The Highland cattle breed has lived for centuries in the rugged remote Scottish Highlands. The extremely harsh conditions created a process of natural selection, where only the fittest and most adaptable animals survived to carry on the breed. The first recorded importation into the United States occurred in the late 1890s when western cattlemen recognized the need to improve the hardiness of their herds. The American Highland Cattle Association (AHCA) registry was formed in 1948.
This moderate framed breed is an excellent browser. They have been used in the US and worldwide to clear brush lots, for Oak Savannah restoration and grazing improvement projects. Highlands perform well in a variety of feed scenarios whether brush, forage/grass based or grain finished.
Highland cattle are hardy and vigorous; calves are up nursing quickly. Calving ease is a reputable trait with average birth weight at 70 lbs. Cows are protective mothers that guard against predators, however, they are a docile breed. The double hair coat allows the animal to marble naturally on low input forage while producing lean, low fat, high quality cuts of beef. They shed out earlier in the spring and produce less hair in a warmer climate. Yet at the same time they can withstand harsh winters making them suitable for a variety of environments. These cattle fit into a variety of operations from the small farm to large commercial beef operations.
Information gathered recently from an email survey sent out to all AHCA members about how the Beef Marketing Committee would best serve their needs, led the Committee to seek out an individual and facility capable of testing and reporting to us scientific, data-driven information about the special qualities of Highland beef. The Beef Marketing Committee in collaboration with the Highland Cattle Foundation is working with Dr. Bryon Wiegand at the University of Missouri. Dr. Wiegand specializes in analysis of fatty acid profile, tenderness and palatability. AHCA will be seeking submission of beef samples to be tested from a wide variety of Highland cattle producers, small and large, grass finished and grain finished, from different geographic regions. We are looking forward to beginning the study and gathering empirical data to confirm that Highland beef is a premium product, second to none in flavor and health benefits.
The Association has recently moved to the Historic City Hall in Brighton, CO. This early circa 1900s building is on the National Register of Historic Places and a great new location for our heritage breed! The area is home to many agri-businesses and has an abundant agricultural base. Brighton encompasses a portion of Weld County, which is the richest agricultural county in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and leads the state in the value of ag products sold.