Beef farming is a highly significant agricultural sector in Scotland, it accounts for about a quarter of the total value of agricultural gross output.
There are over 500,000 breeding beef cows and heifers in Scotland. Beef cattle farming takes place on over 9,500 holdings. Some beef farms have their own breeding cows and produce calves each year, which may then be sold as ‘stores’ at around six to twelve months.
Beef production in the Small Isles, is the production of Store cattle, with cows calving in the Spring, and the calves being weaned and sold in September and October. Cows are usually cross bred, mainly xAngus, xLiung, xHighland. Thre are also purebred Highland herds on Canna and Rum. Bulls tend to be Continental for store cattle and traditional (Galloway, Highland, Angus or Luing) for the breeding of herd replacements.
The store system tends to be low input low output, relying on a silage based ration with supplementary protein cake in the winter, with the cows being outwintered on the hill. Summer grazing takes place on the hill and inbye land.