In the recent years, I have done a ton of research on the best cattle for shtf. I have a couple of priorities that stick out the most when choosing these breeds. They must be cattle that are optimal for tough living conditions, and that means cows that can make it on their own without needing feed, perfect weather, and premier grass to eat. In my mind, the best cow is the one that requires the least maintenance, is the cheapest to raise, and tastes the best. Now personally I like leaner meat and I believe most cows have way too much fat and I prefer the leaner cuts. So when picking the cows, I wanted to make sure they were not only hardy, but also need to be a lean meat that was really tasty.
There are several breeds to choose from that fit the bill for a long term SHTF scenario and the three top cows I came up for the best cattle for shtf included: The Scottish Highlander, Texas Longhorns, and Corriente’s. These cows are known to be the toughest of all the American breeds and for very good reason. For centuries they have been bred to survive in tough conditions with very little maintenance. They require very little to no feed, other than for training them and moving them where you want.
The Corriente’s are a small framed cow that is very light and agile, that has imposing horns, and are usually very quick on their hoofs. They are the number one breed for roping cows in rodeo’s in the south, because they are such an athletic breed. They also can be quite ornery from reports I have read, so they are the least easy to work with of all the breeds mentioned. This is my least favorite breed of the three even though they are great cows with really lean meat. Very good hot weather breed and shouldn’t be overlooked. These are typically the cheapest of the breeds so you could find some really good deals. But make sure you have a good fence, these can be tougher to keep in than other breeds.
The Texas longhorn is well known for its huge horns and ability to live on really tough land down here in the south. They are a taller breed, with large horns, and tend to be very good cattle. Even though they have imposing horns, many longhorns are known to be quite easy to work with. Very good in hot weather as well. If little shade is available, then this would be my number one pick. In fact, SIGMA has plans to purchase some longhorns as well in the future.
The Scottish Highlander is less well known breed in the US because no to many ranchers use them. But from all my research these are just about the toughest cows you can get. They can live on just about anything and in any weather conditions. They do amazing in cold weather staying in down to -50 degree temps with very little shelter. They also do okay in the heat because they shed their shaggy hair as temp increase. And they grow it back for the cold winters. Because of this shaggy coat, they have to produce less fat to stay warm and this breed produces a very lean meat. This is the preferred meat of choice from the Queen of England, as she has this meat flown in specifically for dinners. It truly is one of the best tasting breeds available. They also have almost no issues with calving due to their frame size and the length of their legs. And don’t let the long hair run you off on the breed, it protects them from flys and bugs better than the other breeds. Plus they tend to not have any of the health issues that most breeds encounter.
Scottish Highlanders require very little work as long as they have enough to eat. And they can live on just about any kind of land. They really love the woods and will clean up brush like no other breed can. Since they are lower to the ground then most cows, they do really well in thick brush. I’ve seen these cows move through brush faster than a deer can and with their big horns they tend to create well worn paths through it. So if you need a cattle breed that will clean up your land or live on just about any pasture imaginable, then I think Scottish highland cows are your best best. Now if you live in very dry and hot regions, I would go with the Texas Longhorn. But all other areas in the US, the Highlander would be my first choice. We raise them here at the SIGMA 3 farm and have been very impressed with the usefulness of the breed. They can also be used as work oxen as well. The breed is extremely docile and works great with people. Just make sure you have a good fence for them, because they will go through fences that aren’t in good condition, especially when they get spooked or stressed. But once they are trained to take feed and come to you, then you won’t have any problems with that. So when you get them, make sure you really get them to warm up to you. Bring them treats and food and they will follow you anywhere.
All in all, I like all 3 breeds but Scottish Highlander is definitely my top choice for the best cattle for shtf, with Texas Longhorn coming in a close second. So for the SIGMA 3 farms we are going to start with the Highlanders and then eventually also purchase some longhorns as well to cross breed to the two for our area. To get the best of both worlds for heat and being able to live in tough conditions. There is a cow breed for almost any situation you are looking for so do some research on these cows and figure out what works best for your area. Don’t rush it and buy the cattle when prices are down and demand is low for beef. That way you ensure you don’t spend to much on the cow and you can use that extra money for the things your cattle will need.