The South Devon Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa was founded on 24 June 1914 on a meeting held during the Royal Show in Pieter Maritzburg, Natal. The first President was Col. E.M. Greene of Nottingham Road. The decision to join the then SA Stud Book Association was taken on this historic first meeting. The Society almost disbanded during and after the Second World War when both its finances and its membership were at a very low ebb. The first Journal of the Society was published in 1954. During the 1970’s the Society and the breed went from strength to strength and membership increased to 115. Since the start of the 1990’s the Society and the breed have undergone another recession, however, since the start of the new millennium there has been a huge demand for bulls as well as female animals. At the time the Society decided to outsource all its administrative affairs to the Secretarial Services Division of the SA Stud Book and Livestock Improvement Association. Many other breeds soon followed the South Devons to the secretarial service division.

Participation in shows and exhibitions is encouraged where emphasis is placed on functional efficiency. Noteworthy inter-breed achievements by South Devon cattle and breeders date back to 1905. Shows also present valuable opportunities for breeders’ societies to promote the breeds they represent as well as for individual breeders to evaluate their cattle against those of their peers and to gain recognition as breeders.

The South Devon Cattle Breeder’s Society presented a successful National Championship at the Central Show in Bloemfontein, in the Free State, during March 1997. It can be said that over many decades in South Africa, the South Devon has adapted to the much harsher South African environment to such an extent that it can compete with indigenous cattle breeds. Foreign visitors often remark on the excellent quality of South Devons to be found in South Africa and the export opportunities of this genetic source will hopefully soon be realised.

Changing socio-economic conditions in South Africa and the growing population will ensure that more consumers will demand red meat, as part of their daily diet, while natural resources such as land becomes scarcer. The South Devon has proved over the years that it is an ideal breed to produce more beef and milk from relatively low quality forages like natural grazing and crop residues, with minimal inputs of high-energy supplements. The fertility and mothering abilities of the South Devon will play a major role in this changing world. Animal scientists claim that fertility is the most important factor in any production system. South Devon breeders confidently face the challenges of the future, in the knowledge that the breed has the genetics to meet the demands.

 

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