A highland cow at Mclaughlin Farm

I want to re-post this great Farm Profile for your enjoyment. Read on to learn about our beef source, Mclaughlin Farm, in Jackson, MI.

Here’s what Farmer John has to say:

McLaughlin Farm Ltd. is a family farm run by Cathie and I (John)  McLaughlin. The farm is  located in Jackson, Michigan. The farm  has been in my family since the mid 1930’s. When my grandparents bought the farm it was a working milk farm, in what was then a very rural and undeveloped area south of Jackson. There was no electricity, the road was basically a single lane. My grandmother’s family thought she was nuts! She was a city girl from Adrian and a UofM Nursing School graduate. My grandfather was a doctor.  The farm had been a milk farm and a dairy, but the dairy was moved to another location before my grandparents purchased the farm. They produced milk until the early to mid 1950’s. They had the milk barn and a few out building torn down in the mid 1960’s due to the cost of maintaining them.

Cathie and I purchased the farm in 1980 and have raised cattle since 1981. Originally we raised cattle

Calves on the move

Calves on the move

with the Jackson Area Career Center’s Production Agriculture Department. The relationship lasted about 12 years. During that time they raised a number of different breeds of cattle, primarily Hereford, Angus and Simmental. What we raised was influenced by some of the students as the school received donated cows, semen or the use of bulls. We would match the donations with acquisitions.  Eventually, the herd was sold and sheep were raised for a few years as they were a bit more manageable and easier for inexperienced students to handle. Two breeds of sheep were raised: South Down and Romney. We preferred the Romney breed. The relationship with the Career Center ended in the early 1990’s. During this time we also raised chickens and turkeys for our own use, and we had several horses. In 2000 we bought our first Highlands, at the insistence of our daughter who was then in 9th grade. As her school work and activities quickly intensified the cattle became her parent’s responsibility, but during that time we began to meet other breeders in the Michigan, the midwest, and eventually across the country.

John and Cathie are active in the American Highland Cattle Association. John is involved with various aspects of the organization and was elected Member of the Year in 2010 which was a great honor. The McLaughlin’s participate in various meetings and activities of the association each year, and have also attended one international meeting which was held in Scotland.
Our cattle are grass fed and grass finished. The do not receive hormone supplements or growth drugs, nor do we feed antibiotics. The cattle are raised in the pasture 24/7. The only time our animals are ever brought inside is when there is a medical situation or for calving issues, such as to keep calves out of very muddy conditions. An often asked question is: “How do you feed grass in the winter?” Round bales of hay!  During the summer the cattle are rotationally grazed on our pastures. This requires them to be moved from one paddock to another every day or two. This forces the cattle to eat most of the grasses and legumes in the paddock before they move onto the next area. We try to leave at least 6 inches of plant material behind so that it can regrow quickly. We do not want it to look like a golf course!   We are currently planning to expand our pastures to include land we own across the road from our house and barn which is not currently fenced. Creating a water source is our major obstacle.
We do not have any employees. At times, we do hire some work to be done for us, such as installing new fences. Because there is no infrastructure for the small beef producer to rely on, we are required to handle all of the animal transportation when we purchase animals, take them to the processor, and to pick up and deliver the beef. Our beef is all processed at a family owned USDA inspected plant in Scott’s Michigan, which is in the Kalamazoo area. In Michigan, it is required to have beef processed at a USDA facility in order to sell it by the cut, to a restaurant (or commercial kitchen such as Harvest Kitchen), or at a farmers’ markets. Our processor is a key part of our success as proper handling of the animal and processing the beef is essential for creating our product. Our beef is hung, prior to being cut, in the cooler for two to three weeks. This is known as dry aging, Dry aging  enhances the flavor and helps tenderize the beef. This was a customary process up until 30 years ago.
American flag on the barn at Mclaughlin Farm

American flag on the barn at Mclaughlin Farm

The nature of the area adjacent to our farm has changed a great deal over the years. Our neighbors now include Jackson College and the Jackson Intermediate School District offices and the Jackson Area Career Center. The Dahlem Conservancy (an independent nonprofit) which leases Jackson College property is our neighbor to the west. John is one of the founders of the Conservancy and a past President. These schools create a lot of traffic, especially on weekdays, so it is essential to keep the cattle out of the road and care needs to be taken when  working near or crossing the road. Many people who attend events at Jackson College are familiar with our farm as they often see the cattle in the fields and recognize our barn as it has a large American Flag on the end, facing the road. See pictures on our web site at the link below.

We have a lot of deer in this area which causes a lot of crop damage. We do hunt the deer but never seem to get the herd down to a reasonable level. We are also seeing Coyotes which is concerning, especially for our calves and chickens! We also have a lot of wild Turkeys, Sandhill Cranes, Vultures  and many song birds, including Bluebirds.
Because John and Cathie do essentially all of the work, expansion is relatively slow. The cattle take about 3 1/2 years to raise from conception to processing, so it takes time. We are proud of our product and the fact that our beef is on the menu of several restaurants in the mid Michigan area on a regular basis. We are pleased to with our relationship with Harvest Kitchen, whom we have provided beef for several years!
We currently sell out beef at the Meridian Township Farmers’ Market in Okemos, Michigan each Saturday, May through October. We also maintain a mailing list of customers in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area and deliver pre-ordered beef to customers about once a month. We also sell quarters and bundles. We are currently taking reservations for fall.
Go to  http://www.mclaughlinfarmltd.com for more information about our farm. You will find pictures, recipes and links to other interesting sites.
And, here’s the menu for this week:

Classic Stuffed Peppers with Ground Beef –  Fans have been clamoring for a return of these delicious peppers since last year. This classic recipe is a delicious combination of ground beef, tomato sauce, rice, and plenty of veggies. Gluten free. 1 lb serving $12
Spanikopita with Lamb –  This delicious dish is a perennial HK fan favorite: layers of flaky phyllo dough alternate with creamy cheese and lots of fresh, delicious greens. This non-traditional version includes savory ground lamb in the filling, making it an excellent meal. 1 lb serving $12
Gazpacho – Truly a taste of summer: chilled gazpacho soup is essential for surviving a heat wave.  Ours is crammed with fresh veggies including peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, and more. Overflowing with flavor. Gluten free. Pint $7.50
Caprese Salad –  This world-class flavor combination of fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil needs no introduction from me! Dive in! Gluten free. Pint $8 or Half Pint $5
Salad Mix with House Dressing  — A delicious green salad blend featuring fresh seasonal greens from a variety of local farms, paired with our delicious seasonal salad dressing.  5 oz salad with 4 oz dressing $8

Classic Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers  –  Fans have been clamoring for a return of these delicious peppers since we made them last year. This classic recipe is a delicious combination of sweet peppers, tomato sauce, rice, and plenty of veggies. Gluten free. 1 lb serving $12
Spanikopita  – This delicious dish is a perennial HK fan favorite: layers of flaky phyllo dough alternate with creamy cheese and lots of fresh, delicious greens. This is the more traditional, vegetarian version–it makes an excellent meal. Vegan option available. 1 lb Serving  $12
Gazpacho – Truly a taste of summer: chilled gazpacho soup is essential for surviving a heat wave.  Ours is crammed with fresh veggies including peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, and more. Overflowing with flavor. Gluten free. Pint $7.50
Caprese Salad –  This world-class flavor combination of fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil needs no introduction from me! Dive in! Gluten free. Pint $8 or Half Pint $5
Salad Mix with House Dressing  — A delicious green salad blend featuring fresh seasonal greens from a variety of local farms, paired with our delicious seasonal salad dressing.  5 oz salad with 4 oz dressing $8