Our decision to bring Scottish Highland Cattle to the beautiful high mountain prairie of Camas County, Idaho came partly as a result of the mixed blessing of basically retiring at age 53. Our long winters were starting to get to me mentally and emotionally. I needed something to give me a reason to get off the couch and out in the fresh air. So, after much research I bought myself a job, a small fold of Highland Cattle, with the intention of us enjoying our long winters together.
In addition to having always loved raising livestock, I recently experienced some mid-life health challenges (if you can call age 63 mid-life, meaning that I will ultimately live to be 126) that inspired me to find healthy alternative foods. Much to my surprise and dismay, as a tall, lean, fairly hard-working man who exercised regularly and rode bikes hundreds of miles each year, it was discovered that I had heart disease. Therefore, in July of 2013 I had two stints inserted into my heart. Alarmed by this, my research led me (always the extremist) to deciding I could live without meat, cheese, milk, eggs or anything else that came from something that walked, swam, flew, breathed air or had ever had a heartbeat of their own. I totally went vegan for two years with impressive results relating to my circulatory system, but doing very little for my mental attitude as I often felt deprived and longed for a good burger or steak.
Voilá, enter Scottish Highland Beef, a red meat that is lower in cholesterol and fat than chicken or fish and 25% higher in protein than other red meats. This breed of cattle is well adapted to our harsh winters (5000 foot elevation). They have extremely thick hides and two layers of hair, a very long outer layer and a much softer fleece for an inner layer, which protects them from the elements and allows their meat to naturally marble rather than storing fat like other breeds to keep them warm. I have read they compare to caribou when it comes to winter tolerance. The meat is incredibly tasty; we have eaten 2 inch thick steaks out of a 7-year-old bull that, after tenderizing for 45 minutes, was as good as any steak ever eaten. The burger is lean, yet succulent when prepared properly. We have found these cattle to be very intelligent and docile, not to mention uniquely attractive (great pasture paint). I will direct you to research articles that I have found, rather than me trying to reword things that have already been well documented.
At the American Highland Cattle Association site you can find a plethora of excellent articles on the attributes of Scottish Highland cattle. A good starting point is the history of the association (AHCA History) or the history of the breed of cattle (Breed History).
Wikipedia also has some interesting facts for your reading pleasure.
And of course, don’t forget good old “Google.” Pull up a chair, grab a cup, and enjoy your journey of learning about these fantastic animals.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with the results of some university studies in tabular and graphic form that back up our claims to the attributes of this very tasty alternative to traditional commercial red meat.