The new herd of South Devon cattle at Skreens Park Farm was started in 2013 to help add to the diversity of the farm.
Skreens Park, historically, has had cattle and other stock graze the land for hundreds if not thousands of years. Yet in the last hundred years, due to agricultural mechanisation and the productive soils of the eastern counties, cattle are not as common as they once were, especially in Essex.
With existing grassland and the stables, the South Devon cattle have settled in very well to life at Skreens Park Farm. There is currently a growing herd including the bull, North View Bentley, and cows from the Grove herd. Further information on South Devon cattle and the Herd Book Society,which we are members of, can be found here.
The health of the herd is of absolute importance to us at Skreens Park Farm and will be part of the Hi-Health Herd Scheme (more information here). This will ensure that all animals are kept healthy and ensure the vitality of the herd.
The South Devon breed originated from an area of Devon known as the South Hams, from which they spread over the counties of Devon and Cornwall. They were established by 1800 and have been a successful breed for many farmers due to their build, rich milk and finely grained and marbled beef. They have also seen export to North America, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa because of their hardiness and adaptability to other climates. A trait that will be increasingly important amongst modern cattle breeds in current and future weather patterns.
South Devon cattle have a docile temperament (bulls often named ‘Gentle Giants’) and have a range of qualities that make them an excellent and rounded breed. Cows and heifers have strong mothering qualities, early maturation and fast growth rates. They are hardy and adaptable to different situations, hence their export to countries such as South Africa, and can have an excellent grass conversion ability. With a gestation period of 286 days some cows can calve every year for as long as 15 years allowing speedy herd growth.