Welcome to Hillside Pastures
Hillside Pastures is a small grass-based farm in the Driftless Region of southwest Wisconsin that was started in 2009 by Daniel and Linda Marquardt. The primary focus of the farm is the production of high-quality Red Devon seedstock---bulls and heifers that are sold to other farmers who are trying to meet the increasing demand for grassfed beef.
Developing purebred cattle for this high-end market requires continual improvement in the genetic quality of the cows and bulls that are the worker bees of the farm. And since the herd has been closed (no outside cows added to the herd since 2015), the introduction of new genetics comes primarily through artificial insemination, using the best Red Devon bulls we can find. (In 2018 we will be using semen recently imported from Australia.)
Another method for improving the herd is to constantly evaluate the cows with a critical eye toward less than ideal udders, feet, fertility, frame size, etc. Cows that rank at the bottom are replaced with our most promising heifers---a process that leads inevitably to a few animals going in the freezer every year. (Interpretation: we sell terrific summer sausage and ground beef!)
Update: Upper Midwest Devon Exchange
The 4th Annual Upper Midwest Devon Exchange was held at Hillside Pastures on May 12, 2018. The morning session kicked off with a ringside educational workshop, and live cattle were used to demonstrate the characteristics of Devon that make them so well suited to finish on grass. The well-attended workshop, conducted by Jamie Hostetler, initiated a conversation that was continued over lunch.
After lunch we convened in the shop for a presentation from the Wisconsin Grassfed Beef Coop and a talk on how to use DNA testing to develop a plan to eradicate horns from your herd. Attendees then took time to view some exceptional Devon cattle in the cowyard before the official events were wrapped up with a live auction of Devon cattle.
It was an intense couple of days that were made possible only by enormous contributions from the three collaborating Devon breeders. We want to once again thank them wholeheartedly. Follow this link to the UMDE for more information about the event: www.uppermidwestdevon.com.
One goal of the Upper Midwest Devon Exchange, to stimulate an ongoing exchange of Devon cattle, was a major success. In fact, after the one-day Exchange we have been showing and selling Devon cattle from our herd that were not even officially shown or offered for sale, mostly cow/calf pairs and steers. That’s exactly the way it is supposed to work.