Scottish Breeds of Cattle

Selected Beef Breeds

(The majority of Scotch Beef is traditionally produced from cross-breeds).

Galloway Cattle

Galloways are a hardy breed that originated on the exposed uplands of Galloway in the South West of Scotland. Colours are black, dun, red or belted, with the characteristic white belt encircling the body.

These naturally polled animals are eminently suited for converting rough grazing into lean meat. Their double coat of long outer hair to shed the rain and soft undercoat for warmth eliminate the need for expensive winter housing. The cows are long living and noted for their rich milk, so make good sucklers for rearing calves by terminal sires, as well as being used for pure breeding.

Aberdeen Angus Cattle

Aberdeen-Angus is the fastest growing breed of beef cattle in the British Isles, indeed in the world, which reflects growing consumer demand for quality beef with the guarantee and assurance of quality which only Aberdeen-Angus can offer.

Aberdeen-Angus cattle are easily managed which is an important economic consideration with less labour available on most farms. Advantages include natural polling (hornlessness) which makes for easy calving, regular breeding, good foraging ability, longevity and the ability to produce the highest quality beef naturally on a minimum of concentrate feeding. Aberdeen-Angus cross calves grow quickly and efficiently into highly acceptable quality carcases which meet the modern demand for medium-sized carcases of around 280kg – 320kg.

Shorthorn Cattle

Records of the Beef Shorthorn can be found back to the 18th century. Many of the first notable breeders were farming in the North East of England, and gave rise to the early name of the breed, the Durham. The Beef Shorthorn is registered in the oldest herd book in the world, the first volume being published in 1822. During the 19th century two distinct strains of cattle were bred; one predominantly for milk production and the other concentrating on beef quality. Many of the main Beef Shorthorn herds were developed in Scotland.

The breed is characterised by its colour, and cattle can be a deep red, white, or a mixture of the two, roan. It is a medium to large breed, with a characteristic strength of bone and structural robustness. Despite a period between the 1970′s and the 1990′s when the breed became unfashionable and seriously declined in numbers, the breed is now undergoing a major resurgence.

Highland Cattle

This handsome, hardy, native Scottish breed, typified in appearance by long, flowing hair and majestic, sweeping horns, has a long and distinguished history throughout the world.

On the vast acreages of poor mountain land with high rainfall, Highland cattle excel and thrive where no other cattle breed could exist. Making the most of poor forage, calving outside in all weathers and seldom, if ever, housed they make a real economic contribution to hill and upland areas. Able to withstand extreme weather conditions and to survive naturally and comfortably with no need for extensive feeding of concentrates, the breed also enjoys great longevity.

The unique maternal attributes of the pure Highland cow make her the first choice for the production of commercial hill cows. These can be sired by many different breeds of bull; recently excellent results have been obtained using continental sires. Pure Highland beef is able to command a premium price over other beef due to its fine texture, succulent flavour and healthy eating appeal. It is slow-maturing, producing beef that is lean but well-marbled with low fat and cholesterol levels, whilst remaining rich in protein and taste, criteria increasingly demanded by today’s market.