In 2010, I was looking to return home after 15 years away from Tasmania. I wanted room for a pony and fell in love with a piece of land that would not be considered traditional farmland. It is steep, mostly woodland with only 40 percent unimproved native pastures. It’s hot in summer, really cold in winter and windy all year round!
With 220 acres on the side of a hill I soon came to realise I needed more than a pony to help manage the land and started researching suitable beef breeds. Scottish Highland Cattle seemed best suited to my landscape.
I am lucky to live in the picturesque Derwent Valley where my partner and I breed Scottish Highland cattle. Our farm is near the township of Plenty, a small locality in the Derwent Valley in Tasmania.
Our property overlooks the magnificent Derwent River - the view from almost every aspect of the property is soul nourishing and I feel fortunate to be the custodian of this magnificent property. The ‘fold’ (as it is called in Scotland) of up to 100 Highland cattle is a great addition to the landscape!
My off-farm work and lifestyle required a low maintenance breed that didn’t require a lot of inputs. I have a very strong ‘nose to tail’ philosophy and the Highlands offer value-adding potential through their hides, suet, horns etc. We don’t want to waste a thing so every opportunity is taken to achieve this.
The Scottish Highland Cattle are a very distinctive breed with long coats, large horns (some over 150cm across) and short, stocky frames. They are well known as a premium beef breed throughout Europe and produce a well marbled carcass.
We developed Big River Highland Beef https://www.facebook.com/BigRiverHighlandBeef/ in 2012 and due to the slow growing nature of the breed the first beef was ready for market in 2015. We are the only beef producers in Tasmania specialising in this rare breed of cattle and as we don’t slaughter until the animals are at least four years old we are certainly positioned in the artisan/boutique market.
I like to think the cattle take on the full-flavour of the region. I believe that just as wine grapes take on a ‘terroir’ so does our beef. Our customers who recall a time before ‘yearling beef’ became all the rage, say it tastes like the way beef use to taste.