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East Anglia Future 50

Suffolk Show set to host national native cattle breed competition

PUBLISHED: 10:04 25 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:04 25 May 2018

Judging of South Devon cattle at the Suffolk Show back in 2010 Picture: ASHLEY PICKERING

Judging of South Devon cattle at the Suffolk Show back in 2010 Picture: ASHLEY PICKERING

Pedigree cattle breeders from all over the UK will be descending on this year's Suffolk Show as it plays host to a national breed contest.

A South Devon competing at the Suffolk Show in 2010 Picture: ASHLEY PICKERINGA South Devon competing at the Suffolk Show in 2010 Picture: ASHLEY PICKERING

South Devon Herd Book Society’s ninth national show takes place on May 30 and 31 in the show’s cattle rings.

Since its inception, the national contest, which was started after the Royal show disappeared, has travelled to various agricultural shows around the country. The society, which has around 750 members, will have its own marquee, and will be holding an awards dinner on the first evening.

“We have not been to Suffolk county before, so it’s high time we were there.” said breed secretary Caroline Poultney.

Although, as the name suggests, a lot of the breed in concentrated in the south-west, it can be found throughout the country, including in East Anglia.

“We have got some nice little pockets of interest in East Anglia, and some fairly big pedigree heards. Numerically, it’s not a big area for cattle generally, but the South Devons do play a part,” she said. “It’s good on the marshland in Norfolk, on the Broads, and it’s a breed that will forage and will survive almost anything.”

The society is expecting around 80 to 90 breeders from around the country to descend on the Suffolk Show.

The South Devon is numerically the third biggest native British beef breed after the Aberdeen Angus and the Hereford. Each have different attributes, but all do well on grass, Caroline explained.

“It’s the largest of the native beef breeds, so it competes quite readily with the continental breeds, Charolais and Limousin.”

The animals were very easy to handle, she said.

Historically, the breed, which is quite ‘milky’ was also used as a dairy animal, and in the 19th century, a draught animal which pulled ploughshares.

The light red coated animals, supplying rich milk and good beef, were established as a breed in 1800 and originated from south west England, in an area of Devon known as the South Hams. They were exported from Plymouth to North America in considerable numbers - including a few on the Mayflower in 1620. The society was founded in 1891 when it was recognised by government as an official body. The breed is one of 14 whose herd books date back to the second half of the 19th century.

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