Hidden Acres Cattle Co. Is Bullish on Crossbreeding Method

WARREN – Standing in a grassy field where you cannot see another soul all the way to the horizon can be a great place for a business owner to decompress. It also can be great for raising a free-range, crossbred herd of Wagyu and Scottish Highland cattle.

Hidden Acres Cattle Co. is the latest venture of John Thompson, owner of Omega Door Co. for the past 25 years, as well as another door company in Kansas City, the Hidden Oaks Golf Course in Vienna and some commercial rental property.

Watching Peaches, one of his first Scottish Highland cows, and her newest calf emerge from the woods following the herd, Thompson is back to his farming roots.

“I just like seeing them,” Thompson said. “Every year the first calf of spring, I send to my mother. She loves seeing it.”

The 50-cattle herd of purebred Scottish Highland and carefully selected Wagyu cattle, as well as their mixed offspring, are raised without hormones and antibiotics and graze in pastures that have been allowed to grow naturally without pesticides and fertilizers. In the winter, the cattle are supplemented with hay. Some of the 500 acres he has acquired in Warren and Vienna are for the cattle’s grazing, and other fields are for growing the hay, one of the biggest expenses for keeping the herd well-fed and healthy throughout the winter.

Hidden Acres Cattle Co. crossbreeds Wagyu and Scottish Highland cattle.

Thompson, who is originally from central Missouri but has lived in Provo, Utah, Los Angeles and Kansas City before moving here, believes someone from his family has farmed since the time they came to this country. But he returned to it only about 15 years ago when he bought a small herd of Scottish Highland cattle after purchasing some acreage in Lordstown.

Then at a steakhouse he tried the Wagyu steak, which is highly renowned for its marbling and considered a luxury meat.

“Wagyu has the fat in the muscle, and in a normal angus steak the fat is around the muscle,” Thompson said. “It makes them juicy, but I’ve had them where it is just too much. It’s too rich.”

So Thompson decided to take his hearty Scottish Highland cattle, which he describes as a “very lean and very tasty meat,” and breed them with a Wagyu. During Covid, he purchased a Wagyu bull and two Wagyu heifers and added them to the herd. The result, he feels, brings out the best qualities in both breeds.

“I think this turns out just perfect,” Thompson said of the results. “You still have that inner muscular fat, but it’s just not too much.”

Thompson now hopes others in the Mahoning Valley will agree. He has launched hiddenacrescattle.com, which not only explains the ethical, pasture-raised farming methods used to raise the cattle, but shows the cuts of meat available – steaks and brisket, short ribs and ground beef, roasts and even soup bones.

All of Hidden Acre Cattle Co.’s products are USDA stamped for quality. Buyers can purchase products and then pick them up frozen at the golf course.

He is not shipping yet, but plans to do so are in the works. The company could reach customers across the country once there are enough cattle to both sell and maintain the herds.

“That takes time,” Thompson said. “You can’t say we’re going to butcher, but we’re only going to have two a year.”

The herd has been slowly growing. There have been 11 calves born this spring into one of the herds that grazes on the property Thompson calls “The Dream.” The property does not have an address, just a short lane to a gate. Surrounded by woods, it provides an area with little noise, a creek with year-round, fresh running water and acres of grass already greening in the warm spring weather.

“It took this long to get this many cattle – here and in Vienna. If they keep selling good, we will keep those two little heifers and keep growing the herd,” Thompson said, pointing at two of the calves.

Pictured at top: John Thompson, owner of Hidden Acres Cattle Co., pours some treats for his cattle.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.