Agriculture is one of the mainstays of the Orkney Islands and Orkney beef is renowned for it’s tenderness and full flavour.
Cattle in this region need to be quite robust as Orkney summers are short, with temperatures often peaking around 18 or 19 degrees and from October, light is lost from around 3.00pm with sunrise at about 8.30am. Strong winds and driving rain are a feature of the fairly mild winters.
The Aberdeen Angus breed lends itself well to this region, maturing quickly to give a good proportion of fat to lean, with very little bone.
Although you will come across a quantity of pure Aberdeen Angus beef, the breed itself is quite small in stature and herds are often cross bred with Belgain Blue, Charolais, Limousin, Simmental and Beef Shorthorn in order to obtain a larger animal.
The Orkney Islands are also free from BSE and Foot and Mouth disease and the farmers pride themselves in the welfare of their cattle. The agricultural shows are a focus for the islands farming communities, culminating in the prestigious County Show which is held in Kirkwall during August.
Orkney beef cattle will be turned out to graze from May to October, then brought in for the winter, where they are fed on home produced silage.
Orcadians have smoked their meat and fish for many centuries and beef is no exception. There are local butchers who still produce their own Oak smoked beef.
Orkney Livestock Assoc – a farmer led health scheme for Orkney farmers.
Orkney agricultural shows – What’s on diary
Orcadian butchers – Orkney Food Trail.com