Longhorn cattle - the breed

A brief introduction to the Longhorn breed:

Character: Generally docile and responsive, the bulls are acknowledged as being quiet. Longhorns can be easily used to graze areas of land with public access such as footpaths.

Appearance: They are one of the largest and heaviest of the British native breeds. Their coats vary from pale roan to dark brindle, but always have a white stripe along the back and a white patch on their flank. They also have long, sweeping horns.

Grazing: They will, like many native breeds, graze a very varied diet, which means they are good for weed control. This helps to prevent meadowland from being taken over by aggressive plants and allows smaller, less dominant plants to thrive. They are physically strong and hardy too, which means they will break through and trample down scrub, brambles and even overgrown waterways.

The important bit, a description of the beef:

Longhorn is widely recognised to be the tastiest beef (not just by John Torode – Country Life magazine voted Longhorn as Britain’s best steak!). Even better, slow maturing native breeds which have a varied diet, produce meat which is scientifically proven to be healthier.

A study by Bristol University has shown that traditional breeds reared on pastures with a rich biodiversity of plants and grasses have lower levels of saturated fat and contain more antioxidants than beef produced by cattle reared intensively. The trial investigated the performance of traditional breeds reared on "unimproved" pastures to assess the quality of the beef produced - including taste - compared with that from intensively reared Charolais crosses. Dr Ian Richardson, a senior research fellow at Bristol University, said the trial found traditional breeds reared on unimproved pasture produced beef of a "high nutritional value".

"In the "blind" tasting trial involving 17 families it was found there was a clear preference for the beef produced from traditional breeds reared on biodiverse pasture compared beef from younger, continental crosses reared intensively."

Longhorn beef is generally very lean, but has excellent marbling throughout which disperses fat evenly through the meat, heightening the flavour and giving this beef its famous 'melt in the mouth' quality.