected from cattle; and the team may be watched a long while without one harsh word being heard, or the goad or the whip applied. The opponents of ox husbandry should visit the valleys of north or south Devon, to see what this animal is capable of performing, and how he performs it.