Ancient breed thrives on Moschell Farm at Fedora

Wooly calves look like little lambs with teddy bear's ears

Connie Sieh Groop
Special to the Farm Forum

If you’ve driven near Fedora, you may take a second look when you see an ancient breed of cattle grazing in the pastures.

These Scottish Highland Cattle at Moschell Farms draw a lot of attention, both because of their wooly appearance and their tasty meat.

“I love everything about them,” Lynette Forth said, regarding the cattle. “Gary (Moschell) and I made a conscious decision not to use any hormones or antibiotics. This is also why we choose to grass-feed, and grass-finish all our beef. This allows them to experience immune-boosting effects, with a healthier heart, fewer tumors, lower blood pressure, long life and a host of other additional health benefits.”

This Scottish Highland bull named Loverboy’s weighs around 1,400 pounds. His horn span is estimated at 45 inches. Courtesy photo

Lynette sells the meat to private customers and sells a lot of breeding stock.

“Once you taste the meat (of the Highland cattle,) you’ll never go back,” she said. “It’s a heritage breed and tastes like the best beef you’ve had in your life. When processing, you need to make sure that the butcher doesn’t add any additional beef fat to it.

“Their long hair coat replaces the thick layer of fat found on most other breeds. Since it is leaner than grain-finished beef, it should be handled slightly different during cooking. The slower the beef is cooked, the more it will retain its tenderness and flavor. The lower fat content requires lower cooking temperatures.”

She shares her recipes in a brochure and on Facebook, selling the meat under the name of Moschell Farms.

When you have horns like the Highland cattle, romance takes careful planning. Here Loverboy is romancing Scarlett at Moschell Farms. Courtesy photo

“I’d heard about the Scottish Highland breed. Gary and I went to get one calf when we saw some for sale," she explains. "We ended up bringing home the fold. (Highland animals in a group are deemed a fold.) Now we have close to 100.”

She has shared her life with Gary for the last 18 years. With his support and the great pastures, the animals thrive. They brought home their Highland animals in 2007 and began selling meat in 2009.

“Gary was an expert in the conventional way of feeding cattle," she said. "Together, we learned a newer, gentler, more humane way of handling and feeding. It takes an extra year to get them to market size but the health benefits to the cattle and for the customers that consume it are worth it. That’s what motivates me.”

Gary Moschell checks out the cattle with the help of their dog, Jax. Courtesy photo

Scottish Highland cattle are distinctive with their long horns and long, wavy, woolly coats that can be red, ginger, black, dun, yellow, white, grey or tan.

The appearance of the animals comes from having two coats of hair. They have a thick layer of long hair, which replaces the fat found in many other breeds of cattle resulting in the beef containing far less fat than average cow beef. Their overhair is a different color and that sheds in the summer. The overhair color may remain on the ridge down their back and their bangs.

Because of their horns, they sometimes cannot be shown at fairs.

Lynette loves to brush the animals and says each one has their own personalities. The bottle babies get lead trained and get in on the brushing their first season.

Each spring, Lynette Forth has a number of baby Highland calves to feed. Her dog Jax likes to help. Courtesy photo

Lynette said one dominant mom who wouldn’t let Gary or Lynette brush her, pushed all other babies aside so her calf could be first in line when they came with the brush. She uses a horse brush and some horsehair conditioner on some knots. She’s found that an old street sweeper brush mounted on a pole in the pasture works well for those who like self-grooming.

She gets many calls from people wanting to stop out and see the Highland. The hair sometimes gives a distorted impression of their size.

They aren’t a miniature breed like Dexters or Lowlines. A good cow will weigh 1,000 lbs. and a bull, 1,500 lbs.

Coming from the Scottish highlands, the animals do well in the pasture in the wintertime.

“This spring and summer have been challenging with lots of excess water," Lynette said. "They calve in March. This past March was so nasty, I had seven babies in the house. It was a lot of work to keep up with them but they are as sweet as they can be.”

Because of conditions this spring, Lynette Forth bottle-fed seven Highland calves this spring. Courtesy photo

With a chuckle, she said, “I did spend a lot of time washing down walls, as the baby Highland like to use their tails as a poop paintbrush.”

Babies are born around 30 lbs. and look like little lambs with a teddy bear's ears. They are sometimes hard to bottle feed and they each need two bottles a day.

Lynette said the animals are mostly docile when handled every day.

“Some will raise their chin and get a look in their eyes that means, ‘don’t mess with me.’ I’ve never had one that tried to horn me. Some may swat at you with their horns, but they are really cool. We handle them often and give them horse treats so they eat out of our hands. They are the best.”

Showing these Highland cows, calves and bulls delights Lynette. People are welcome to stop out to see the animals.

A lineup of the bottles Lynette Forth used this spring. Courtesy photo

Find Moschell Farms on Facebook:

Contact Lynette:605-527-2534.