Award-winning Devonair is top bull at Eastyard
HE stands more than five feet tall, measures almost nine feet nose to tail, and weighs as much as a car.
Eastyard Devonair has won him enough points around Britain's show grounds to win the title of Bull of the Year for the Devon breed.
Such success was not predicted when he was a young calf at foot in a North Devon field two years ago. He was spotted by breeder and cattle judge, Mike Cowell, who recognised something in the calf's mother.
"I was looking for another cow for the herd when I saw this little blocky calf with his mother and thought she looked a bit like our Jaylo (already a county show winner).
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"We did a DNA test on her and it turned out she was a sister to Jaylo and the calf was a pure pedigree.
Mike is proud that the little calf has turned into a remarkable investment, gathering winning points at Devon County, Royal Cornwall, Bath and West, Three Counties, Royal Berkshire and Dorset.
Devonair is only two and still growing. As well as taking his own title he has helped Mike and his wife, Danielle, win Devon Breeder of the Year for the second year in succession.
Part of the success is down to the farm's stock handler and farm secretary Lewis Parker.
Visitors to the farm near Ashreigny can soon see the evidence for such an accolade.
The bulls have around them more than 40 pedigree Devon cows of quality, bred during the last five years.
They include the aforementioned Jaylo, so nicknamed for her generous behind, and several up and coming stars, including Jaylo's daughter, Eastyard Camelia, who will go into the show rings with her calf when the big events come round this year.
The Cowells are passionate about their herd, and are already preparing their best for the show season.
"At Christmas when everyone was having a jolly time we were out there breaking cattle and getting them ready for the shows," said Mike.
That means putting on halters and washing and brushing them once a week to get them used to the treatment that will intensify as the competitions draw closer.
"The most important thing is the feed. We start building them up now, gradually, and we formulate our own stuff for them," said Mike.
The Eastyard herd is developing increasingly larger cattle compared with the Devons of recent decades. Mike and Danielle believe the bigger animals are more like the breed's earliest types.
"The Devons are descended from the oxen of old," said Danielle.
She added that these were the cattle taken across to America with the early settlers nearly 400 years ago.
"They have a lovely temperament, and react to the way you treat them," said Danielle.
And Mike added: "They were the biggest breed of cattle behind the short horns because they milked so well."