American Highland Cattle Association celebrates 75 years

The celebration will take place in South Dakota
calendar icon 12 May 2023
clock icon 3 minute read

The American Highland Cattle Association (AHCA) will celebrate its 75th Anniversary gathering in South Dakota, June 16-17, 2023. Highland cattle breeders representing hundreds of farms and ranches from across the country will attend the annual conference, which is the nation’s premier networking and educational event for the revered and unique Highland breed.

Founded at the Double X Ranch in Belvidere, South Dakota in 1948, AHCA has the only globally recognized American Highland herd book. With 75 years of cattle registrations, the book has direct connections to every other leading Highland cattle organization in the world.

“There wouldn’t be any true Highlands in the United States if it wasn’t for AHCA,” notes AHCA 75th Anniversary Gathering Chairperson Tom McConnell. “We owe our gratitude to the association’s founding members for having the foresight to keep our nation’s Highland cattle traceable back to the herd book in Scotland, which dates all the way back to 1885.”

Thanks to their attractive physique and high quality beef, Highland cattle have become quite popular in the United States. AHCA President Josh Krenz says having more than 2,000 members and nearly 65,000 registered full-blood Highlands is a testament to the organization’s strength and stability.

“They are traditionally known for being docile and they have high quality meat that is low in fat and low in cholesterol,” Krenz said. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg – or the horn – to explain the Highlands’ popularity. They are excellent mothers – even first-calf heifers have a strong mothering instinct. They also are easy calvers. While Highlands use the horns for protection and are very adept at using them, they are for the most part a docile breed, with 79% scoring as “exceptionally calm” or “calm” when handled, according to the Highland Performance Program

Four guest speakers will open the 75th Anniversary Gathering on Friday, June 16, starting with respected Scottish breeder and AHCA Member Angus Mackay, who will present the history of Highland cattle. Other speakers include:

  • Amanda Radke, rancher, author and nationally recognized beef advocate from Mitchell, SD
  • Steve Campbell, ranch consultant/cattle coach from Parma, ID
  • Wally Congdon, rancher and AHCA member from Missoula, MT

Saturday, June 17 will consist of several expert-led, interactive roundtable discussions on topics like general cattle health, nutrition and minerals, and beef marketing. The event will also feature a photo and memorabilia display dedicated to three early AHCA members who are also members of the South Dakota Hall of Fame: Gov. Tom Berry, his son Baxter Berry and daughter in-law Lyndall Berry. George Bridge, Sr. will also be recognized in the display for increasing the breed’s exposure; his Highland cattle became well known for pulling covered wagons in events and parades in the 1960s and 70s. The event will conclude with a banquet on Saturday evening.

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