The Highland cattle are a breed of cattle form Scotland which are currently raised for meat production. The breed descends from the native cattle of Scotland and it is named for the Highland region.
It was improved and standardized during the 1800s, although the early history of the breed is not well recorded.
The Highland cattle were developed from two types of now-extinct cattle, one reddish and other originally black. The original cattle were brought to Britain by Neolithic farmers.
Improvement of the breed was made through selection alone, and it never had any introductions from other cattle breeds.
The first herdbook for the breed established in 1884, and it is one of the oldest registered breed of cattle. The Highland cattle became well known in England and they were sometimes also called Kyloe cattle.
They were first imported to North America in the 1880s and importations have continued throughout the 1900s.
Today the Highland cattle are found throughout North America as well as in Australia, Europe and South America. Read more information about this cattle breed below.
Highland Cattle Characteristics
Highland cattle are medium sized animals with long wavy coats. They are usually black, red, white, brindle, yellow, silver or dun in color. Both bulls and cows usually have horns, and their horns are of long sized.
Average body height of the Highland cows is about 90-106 cm, and the bulls are typically in the range of 106-120 cm. Average live body weight of the bulls is around 800 kg. And the cows on average weight around 500 kg.
The Highland cattle are a beef cattle breed. Currently they are mainly used for meat production.
The Highland cattle are very active and hardy animals due to their native environment in the Highlands of Scotland. They are very cold hardy animals.
They are excellent grazers and their skill in foraging for food allows them to survive in steep mountain areas where they both graze and eat plants that many other cattle avoid.
They can even dig through the snow with their horns for finding buried plants. These animals have relatively docile temperament and are of good behavior.
The cows are pretty good milkers, excellent mothers and very protective of their young. Milk of the cows is of good quality with a high butterfat content.
Currently the breed is mainly used for meat production. Total number of the animals is increasing gradually. Review full breed of this breed in the following chart.
|Excellent foragers, good milk quality, calm temperament, well adapted to native climates, good for meat
|Around 800 kg
|Around 500 kg
|Usually black, red, white, brindle, yellow, silver or dun
|Country/Place of Origin
Highland Cattle Facts
Here we are listing the most interesting facts about Highland cattle:
- Highland cattle originated in Scotland, and are one of the oldest breeds of cattle in the world.
- They are a hardy breed that can withstand harsh weather conditions and difficult terrain, making them well-suited for rugged, mountainous regions.
- Highland cattle are known for their long, shaggy hair, which is made up of two layers: a dense undercoat for insulation and an outer coat of long, coarse hair for protection.
- Their hair can be a variety of colors, including black, brown, red, and yellow, and is often described as “wavy” or “curly.”
- Highland cattle are a large breed, with bulls weighing up to 1,800 pounds and cows weighing up to 1,200 pounds.
- They are slow to mature, with cows not reaching full maturity until around three years of age, and bulls not reaching maturity until around five years of age.
- Highland cattle are known for their gentle temperament, and are often used in petting zoos or as therapy animals.
- They are raised for their meat, which is lean and flavorful, with a distinctive taste that is prized by many gourmet chefs.
- Highland cattle are also raised for their milk, which is rich and creamy and is used to make cheese, butter, and other dairy products.
- Their hides are prized for their durability and are used to make high-quality leather goods.
- Highland cattle have long, curved horns that can grow up to three feet in length. Both males and females have horns, with males typically having larger and more curved horns.
- The horns of Highland cattle are used for defense against predators and for establishing dominance within a herd.
- Highland cattle have a unique digestive system that allows them to extract nutrients from tough, fibrous vegetation. They are able to graze on rough terrain where other cattle cannot survive.
- They are able to adapt to a variety of diets and are not picky eaters, making them relatively easy to care for.
- Highland cattle are a slow-growing breed, which means they require less feed than other breeds of cattle.
- They are known for their maternal instincts, and are excellent mothers who are able to raise healthy, strong calves.
- Highland cattle have a long lifespan, with some individuals living up to 20 years.
- They are an important part of the cultural history of Scotland, and are often featured in Scottish folklore and literature.
- Highland cattle have a distinctive, rolling gait that is caused by their long hair and unique bone structure.
- They are often used in conservation programs to preserve rare and endangered breeds of livestock.
- Highland cattle are an environmentally friendly breed, as they are able to graze on marginal land and do not require high inputs of feed or antibiotics.
- Highland cattle are well-suited for organic farming practices, as they are hardy and can thrive on natural, pasture-based diets.
- They have a loyal and dedicated fanbase among farmers, livestock enthusiasts, and animal lovers around the world.
Tips for Raising Highland Cattle
If you’re thinking about raising Highland cattle, here are some best tips to help you get started:
- Start with healthy, high-quality breeding stock. Look for reputable breeders who can provide you with healthy, registered animals that are free of genetic defects.
- Provide ample space for your cattle to roam. Highland cattle are active and curious animals that need room to graze and explore. A pasture of at least one acre per cow is recommended.
- Build sturdy, predator-proof fencing. Highland cattle are vulnerable to predators such as coyotes, wolves, and bears, so it’s important to build a fence that can keep them safe.
- Provide ample shelter. Your cattle will need a shelter to protect them from the elements, such as wind, rain, and extreme heat or cold.
- Ensure access to fresh, clean water. Your cattle will need a constant supply of fresh, clean water to stay healthy and hydrated.
- Provide high-quality hay and forage. Highland cattle are herbivores that thrive on a diet of high-quality hay and forage. Make sure to provide a variety of grasses and legumes to ensure a balanced diet.
- Supplement with grain if necessary. If your pasture or hay is low in nutrients, you may need to supplement your cattle’s diet with grain. Consult with a veterinarian or nutritionist to determine the appropriate amount and type of grain to feed.
- Monitor your cattle’s weight and body condition. Keep track of your cattle’s weight and body condition to ensure they are healthy and not over or underweight.
- Keep your cattle’s hooves trimmed. Regular hoof trimming is important to prevent lameness and other foot-related issues.
- Provide regular veterinary care. Regular veterinary care, including vaccinations and parasite control, is crucial to keeping your cattle healthy.
- Practice good biosecurity. Prevent the spread of disease by practicing good biosecurity, such as quarantining new animals, cleaning and disinfecting equipment, and limiting visitor access.
- Practice good hygiene. Keep your cattle’s living area clean and dry to prevent the spread of disease and parasites.
- Use natural and organic pest control methods. Avoid using harsh chemicals and pesticides on your cattle and pasture, and instead use natural methods such as beneficial insects and companion planting.
- Provide enrichment activities. Keep your cattle stimulated and engaged by providing them with toys, puzzles, and other enrichment activities.
- Practice humane handling and restraint. Handle your cattle gently and use humane restraint methods to minimize stress and prevent injury.
- Monitor for signs of illness or injury. Keep a close eye on your cattle for any signs of illness or injury, such as lameness, lethargy, or loss of appetite.
- Maintain good records. Keep detailed records of your cattle’s health, breeding, and other important information to help you make informed management decisions.
- Consider joining a breed association or club. Joining a breed association or club can provide you with valuable resources and support, as well as opportunities to connect with other breeders and enthusiasts.
- Attend educational events and workshops. Attend educational events and workshops to learn more about cattle husbandry, breeding, and other related topics.
- Consider marketing your cattle’s products. If you’re breeding for meat or milk, consider marketing your cattle’s products to local markets, restaurants, or dairy processors.
- Be prepared for calving season. Prepare for calving season by providing a clean and comfortable birthing area, and having supplies on hand for any emergencies.
- Practice responsible breeding. If you’re breeding Highland cattle, practice responsible breeding by only breeding healthy, high-quality animals and avoiding inbreeding.
- Take the time to enjoy your cattle. Raising Highland cattle can be a lot of work, but it’s also a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Take the time to appreciate and enjoy your cattle, and the unique relationship you’ll develop with these fascinating animals.