native Scotland, the fundamental purpose of Highland cattle throughout the past
seven centuries has been that of a beef producing animal. However, in recent
years, Highlands have maintained their popularity primarily due to their unique
looks and distinctive personalities. Still, the versatility of Highland cattle
has been well-known by their breeders for years. Their adaptability to adverse
grazing conditions has made them an attractive beef animal to raise in harsh
environments around the world.
Over the past
thirty years, it has been the “hobby farmer” that has been the primary driving
force behind the proliferation of Highland cattle in the United States. Now
that there are over a thousand folds of Highlands in the U.S. alone, this breed
must be redirected towards the beef industry in order to experience continued
growth of market share. The Quality Highland Beef Program (QHBP) is designed to
support this market share growth by assisting producers in developing local
beef markets which in turn, underpin demand for the purebred animal.
The QHBP is a
national promotional campaign that is available to individual breeders who market
their beef on a local basis. We have combined this promotion with guidelines
that create a natural product that is consistent and high quality beef product. The advantages
for the individual breeder go far beyond selling beef; they also include
reducing the number of marginal bulls and demonstrating to other potential
breeders that Highland cattle are beef animals with more than just a “pretty
important aspect of the QHBP is the contract agreement that breeders are
required to sign, guaranteeing their desire to follow the product quality
guidelines that will ensure a certain consistency of Highland beef produced
from California to Maine.
certifies that any beef marketed by him or her under the Quality Highland Beef
Program (QHBP) has been raised and finished in accordance with the
recommendations and guidelines provided by the American Highland Cattle Association
and as outlined below. The producer maintains full responsibility for the
product and for the interpretation and application of the Association’s
certifies that any beef marketed by him or her and which uses the QHBP logos,
etc. has been raised and prepared as follows:
animals are purebred or at least one-half Highland: steers, spayed
heifers, heifers, cows, bulls.
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.
in a finish 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:
Tenderloin, ground beef or processed (hotdog/sausage etc.) products.
minimum carcass weight is 450 pounds.
will be aged a minimum of 14 days or otherwise in accordance with buyer
guidelines or requests.
7. That the beef product is natural and does not contain any
artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, or chemical preservative,
or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient; and that the product and its
ingredients are not more than minimally processed. (Minimal processing may
include: (a) those traditional processes processes used to make food edible or
to preserve it or make it safe for human consumption, e.g. smoking, roasting,
freezing, drying, and fermenting, or (b) those physical processes which do not
fundamentally alter the raw product and/or which only separate a whole, intact
food into components parts, e.g. grinding meat.
health records including vaccinations, inoculations, brands, anti-parasitic,
etc. will be kept on all animals marketed as QHB.
will retain the QHB Committee to direct, along with the AHCA Board, the
allocation of funds raised for further development of the QHB program and its
Animals sold as open should not be bred and animals sold as steers should be
collected pursuant to QHB Membership shall be utilized by AHCA for research and
promotion of Quality Highland Beef and related products. This may include
animal research, diet research for stock, product prep and related activities.
Funds that are co-opted with other monies are encouraged
12.The QHB contract shall automatically renew upon the producer’s payment
of it’s QHB dues each year. Producer
shall agree in the contract that said automatic renewal of said contract
shall be under the latest terms and
conditions, as approved and adopted by
the Board of Directors of AHCA. Said producer may request a copy of said
contract prior to paying said dues or review it on the AHCA web site. Payment
of said dues creates a presumption that producer has reviewed the QHB Policy
and Contract and agrees to abide by them.
There are a
variety of feeding programs that will allow breeders to meet the conditions of
the QHBP agreement. A great deal will depend on where the Highland cattle are
being raised and under what conditions. It is not the intention of the QHBP to
micro-manage the feeding programs of Highland breeders. It is assumed that
producers will use the most economical and readily available feed resources in
important link in the QHBP is you, the producer. Your management and production
skills will determine the quality and wholesomeness of the beef you raise. AHCA
has provided a set of guidelines, an outline, within which you will produce
Quality Highland Beef (QHB). It is your job to uphold these guidelines and
produce the finest beef available.
production can sometimes be more of an art than a science. Knowing which
management practices to utilize or when an animal is finished just right is
often a skill that cannot be taught. However, there are certain practices you
can follow to help ensure an excellent well-finished product. Below is a short
list of tips and suggestions to help you in producing QHB.
Breeding – Here, the most important thing to remember is to use high-quality
Calving to weaning – This is a good time to select your prospects for the QHBP.
As a purebred producer you might, for example, plan to keep the top 10-20% of
your bull calves as herdsire prospects and market the remainder as QHB.
Remember, any animal that is to end up as QHB may not be given any growth
hormones or stimulants at any point during its life! At this time, those bull
calves that are not kept as breeding stock should be castrated. While
castration may be done to older cattle as well, increased stress and weight
loss may result. At weaning, calves should be wormed and vaccinated. Check with
your local veterinarian for an appropriate health care schedule suitable for
your area. Finally, be careful when giving injections to your cattle. Improper
handling and administration of injections can cause lesions and scarring that
will affect quality of the meat. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has
worked hard through its Beef Quality Assurance Program to develop and promote
proper injection procedures. Contact your state or local cattlemen’s
organization for more information.
Weaning to finishing – During this time, it is important to first determine the
desired age and weight of your animals at finishing. Some animals will,
of course, need to be heavier. A very general rule of thumb is that a steer
will be finished at its dam’s weight, however, this can vary. Smaller framed
cattle should finish in the 900-1000 lb. range while larger frames will be
heavier. The time frame will depend on your philosophies, available feed and
the animal’s ability to gain. Once you have determined these factors, make sure
the animal’s nutritional needs are met. Extension agents and feed /mineral
dealers are good sources to help you select an economical,
nutritionally-balanced program. Also, maintain and thoroughly document a proper
herd health program to ensure performance.
Finishing – When your animal is within 100-200 lbs. of the desired slaughter
weight, it is time to “finish” it. Finish is to help ensure a degree of
marbling and finish to the beef. Marbling adds flavor and juiciness to the
meat. A small amount of external finish is necessary to enable the carcass to
hang. Make sure you either weigh your cattle periodically or have your
feedstuffs tested to make sure the animals are able to gain the required
amount. In the end, the animal will appear fleshy and the brisket should be
filling out. Unfortunately, determining when cattle are finished is one of the
aforementioned arts. It is not the purpose of this program to dictate how you
finish your cattle. Producers must decide what system works for them based on
available feeds, etc. Below are some methods already in use:
pasture. Cattle can gain over 2 lbs. per day on good quality grass, legume,
annual or a combination of such pasture systems. Some producers and consumers
prefer forage fed beef. External fat on grass fed carcasses can have a
yellowish tint which does not affect the flavor. In some areas of the country
this can be a seasonal product that coexists with the flush of fall and spring
1-10 lbs. grain. This system works well particularly with poorer quality
pasture. The supplemental grain changes the yellow fat to white. This system
requires more time and management.
hay plus 1-20 lbs. of grain. Unless you have extremely high quality hay, this
alone will not give you the required gains. Supplementing with grain or silage
- Free choice
corn silage plus limited hay.
Slaughtering and packing – Here, years of hard work directed towards the
production of a high-quality product can be wasted with poor procedures. A good
idea to prevent this is to first investigate the plant that you are planning to
use. Is it state and/or federally inspected? Will they hang your carcass for
the required time? Will they cut and wrap the meat well and to your or the
buyer’s specifications? When you are satisfied, make your appointment to drop
off your cattle. Make sure the loading and hauling process is as easy and
stress free as possible. If an animal is frightened, has been chased all over
the pasture, etc., the quality of the meat will suffer.
the key to good management. Good management is the key to producing great beef.
Utilize available resources, extension agents, feed experts, other producers
and cattle organizations to learn as much as possible.
There are a
variety of ways in which Highland beef producers can sell their product,
ranging from carcass to boxed beef. The QHBP provides marketing tools, which
include 3” peel-off sticker logos, meat cut posters and brochures. These can be
purchased from AHCA for a nominal fee plus postage. The 3” peel-off sticker
logos are designed to be used on individual meat packages and/or point of
purchase displays. The posters and brochures can also be used in displays or
given to potential customers. Your only limitation in marketing is your own
was updated by the Board of Directors on June 17, 2016 and all changes are
Click here for the QHB Contract