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Grass Fed Beef | Scottish Highland Cattle

Scottish Highland Cattle draw a crowd wherever they are found. Highlands are the oldest bovine recorded in historic texts — going back to the 16th century and originating in the rugged remote islands off the west coast of northern Scotland and the Highlands area. They have an ability to thrive in less than ideal circumstances and rugged terrains, and enjoy longevity, very low calf mortality and have outstanding mothering instincts. Still, they are gentle creatures and even with their magnificent horns, are not inclined to do damage.

The Highland 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. Although the dominant color is red, yellow, dun, white, brindle, black and silver are seen in the breed.

The first Highland herd book was established here in 1884, when American cattlemen from the western U.S. imported them to improve the bloodlines of their herds. As a result, the Highland contributed in a great way to the success of the American cattle industry.

Highlands require little in the way of shelter, feed supplements, or expensive grain to achieve and maintain good condition. Cold weather and snow have little effect on them. They are raised as far north as Alaska and the Scandinavian countries. They also adapt well to more southerly climates with successful herds as far south as Texas and Georgia. These cattle are excellent browsers, able to clear a brush lot with speed and efficiency. Despite long horns and an unusual appearance, Highlands are even-tempered, bulls as well as cows.

Today's consumer prefers lean, premium meat, and the Highland beef is ideally suited to meet this demand. Highland beef is meat that is lean, well marbled and flavorful with little outside waste fat (they are insulated by long hair rather than a thick layer of fat). Highland and Highland crosses have graded in the top of their respective classes at the prestigious National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado. In the British Isles, Highland beef is recognized as the finest available and fetches premium prices. The British Royal family keeps a large herd of Highlands at Balmoral Castle, near Braemar, Scotland, and considers them their beef animal of choice.

- Adapted from the American Highland Cattle Association

About the Highland Cattle at So'Journey Farm

Our Scottish Highland breed is extremely well-suited for grass-fed beef farming here in Greene County in Western Pennsylvania. It requires lesser protein feed, forages among bushes and trees and is adapted to hillier terrain. In many parts of the country, herds of Highland cattle with their large horns are brought into marginal woods to clear them of invasive brush and help restore pasture.

Highland cattle have a rich, beefy taste, and as our cows are entirely grass-fed, their meat is also significantly higher in Omega 3's, Omega 6's, CLA's (conjugated linoleic acids)1, vitamins and minerals.

They are not confined, nor fed hormones, antibiotics or winter hay that was grown with herbicides. Calves are kept with the mother for at least eight months to insure a healthy bond and keep the animals unstressed. The manure they produce is considered a valuable asset to the restoration of fertility to the soil and their innate beauty and even temperament makes them a joy to have around.

Cooking Tips for Grass Fed Beef | Recipes & Some Other Resources

Remember that grass-fed beef is leaner and needs to be cooked at lower temperatures for longer time — "lower and slower" is the motto! Steaks should be cooked only to medium rare and taken off the grill to finish "cooking". Marinading steaks before grilling is always a good idea and here is one of the best marinades: low-sodium Kikkoman's soy sauce, splash of brandy, fresh crushed garlic and a few shakes of oregano

Master Recipe for Roasts

Lay into a heavy roasting pan with a tight-fitting lid: Chuck, round, or shoulder roast. Salt and pepper with whole peppercorns. Slice one medium onion over the meat. Put lid on and put into cold oven, turn heat to 300 and cook for 3 hours, leaving lid on. Turn oven off and let meat cool to the touch before removing.

This is as simple as it gets and produces a rich, perfectly roasted meat that pulls apart and is still moist and tender. This is the basis for all the other recipes below.

Dinner Roast

Serve the meat above with your preferred starch (potatoes or rice or noodles), either thickening the juice to make it into gravy or not as if your preference. You can also put peeled potatoes and carrots, turnips or a few additional onions in with the meat during the last 45 minutes of cooking.

Ethnic Variations:
  • Indian: - add curry or garam masala to the meat along with the salt and pepper.
  • Mexican: - add cumin seed, garlic, oregano and paprika (which are the original ingredients to chili powder), or your favorite chilis, such as poblano, ancho or chipotle.
  • Hungarian: - cut roast into cubes before cooking and reduce total cooking time at least 1/2 hour. Add sliced mushrooms the final 1/2 hour of cooking. Mix sour cream or yogurt into gravy along with paprika and serve over noodles for goulash.


Shred cooled meat and serve in wraps with scrambled eggs, a little green onion and chopped tomatoes.

Dice cooked meat and thicken gravy with a little sour cream or yogurt and serve over toasted English muffins.


Shred meat and serve in wraps with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and provolone cheese. Sliced green peppers and onions, sautéed, are a nice touch.

Shred meat and marinade in olive oil, a touch of mustard, capers, and sliced onions. Use in salads or as a side dish with black beans and rice, avocado, romaine and tomatoes on the side. Squeeze a slice of lemon over the meat before eating.

Here are some other resources for recipes using grass-fed beef and other grass-fed meats as well as some articles on the health benefits of eating grass-fed food products:

The American Grassfed Association | Main Recipe Page:
This website has dozens of wonderful new recipies (like "Grass Fed Flank Steak with Pomegranate-Glaze"), a "recipe of the month" and recipes as well for grassfed buffalo, lamb, goat, pork, poultry and dairy products.

Grassfed Educational Website | Grassfed Beef Recipes:
This website, sponsored in part by the California Food & Fiber Future Grant and the CSU, Chico Agricultural Research Initiative, has recipes ordered by the cut of meat you want to cook (chuck, rib, short loin, tenderloin, sirloin, top Sirloin, bottom sirloin, round, shank, brisket, flank and plate), marinades, tips for cooking grassfed beef and information on food safety and handling.

Eat Wild: Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Products:
This article from EatWild, the #1 site for grass-fed food and facts, extols the many health benefits of eating grass-fed food products and has scientific information on grass-fed food calories, cholesterol, antioxidants, omega-3's (fatty acids), CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and vitamin E.

Union of Concerned Scientists | Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture: How Grass-fed Beef and Milk Contribute to Healthy Eating:
Over the past decade, numerous scientific studies have shown that the meat and milk from pasture-raised animals are higher in fats that may confer health benefits on humans. To confirm how strong the findings are, UCS undertook the first comprehensive comparison of fat levels in beef and dairy products from conventionally raised and pasture-raised animals. Their research study report, Greener Pastures: How Grass-fed Beef and Milk Contribute to Healthy Eating, presents the results of this analysis and Greener Pastures author Dr. Kate Clancy describes the benefits of grass-fed beef and dairy.

Jo Robinson, an investigative journalist and New York Times best-selling writer, is the author of the new book, Pasture Perfect: The Far-Reaching Benefits of Choosing Meat, Eggs, and Dairy Products from Grass-Fed Animals. Robinson is the first to gather all the scientific evidence proving that pastured products are safer and more nutritious. As readers will learn, meat from grass-fed animals is free of hormones, antibiotics and mad cow disease. It is also higher in Vitamin E, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, and the newly discovered cancer-fighting fat called "CLA." Eggs and dairy products from pastured poultry and dairy cows have similar benefits.

Pasture Perfect does more than explain the benefits of pastured products — it also helps you locate, store, and cook them. You will appreciate the 60 pages of recipes that are designed to bring out the tenderness and flavor of this highly nutritious, environmentally friendly food.

Accurate and carefully referenced, Pasture Perfect is the definitive book on this greenest of sustainable agriculture industries.

Some Information About CLA - Conjugated Linoleic Acid

CLA is a newly discovered good fat called "conjugated linoleic acid" that may be a potent cancer fighter. In animal studies, very small amounts of CLA have blocked all three stages of cancer: 1) initiation, 2) promotion, and 3) metastasis. Most anti-cancer agents block only one of these stages. What's more, CLA has slowed the growth of an unusually wide variety of tumors, including cancers of the skin, breast, prostate and colon.

Dale E. Bauman, Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Animal Science at Cornell University and an author of a peer-reviewed research study on CLA's effect on cancer, said "Most dietary substances exhibiting anti-carcinogenic activity are of plant origin and are only present at trace levels. However, CLA is found almost exclusively in animal products and is among the most potent of all naturally occurring anti-carcinogens."

Meat and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of CLA. When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their products contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets.

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