The South Devon breed has shown itself to be lower on feed intake and more efficient on gain in recent tests. In one test at the Midland Bull Test facility in Columbus, Montana fall born South Devon bulls from the MJB Ranch, Lodge Grass, Montana, were fed with a large group of fall born Angus bulls. Every South Devon bull was a negative for Residual Feed Intake (RFI) and exhibited excellent feed conversion. The test charts shows the feed efficiency of the bulls tested.
At the Leachman Cattle Company in Wellington, Colorado South Devon have also shown that they are lower on feed intake and more efficient on gain. Lee Leachman noted that beyond hybrid vigor, the biggest opportunity for improving profitability is by reducing the feed required to produce a pound of beef. This starts with the cow and how much she eats. Then, the feed conversion on the steers is important. Results from the Midland Bull Station and Leachman Cattle Company have shown that the average South Devon ranks very high on feed efficiency. In fact, South Devon might be the most efficient beef breed.
Lee Englehardt, X-E Stock Ranch, Moses Lake, Washington manages the X-E somewhat scientifically. There is an old saying that “you cannot manage what you cannot measure.” Engelhardt weights the fed hay bales and he expects his cattle to winter on 26 lbs. of hay per day. In addition the cows are expected to wean calves that are 55-60% of their mature body weight. “Our ideal cow is 1,150-1,200 lbs. The more calf she produces with less inputs or feed the better. I have fed many different breeds and crossbreeds of cattle. South Devon cattle maintain their condition and get by on less feed than any other breed I have managed.”