How our cattle are raised

There are a lot of different ways to raise cattle, and when we were working through our thinking about how we’d raise our purebred, registered Scottish Highlands, it evolved into a Natural Ranching Philosophy that probably isn’t new or shockingly unique, but that matters to us and to our livestock.
BlackPowder Cattle Company Scottish Highland Cattle in FieldBlackpowder Scottish Highland Cattle in FieldBlackpowder Cattle Company Scottish Highland Cattle
  • Regenerative grazing - We’ve begun regenerative grazing where our fold grazes a concentrated area of pasture for a day or so and then is moved on to the next grazing area while the prior area is left alone until it’s fully recovered. We believe this will help regenerate the soil and continuously improve the quality of our pastures. This is a new project for us and we’ll keep you up to date on how it progresses.
  • Late spring pasture calving - We set the breeding period so that our Highlands calve in the late spring. When calves hit the ground in warmer weather when there is already healthy green forage ready, everyone seems to put on weight faster and stay healthier. We let them calve in a controlled pasture where we can keep an eye on things, but they can calve the way they have for thousands of years.
  • Fence weaned - We fence-wean our calves so that it’s more gentle and calm, and don’t start that process until 7 months to help give them that extra boost of momma’s care. 
  • Grass fed - Grass. It’s what Highlands do best. They eat grass and become healthier and healthier. Good grass and good water are the key, and that’s why our cattle are grass fed until winter.  And then they get, you guessed it, more grass from hay cut from that year. All they need and want is grass. Our vet was recently commenting on how well the cattle were putting on weight, and it’s all from grass.
  • Low stress - Everyone does better when there’s less stress - people and livestock alike. That’s why we worked to design our pastures, water systems, cattle handling and ongoing interactions to be low stress. It lets us all be happier.
  • Lots of human interaction - We like to interact with our cattle so that they’re used to being handled, aren’t skittish, and are calm when people approach. We don’t treat them like pets because they aren’t pets, they’re our livestock. But our fold isn’t threatened by people so their behaviour is more docile and predictable.
  • Medicate only as needed - We don’t introduce additives that aren’t required. If one of our cattle needs treatment, we make sure they get it. At the same, we don’t use prophylactic antibiotics, growth hormones or other inputs that just aren’t necessary; because they aren’t necessary.
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