My wife and I wanted to see for ourselves what Scottish Highland were like and have a chance to talk with in person a farmer who raises them to see if all they say about Highlands are true. This is part of our education process to becoming farmers. All the reading of farm books and magazines do not replicate to actually talking to a farmer who is doing what we want to do.
I looked on line and found the American Highlands Cattle Association and they had contact information for their members and we were surprised to find the Royal M Farm owned by Jay Mather was only a 25 minitue drive from our house here in Illinois. I was excited at the prospect of seeing these animals first hand, so I emailed Jay and said we were interested in raising Highlands and if he would care if we came out to see his cattle and have a chance to talk with him. To my surprise Jay emailed me back the same day and was more then happy to show us his cattle and to talk to us. He told me he had a small 5 acre farm with 4 highland cows.
We drove out to his farm and met Jay and he told us his farm now was just a hobbie farm. He grew up farming and his family used to own 160 acre farm just a few miles from his current place. They raised Black Angus cattle and grew corn, soybeans and hay. His current farm had turkeys, chickens and Highland cattle. They turkeys and chickens were a 4-H projects his kids were doing. Jay told me he was part Scotch and him and his family liked going to Highland games and the organizers of the games wanted his highland cattle there for a exibit and was in the process working with the village to allow that to happen for the next games.
Jay said he does rotational grazing and had his pasture area sectioned off, but because of the severe drought we have been experiancing here in Illnois he was already feeding his cattle hay and some corn. He said he feeds the corn out of habit when they used to raise the black Angus cattle, but said you don’t need to, the cattle do just fine on grass and hay alone.
He said he has had the Highlands for only two years and only keeps three animals, but just a week before we got there one of his heifers had a baby bull calf. We were excited to see the new calf.
I have been telling my wife we plan to eat baby beef and she said how can you eat something so cute.
I told her they won’t be this small and cute when we eat them, I can see she wasn’t to sure about it all.
I was kinda surprised to see how big the highlands were, I have read they are built smaller then most of the grain fed breeds, but they looked pretty big to me. When we petted the the baby calf the mother didn’t seem to mind and the little calf was curious about us which I liked. Jay says they don’t get excited too much and they are a pretty docile breed. He did say you still have to respect those horns, the cows have accidently horned him because he wasn’t watching where he was going and they stick out so far.
We really enjoyed our visit to Royal M Farm and talking with Jay, and I am still convinced that Scotish Highland cattle will be right for us. The only thing that concerns me is in the summer time with the high tempretures they have been having in Iowa this year, they don’t do well with heat and humidity. I also wish they didn’t have horns.