McLaughlin Farm Cattle

McLaughlin Farm raises Highland Cattle and Highland Crosses. Many of the pure bred Highlands are registered with the American Highland Cattle Association (“AHCA”) which is the breed association in the United States that maintains the American Highland Cattle Herd Book. In addition, AHCA maintains a registry for Highland Crossbred animals known as Sovereigns. McLaughlin Farm has several registered Sovereigns, as well as Highland crosses that do not qualify as Sovereigns because they either have too much or too little Highland blood. McLaughlin Farm does not sell breeding stock, so many of its animals are unregistered.


Old photo of Highland Cattle

The History of Highland Cattle

Highland cattle, often called Scottish Highlanders, always draw a crowd. They are picturesque animals easily identified by long forelocks, curved horns, and distinctive eyelashes. Colors are red, black, dun (brown), white, silver, and yellow. Highland cattle are quiet, gentle, and easily halter-trained, making them ideal as pets or show animals.

Thriving more than a thousand years in the rugged remote highlands of Scotland before coming to the United States, these cattle enjoy cold weather and snow without need for much in the way of shelter or feed supplements. Their heavy coat and thick hide insulates them from harsh weather. With the ability to thrive in less than ideal circumstances, outstanding mothering instincts, longevity, and very low calf mortality, they are the type of beef animal in high demand for today’s beef market.

Highland cattle are found throughout North America, as well as in Europe, Australia and South America. They are raised as far north as Alaska and the Scandinavian countries. They also adapt well to warmer climates with successful herds as far south as Texas and Georgia. The Highland breed is well suited for less than ideal pasture land. These cattle are excellent browsers.

Highland beef is ideal for today’s health-conscious consumer. Lean, well marbled and flavorful with little fat, McLaughlin Farm’s Highland cattle are raised naturally on grass without the use of hormonal or artificial growth stimulant implants, steroids or antibiotics. In the British Isles, Highland beef is recognized as the finest available! The British Royal family keeps a large herd of Highland cattle at Balmoral Castle, near Braemar, Scotland.

In 2016 a five year study conducted at the University of Missouri of Highland Beef ended. The study was commissioned by the Highland Cattle Foundation. The beef tested was from pure bred Highland cattle, and were required to be raised and processed in accordance with standards aligned with AHCA’s Quality Highland Beef  (“QHB”) program. McLaughlin Farm participates in the QHB program, and it submitted about 25% of the study’s samples. McLaughlin Farm’s samples were all grass fed and grass finished. Samples from grain finished animals could also be submitted. The most important finding was that despite not being heavily marbled, Highland Beef is very tender. The professor that oversaw the study stated: ” While flavor is a major driver in beef eating satisfaction, tenderness can make or break the repeat purchase.  To this end, our data have shown that Highland beef is very tender according to shear force values.  This tenderness is consistent in cattle up to 30 months of age with a minimum carcass aging of 7 days in the cooler.” 

McLaughlin Farm customers can also attest that grass fed and finished Highland Beef is tender and flavorful, without the extra fat usually associated with “lean beef”! This study shows that leanness is an inherent characteristic of Highland Beef.


Sovereigns are cross bred Highland cattle. For registration purposes these animals must be at least 50% Highland cattle. Either the sire or dame can be the Highland. The other breed can be one of many specified breeds. Common crosses (in the US and Scotland) are with the following breeds: Shorthorn, Angus (Black), Red Angus, Hereford, and Limousin cattle to name a few. McLaughlin Farm uses a Red Angus bull. Red Angus have a good disposition, are known for calving ease (birth a calf without assistance), due well on grass and have very good growth characteristics.

Quality Highland Beef

McLaughlin Farm participates in the American Highland Cattle Association’s  Highland Quality Beef Program (“QHBP”). This program is a voluntary program sponsored by AHCA in order to help it’s members consistently produce a high quality product. Producers that become members of the Quality Highland Beef Program (“QHBP”) certify that beef they market, claiming to be done so pursuant to the QHBP, or which uses the QHBP logos, has been raised and prepared as follows:

1. The animals are purebred or at least one-half Highland: steers, spayed heifers, heifers, cows, bulls.
2. The animals have been raised and handled in a humane manner and in accordance with Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) or similar guidelines.
3. No added hormones, anabolic steroids or sub-therapeutic feed antibiotics have been applied/fed to the animals.
4. Animals in a finishing program will be slaughtered between 14 and 36 months of age.  Surplus or aged animals (greater than 36 Months) will meet the standards of items 1, 2, and 3 herein and will only be eligible for sale as ground or processed (hotdog/sausage etc.) products as well at the Tenderloin.
5. The minimum carcass weight is 450 pounds.
6. Carcasses will be aged a minimum of 14 days or otherwise in accordance with buyer guidelines or requests.
7. Complete health records including vaccinations, inoculations, brands, anti-parasitic, etc. will be kept on all animals marketed as QHB.