Bill and I attended the National Red Devon Conference in Springfield, Missouri last month. We are very excited about where our breed of cattle are heading nationally. Moving from a group mostly interested in raising purebred Red Devon (which rarely make it to the meat market), we found that many others are now more interested in producing high quality, and healthy, gourmet meat products. It is great to be able to share experiences with others and to explore new strategies to create even more interest in our beef and pork products.
Other breeders that I have known for years shared how they became interested in producing grassfed/finished beef. I learned that many pursued this area of production because of health concerns, including cancer and allergy issues. We are convinced more than ever that we have a unique product that contributes to a healthier local community.
We are exploring ways to increase our production and marketing in the coming year.
Stay tuned for more developments.
Post by Nancy Walker
Post by James
James has been working on the farm since September 2015. He is a recent Animal Science graduate from Clemson University and is intensively managing the cattle and pigs at Walker Century Farms
Last fall and summer proved to be difficult times on the farm with the lack of rain during late summer and most of the fall resulting in a scarcity of forages and the necessity of purchasing hay to feed our cattle. Although not our preference, hay is largely grasses and other forages and is an acceptable food for grassfed/grass-finished cattle. The rains that finally came were greatly appreciated by the cattle because the grass began to grow with the warmer than average temperatures. The cattle much prefer fresh grass to hay, but they are nevertheless in good flesh. We have a very good supply of meat for our market.
Our pork production is doing quite well. Ernest Walker (Bill's cousin) has began intensively managing the pigs and they enjoy the attention he has been giving them.
On Friday Sept 18 - Saturday Sept 19, we hosted the national Red Devon USA Association (RDUSA) here at the farm.
As you may know, Walker Century Farms has been in our family for over 100 years (hence the certified "Century Farm" designation). Our specialty is grass-fed, grass-finished beef raised on pasture using holistic management approaches that improve soil health, sequester atmospheric carbon, AND produce a much healthier, more flavorful cut of beef for folks in our area who care about what they eat. ("Healthier" meaning a leaner meat with a balanced Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acid ratio, no hormones, no antibiotics, etc..)
We use and breed Red Devon cattle, an ancient breed that has been in domestication for as long as 2,000 years. Interestingly, Red Devons were also the first breed of cattle brought to the New World by the pilgrims. In 1623, three Red Devon heifers and a bull were brought to the Plymouth Colony aboard the ship Charity. Red Devons are a very docile breed that produces fantastic meat and finishes particularly well on grass.
We've been members of RDUSA for many years, and feel a special kinship with our fellow Devon cattlemen and women. Interestingly, RDUSA has the oldest cattle breeding records on earth, and its membership includes farmers from all over the world, not just the US.
RDUSA's annual conference isn't just for members; it's open to the public. These events provide a great opportunity for anyone interested in learning about (and seeing) what truly sustainable cattle farming looks like and meeting some of the men and women who are making it happen.
The main speakers at the 2015 conference were:
Below are a few photos from the 2015 Red Devon USA event that we hope you enjoy. Also note that The Pavilion at Walker Century Farms is a one-of-a-kind event venue right here in Upstate, South Carolina. If you're planning a wedding or event, we'd love to host you!