Classification is a measuring tool of individual males and females against the breed standard of excellence. At herd level, it marks a baseline and encourages progress in breeding programs.

In 2018, the DCBS engaged the services of National Bovine Data Centre (NBDC), who already classified several other beef breeds. Until that point, for nearly a decade, The Devon Society employed their own in-house fieldsman as Classifier.

The Society has worked closely with NBDC to ensure Devon Classification scoring reflects Red Ruby breed traits and characteristics; with results representing a true breed-type outcome.

Benefits

• An independent evaluation of individuals within a herd against the breed standard
• A management tool to gauge progress within a herd’s breeding program
• A marketing aid when selling breeding stock, particularly heifers/young bulls e.g. progeny that has come out of or by high scoring dams/sires and granddams/grandsires

Herd inspection

Booking a classifying session is done via the DCBS office, which then coordinates with NBDC. A pre-classifying ‘walk through’ of herds new to classifying can be arranged, free of charge.
On actual classifying day, cattle need to be presented in a yard with the facility for them to be viewed individually on firm ground. Although sensible to pre-arrange classifying date when a herd’s cattle are likely to be seasonally at their best (which varies greatly from farm to farm), the scheme’s intention is to inspect individuals in their working clothes – not prepped for the show ring

Individual score ranges
Excellent (EX) 90 – 97
Very Good (VG) 85 – 89
Good Plus (GP) 80 – 84
Good (G) 75 – 79
Fair (F) 65 – 74
Poor (P) 50 – 64
with the following criteria:
• bulls must be over 2 years of age
• females must have had their first calf
• as a 1st or 2nd calver: females cannot achieve a score higher than VG89
• as a 3rd calver: females cannot achieve a score above EX93
• as a 4th calver: females cannot achieve a score above EX95

To ascertain an individual’s overall score, the Classifier works through 4 main sections: body confirmation and breed character, beef trait confirmation, feet and legs, and for females: udder.  Within those categories, various criteria are appraised and an algorithm applied to generate final score, the details of which become available once a herd commits to classifying. 

Pricing detail is available from the DCBS office – the structure of which is an initial flat rate charge that covers the first 15 females, with a headage cost per animal thereafter.

Summary

Type Classification is a central part of the Society’s on-going strategy to improve the overall standard of the females in our national herd.  This objective is particularly important to our breed at a time of great change to agricultural policy and the uncertainty about the future of environmental schemes which may work in the breed’s favour.  Making sure we are focussed on breeding a standard of suckler cow that any beef farmer would aspire to keep has never been so important to the future success of our breed and farming enterprises.