Scottish Highland Cattle

The Highland breed has lived for centuries in the rugged remote Scottish Highlands. The extremely harsh conditions created a process of natural selection, where only the fittest and most adaptable animals survived to carry on the breed.
Originally there were two distinct classes: the slightly smaller and usually black Kyloe, whose primary domain was the islands off the west coast of northern Scotland; the other, a larger animal generally reddish in color, whose territory was the remote Highlands of Scotland. Today both of these strains are regarded as one breed-the Highland. In addition to the red and black of the original strains, yellow, dun and silver-white are also considered traditional colors.

This “Grande Old Breed” can be traced to the first herd book being published in 1885 by the Highland Cattle Society in Scotland. Archaeological evidence of the Highland breed goes back to the sixth century, with written records existing from the twelfth century. The first recorded importation into the United States occurred in the late 1890’s when western cattlemen recognized the need to improve the hardiness of their herds. Earlier importations are likely to have occurred since large numbers of Scotch/Irish immigrants came to this country early on but the absence of a registry precludes any definite proof.

Highlands require little in the way of shelter, feed supplements, or expensive grains to achieve and maintain good condition and fitness. In fact, Highland cattle seem to enjoy conditions in which many other breeds would perish. Cold weather and snow have little effect on them. They have been raised as far north as Alaska and the Scandinavian countries. They also adapt well to the more southerly climates with successful herds as far south as Texas and Georgia. Less than ideal pasture or range land is another reason to consider the Highland breed. It has been said that the Highland will eat what other cattle pass by . . . and get fat on it! The Highland is also an excellent browser, able to clear a brush lot with speed and efficiency.

Despite long horns and unusual appearance, the Highland is considered an even-tempered animal - bulls as well as cows. They can also be halter trained as easily as any other breed, even more so because of the Highland's superior intelligence.

The cross Highland cow has the inherent hardiness of the pure Highlander, plus that vital ingredient - "hybrid vigor". The cross Highlander has the milk to rear the continental calf with the high beefing potential demanded by today's market.  Both the pure Highlander and the first cross Highlander retain the ability to convert poor hill grazings into quality beef carcasses.

The business end of any beef animal is the amount and quality of the beef it produces.  Highland beef is well marbled and flavorful, with little outside waste fat.  The Highland is insulated by a double coat of hair (a downy undercoat and long topcoat) rather than a thick layer of fat. For over 20 years, Highland and Highland cross bred steers graded in the top of their respective classes at the prestigious National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado. In the British Isles, Highland beef is recognized as the finest available and fetches premium prices. The British Royal family keeps a large herd of Highlands at Balmoral Castle, near Braemar, Scotland.

Today's cattle market is demanding. Small farms and and large ranches have the same objective - produce a fine cut of beef with as little effort and expense as possible. Highlands are the breed to help you do this.

Calving Ease:
Highland cows are noted for calving ease. With average calf weights of 65 lbs for females and 70 lbs for males, calving difficulty (dystocia) is uncommon.