THE strength in the legs of a South Devon bull proved the decisive factor in his record sale to North Tamerton cattle breeding team of Bill and Suzanne Harper.
The couple were keen to improve their Bedford herd and paid £10,200 guineas (£10,710) for the outstanding Welland Valley Trident 3 at the South Devon Cattle Breeders Society autumn show and sale.
"He's a particularly interesting example of a polled bull because of his overall leg structure," said Bill after they brought their new addition home to Trepoile Farm.
He explained the strength has been bred in through a blood line in Australia where he said there's a need for high mobility. "They generally breed fitter cattle because they've got longer distances to walk over there," he said.
Trident's Australian characteristics go back three generations of South Devons and were bred into cattle on the Leicestershire farm of Malcolm & Thelma Broome, who have specialised in South Devons for the last 20 years.
Bill and Suzanne had taken a careful look at the genetics of their new purchase. Trident's sire was Z Embury Hermes (T), and his mother, Welland Valley Irsa, "A wonderful milking cow. The feminine attributes are so important," said Bill.
The Broomes' cattle were prominent at the show and sale, including female champion Welland Valley Reggatta 18 (T), a stylish in-calf heifer who sold for the top female price of 5,100 guineas and Welland Valley Primrose 31, which made the next best price.
The Harpers have enjoyed a successful showing year culminating in a supreme interbreed championship at Kingsbridge. They also showed a pair that came fourth in the interbreed class at Royal Cornwall Show. They keep around 100 South Devons and a herd of black Limousins with the aim of building up a suckler herd of about 100 of each breed.
Bill said he can sum up the character of the South Devons in two words: "Docility and growth. They're lovely cattle to work with."
The couple have made time to take their South Devons to ten shows this year, and they also judge cattle. But Bill says they've become a bit more selective about where they go to avoid "back-to-back" exhibiting, which Bill said is tiring for both the cattle and themselves. "Showing is a real effort but it's one thing that drives us forward. It's our hobby and our business, something you can do together as a husband and wife team."