Rural Heritage Ox Paddock

Pure Breeds of Oxen

Devon Bigger picture

American Milking Devon

The American Milking Devon is an old English breed that has been used for centuries as a draft animal. Early American and English agricultural books frequently cite the Devon, or North Devon, as one of the best breeds for draft purposes. Because Milking Devons have a livelier temperament than other breeds, they are usually not recommended for the beginning teamster. For someone who wants an outstanding work animal, and has the time and knack for training cattle, though, they make fine work animals.

About 25 years ago, New England ox teamsters and rare breed enthusiasts recognized that the Devon ox prized by teamsters for centuries was being lost. A small group of people saved this breed by organizing their own breed association, making the "old type" Devon a separate breed from the modern Devon, bred for commercial purposes. As New England ox teamsters say, "The beef Devon has had its brains and brawn bred out of it" in the name of a faster-growing and heftier meat animal. The original breed character has been maintained in the American Milking Devon, complete with its characteristic horns and its trimmer, smaller body.

color— red
average mature weight— ox: 1,600-1,800#
bull: 1,500-1,700#
cow: 1,000-1,200#
temperament— quick and alert
association— American Milking Devon Association
web resource— American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
  Oklahoma State University

Ayrshire Bigger picture


The Ayrshire is a medium-sized breed frequently seen in New England and easily recognized by its long horns. This breed tends to be a little more active than many of the other breeds. Ayrshires carry a little more flesh and muscle than other dairy breeds, and their size makes them a good choice as an all-around farm or woods team.

color— red and white
average mature weight— ox: 2,000#
bull: 1,850#
cow: 1,200-1,300#
temperament— active and challenging
association— Ayrshire Breeders Association
web resource— Oklahoma State University
  American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

Swiss Bigger picture

Brown Swiss

Brown Swiss tend to be calm, forgiving, and easy going, making them a great choice for the novice teamster. On the other hand, they grow faster and larger than many other breeds, which may be a disadvantage for young teamsters or those with limited facilities and small transport trailers.

color— light to dark brown
average mature weight— ox: 2,400#
bull: 2,200#
cow: 1,400-1,500#
temperament— docile and slow
association— Brown Swiss Association
  Brown Swiss Cattle Society (UK)
web resource— Oklahoma State University

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09 June 2011