During the mid 20th century, however, the breed faced pressure to specialize as a beef animal, and this population is now called the Devon or Beef Devon breed. A small group of breeders disagreed with this trend and founded a separate organization to preserve dairy and draft traits in their cattle. Although this organization later disbanded, many of the genetic stocks were saved and in 1978 the American Milking Devon Association was formed to record and conserve the original, colonial-type cattle. The persistence of these New England dairy farmers and teamsters protected the breed from extinction.
Today, there are over 500 Milking Devon cattle in existence and the population is stable. The breed is a favorite exhibition animal at historic sites because of its attractiveness and well-documented history.
Milking Devon cattle are red with black tipped white horns. Cattle are medium in size, with cows averaging 1, 100 pounds and bulls 1, 600 pounds. The appearance is compact yet fine, with a straight topline, square set legs, and well formed udders. They are well adapted to low-input management schemes and harsh environments. They typically have very few calving difficulties, and many are very productive milkers for the family farm. Milking Devon are still prized for use as draft animals.