Running bulls in an operation always comes with a few extra headaches. The possibilities of aggressiveness and fence jumping are part of the working day for a cattle producer during breeding season.

However, in using Red Devon bulls over the past 10 years, we have found that the Devons vastly simplify the potential unpredictability of bulls in a cattle operation. Whether transporting, breeding, or holding Devon bulls, their docility reduces a rancher’s chores surrounding the keeping of bulls.

Docile but Vigilant
Recently, a neighbor who had purchased one of our Red Devons came to check on his commercial cows and his Red Devon bull in a pasture near Bozeman, MT. He found that another bull of a different breed had been added to the adjoining pasture since he had last visited his herd. Normally, that would be a recipe for destruction of property, and fence repair! However, while the other bull had destroyed the irrigation ditch that bordered the fence, with pawing, digging, and churning up the soil on his side of the fence, the Red Devon had placidly walked the fence on HIS side. The slight pathway through the grasses showed that he had steadfastly maintained his position between his cows and the other bull, but the rancher had no extra labor required of him, no repairs of any kind to make on the property boundary.

Easy Trailing
Many of us need to transport herds of cattle from one pasture location to another on foot. Sometimes that is along roadways, sometimes across fields. Red Devons, with their docile natures, make that voyage especially easy.
Bulls of many breeds, when dislocated due to required travel, will spend much of the voyage fighting another bull as they walk. This slows down progress, disrupts cows and calves who are pushed aside as the bulls fight during the trip, and can even mean that the main herd forges ahead to the destination while a few bulls tussle and shove, hour after hour, farther and farther behind the herd’s progress. How many of us have enough herders to split off an extra herder just to keep the tussling bulls moving forward, while the rest of the herd and herders continues at a reasonable speed?

Red Devon bulls, with their docility and cooperative natures, move within the herd, slowing nothing, keeping pace with the task at hand and moving cheerfully along as part of the main herd of pairs.
Whether moving within a mixed sex herd, or as a group of males, Red Devons are cooperative and efficient.

Bulls and Steers together
Red Devons’ docile nature means that it is possible to pasture steers and bulls together in the same field or corral for efficiency of grazing herds. With many breeds, steers combined with bulls are continually harassed and ridden by the bulls, meaning that in a herd where steers are retained, separate pastures are required for steers and for bulls. That requires more land, more fencing, and more labor for a producer.
Red Devons save a producer money through the ability to combine all males, castrated and uncastrated, into a single grazing herd. A single Red Devon herd bull with happily stay put in a pasture with only a steer for company, a significant advantage in a smaller herd situation.

Docile and Cooperative
In even the most vigilant systems bulls occasionally move themselves into a breeding herd where they are not welcome.
In that case— a cycling cow pursued by the herd bull, or several bulls— a producer will need to move the herd into a space where the intruding bulls can be removed from the herd and taken away from the cycling cow.
I routinely work our Red Devon cattle on foot, and at 5’4” I am not an imposing presence.
However, I never worry if I need to bring a group of bulls and a hot cow or two into a corral to pull those eager intruders out of the breeding herd. Our Red Devon bulls have never challenged me, and always cooperate with intelligence and docility when I am sorting in that kind of potentially dangerous situation.
I even tested the “breeding day proximity situation” this autumn, purposefully putting our young Red Devon yearling and two year old bulls across the fence from our herd bull and a group of late calving cows. The only time that one of these young Red Devon bulls jumped the fence was when three cows were cycling simultaneously one day. With a single cycling cow, our Devon herd bull just kept the cow busy and away from the shared fence. With 3 cows, at least one of the females sidled up to the shared fence and incited a youngster to assist her. Otherwise, the youngsters kept dutifully to their side of the fence.

Red Devons save producers money and headaches, whether in large or small operations. Fewer fences, fewer pastures, fewer herders during pasture shifts, and fewer repairs to equipment are required with Red Devons.

Written by Jenny Sabo