Red Ruby/North Devon BeefI
The Devon Red Ruby is a distinctive red colour, and supposedly one of the oldest beef breeds in existence. Previously a dual purpose breed, it has gradually been bred as a purely beef type breed. The hair is of a medium thickness, although during the winter it is often long and curly. It has a creamy white switch on its tail. It requires very little supplementary feeding, and is ideally suited to grazing on land that has conservation value. Docile by nature and compact in size, the Red Ruby is an efficient grazer causing minimum damage to the land. The breed is prized for its well marbled and tender beef and is recognized internationally for the quality of its beef. This is partly because the breed naturally lays down intramuscular fat within the meat, providing excellent marbling. The ratio of fat to meat is a key component in the flavour of beef as well as its early maturity. The native home of the breed is the South West of Britain, particularly Devon. History records that the Romans took notice of the red cattle when they occupied this area in 55 B.C. There is some evidence that the seagoing Phoenicians may have brought some ancestral red stock from northern Africa or the Middle East to Southwestern England during their visitations for tin. Some animal breeders speculate that this might account for the Devon’s remarkable adaptation to hot climates in spite of its centuries of exposure to the damp, chilly hills of England’s Atlantic coast. According to the breed society, the origins of the cattle are thought to possibly be a combination of the Longifrons (Bos longifrons) and the Urus (Bos taurus primigenius). It has fallen out of favor in modern times due to the increase in demand for rapidly growing continental breeds, such as the Belgian Blue. It is arguable however that the meat quality from a slower maturing breed such as the Red Ruby is superior.