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About Scottish Highland Cattle

Highland Cattle are an ancient breed known to have grazed the rugged Scottish landscape since the sixth century, making them one of the oldest known breeds of cattle.  They are noted for their ease of calving, high quality lean beef and superb hides.  Highland Cattle require a minimum of management and care, do not require winter housing and they forage readily where feed is sparse. Noted as browsers and brush clearers, they eat much of what other cattle pass by. Their double coat of hair makes the meat leaner since there is no need for a fatty layer to keep them warm.  Despite their long horns, they are gentle and easily handled, are distinguished for their quiet dispositions, superior intelligence and calm nature.

The extremely harsh conditions in Scotland created a process of natural selection, where only the fittest and most adaptable animals survived to carry on the breed. They come in various colors, red and black being the most common but yellow, tan and silver are also seen.  Our cattle are in many shades of red although we have had black and silver calves in the past.

Our Cattle

We keep a very small herd of cows due to our land conditions.  Cattle are very heavy creatures and are hard on the land in winter and spring when land is soggy, especially on land like ours where the soils are mostly clay.  We have therefore decided not to expand our herd of cattle but only expand the flock of sheep that are very light on the land and can start grazing in early spring. 

Our cattle are grass fed.  We see no need to change that perfect relationship between the cow and grass.  The cows' stomach is designed to process grass and not much grain.  Grass makes them grow at a normal pace whereas grain makes them bulk up unnaturally fast and add on a huge amount of fat.  This is not healthy for anyone, neither animal or human. 

We practice rotational grazing.  It means the cows are moved to a different pasture as soon as their existing one is grazed down.  For us that is about one week.  Our animals are so used to this rotational schedule that if we are late they stand by the fence and call us.

In winter we generally confine our cows to one area where we  feed them hay.  This is called the sacrificial area since it gets totally trampled.  This prevents the soils on the rest of the pastures to be compacted by these heavy creatures.  As soon as conditions allow, usually in late March, we let the cows out again and the whole rotation starts all over again. 

Highland cattle have a very thick winter coat and the outer layer is very long.  This helps them cope with wet cold weather and in fact, winters here in the Northwest are nothing to them.  But the summers on the other hand are more difficult.  We therefore make sure they have shade all through the summer.  Shade is important to all of us, humans and animals alike.

Because of our small herd size we do not keep a bull but rent one instead.  We are therefore, not always able to get a Highland bull and have experimented in mixing the Highland breed with other local breeds.  We feel that since we are not breeding to expand the herd and only to raise the calves for meat this does not affect the Highland breed it self.

Our Customers

Our customer base for beef is mainly in the Rochester and Olympia area.  Since we only slaughter two animals each year and 1/4 beef is the minimum order.  There are not that many 1/4 beef to go around.  We have had great response to this lean beef.  The same customers come back year after year.

Testimonials

Sue:  Your beef is the best I have ever had.  I had no idea there was meat like this available.  We feel so lucky to be on your mailing list.

Hollis and Dana:  We want to tell you that your beef is the BEST WE EVER HAD IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD.  Really.  Every cut, ever bite is simply delicious -- full of flavor, great texture.   Yay!  A winner!!!!!   

Ben from Ben's Custom Slaughter:  Yours are the nicest grass fed beef I have seen in a long time.  There are grass fed and there are grass and well fed animals.  Yours are in the latter category.

 

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