Coming together once every four years, the World Devon Congress reunites old friends from across the world, and introduces new friends to each other. It is a demonstration of the versatility of our breed beyond ourown shores. It is an opportunity to exchange knowledge and best practice with breeders who have been working with Devon cattle for generations. There is an encyclopaedia of knowledge of bloodlines, types, and history. There is thehumility to admit mistakes and weaknesses, and the forum to discuss individual strengths. Cattle are looked at with a constructively critical eye. It is intense. 17 herds visited in less than two weeks, with other events interspersed into the programme.
The cycle of the World Devon Congress operates through five different countries, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Brazil, and ourselves. This means that each country is only visited every 20 years, the last time in the United Kingdom being 1996. Many of our visitors have been more frequent visitors, but in some cases there had been a 20 year gap. There was a view that our national herd had significantly ‘improved’ in that time. We had successfully resolved the size issue, while the influence of external grading up had diminished through the generations thus ensuring the greater purity of the bloodlines. We were seen to be in a good place, by the constructively critical eye. If there was a ‘but’, it was a concern expressed by some that size for its own sake should not be the Holy Grail. The character of the breed was paramount, and we were reminded of our responsibility in the ‘home’ of the Devon not to sacrifice those attributes that make the Devon so successful in so many parts of the world.
We were able to show different types of cattle in different environments. The herd owners surpassed themselves in showing cattle at their best in high summer. A wet spring meant that for once the parched grasslands of East Anglia were not, while in the (unusually) drier west, it was tactless to complain about a shortage of grass especially in front of our Australian visitors. The entertainment and hospitality was of the highest possible standard throughout the tour, and on behalf of the breed society I would like to thank all of those herd owners and their families who put themselves out to provide such generous fare. Large numbers of home based members also took the opportunity to join our visitors on herd visits.
The first centrepiece was the conference held in Exeter. It was a reminder of how technology is moving forward in our world with opportunities to exchange information across the world on genetics, and howthese are being used as a guidepost to the refining of the best characteristics. We reflected that we all work in differing environments, even within one country, but there is much to be learned from establishing a global database of genetic information.
The second centrepiece was the Royal Three Counties Show at Malvern with over 100 Devons of great quality forward to be judged by two of our overseas visitors, Mr Ted Laurie from Australia and Professor Elizabeth Cirne-Lima from Brazil. What was on display made us proud of what we can do with our cattle. We are tremendously grateful for the enthusiastic support of the World Congress shown by very many international delegates who participated, and we hope that we have fulfilled your hopes and expectations during your time with us.
James Williams, DCBS President
Breed Society Country Reports
given at the World Congress Conference, 13th June 2016
View Country Report from UK
View Country Report from Australia
View Country Report from New Zealand
View Country Report from Brazil
View Country Report from USA
DCBS members can view presentations, including slides, given at the World Congress Conference, from the members' area of the website, or contact the Breed Secretary for further assistance.
Reflections from Lisa Roper, Forde Abbey, Chair of the organising committee
MVF - lead sponsor of the Devon World Congress 2016
BOVELA - sponsor of the Devon World Congress 2016 Conference
LLOYDS BANK - sponsor of the Devon World Congress Conference Dinner
KNIGHT FRANK - sponsor of Devons at Royal Three Counties Show 2016
UK SIRE SERVICES - sponsor of the Devon World Congress Welcome Reception
AHDB - sponsor of the Devon World Congress
HILLS OF DEVON - official supplier of bottled water