If you find yourself near the J Family-County Open Space property (Southwest corner of 63rd and Oxford) property that the Black Cat farm leases, you might notice two young steers at the farm.
The newest additions to the Black Cat animal kingdom, the steers are Highland cattle. Eric and Jill received them from Frank Silva, who operates Natural Homestead Beef. Highland cattle (known as kyloe in Scots) are a Scottish breed of cattle. Their long wavy coats and horns are distinctive features of the breed. They are known as a hardy breed with their long hair helping protect them from cold during cold Winters.
According to Jill, “We have wanted to raise our own organic beef for a long time, but didn’t have enough land or time. Like all the animals we have introduced to our farm operation, we have started small to make sure it is a good fit. We have always researched the breeds first as well.
We feel ready to give our test steers a try. It is premature to know if we will raise cattle in the future or what breed, but we can envision raising a small herd of cattle.”
Along with hay and grass, the steers will forage on some of the Black Cat farm vegetable fields, too.
Highland cattle graze on plants that many other breeds of cattle avoid. So, they are perfect for fields with the omni-present Canadian thistle. Jill says that they eat the tops off of thistle so that it doesn’t go to seed, which is good news to any farmer.
While the steers eat thistle, as Eric found out, they also chow down on hay.