How can you not love this face? Really.
This is a highland cow, the breed that I have decided to raise for our On Farm Market.
Highlands were developed in Scotland and the breed has remained essentially unchanged for close to 200 years! They are a generally healthy, hardy breed, with the ability to withstand harsh climates. They have a double coat which is naturally oiled to repel rain and snow. Which is good. Since in Canada that kind of weather makes up more than half of our year.
Another important aspect I looked at when choosing a breed, is it’s mothering abilities. They are easy calvers (many people will tell you they sneeze and out pops the calf) with babes being born between 50-75 lbs; thats about half as much as our dog weighs. Cows can produce up to 12 calves in their life, which greatly reduces their replacement costs as well.
Cows have a high percentage of butterfat in their milk which produces a strong, healthy calf with good natural weight gain.
With all these great traits, its hard to understand why this breed is a rarity these days, isn’t it?
Many heritage breeds are slow to mature. Here in lies the problem. Most producers don’t want to raise a cow that can take 2 years to bring to weight, when many breeds are ready in half as much time. But because of this breeds slow maturation, it produces lean, evenly marbled meat, with lower fat and cholesterol! And in this day and age, thats a big concern for many people. Take a look at this:
Studies in the UK list the quantities of fat per 100 grams as:
Highland Beef Overall 4.5 g/ 100g
Other Breeds Beef Overall 15.6 g/ 100g
Highland Beef Overall 40.9 mg/100g
Other Breeds Beef Overall 64.3 mg/100g
Highland Beef Overall 20.7 g/100g
Other Breeds Beef Overall 18.6 g/100g
Highland Beef Overall 2.1 mg/100g
Other Breeds Beef Overall 2.0 mg/100g
Scottish Agricultural College, Dept. of Food Science and Technology published by McCance & Widdowson, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
It’s official. The Highland cow has won my heart. Now, I’ll begin my search for a starter heard of my own 🙂