These majestic animals have big personalities for such small legs. If you are looking for a first time dual purpose cow or just a beef animal this is it. They are a Scottish breed that is hardy in the coldest and harshest of climates. This does well for us here as the winters here commonly gets below -50C.
These guys are most noted for their long horns and their long hair. Their beautiful long coats come in black, brindle, blonde, dun, light red, dark red, white, and silver. They can not be spotted in color. I have seen references of people using the hair and spinning it to make clothing and craft items. Also of using the hides as rugs or for leather.
Their magnificent horns grow through out their lives. The older cows will have the longest horns as they can have 20+ years of growth. They use their horns to protect their young from predators, clear brush and dead fall, and to set up a ranking within the herd.
They are legendary in their ease of calving. In all the years we have had highlands, we have only had to pull a calf from a highland once. They have one of the longest reproductive lifespans averaging 18 yrs. When they have young they will form a loose circle and have the calves in the center. While they sleep there is always one that is awake and watching out for the rest. When they are grazing there is the "babysitter" that stays with the young. They are also really good at hiding their young and you will almost step on them before you see them in the brush. The calves are the shaggiest little things. Weights averaging around 60 pounds.
Highlands are well adapted to being raised on pastures. They do well on grasses and hay and have been known to eat leaves and buds off the trees. They are good grazers and at times seem to resemble a deer in eating habits more then a cow. This constant movement combined with their thick skin give them the ability to put their fat into their meat instead of having a layer over the muscle to stay warm. Due to this they have a very lean, well marbled meat. Although they are known for surviving on poor pasture and bad brush, they do best with a good quality feed.
The bulls weigh about 1,800 lbs at maturity and the cows are about 1,100 lbs. Steers are finished off around 1,000 lbs and usually grown on pasture until 2+ yrs old. This approach allows us to raise the steers purely on grass and hay and not have to feed any grain or pellets.
They can be halter broke and lead, milked, and shown. This is a very versatile cow and with their laid back attitude, good for a first timer. Just remember, they are still cattle, and like any other cattle, can be spooked and care should always be taken with them.
At this time we are changing our herd around. All of our highlands are very calm and will come up when called. However, they are not halter broke. Our children and livestock guardian dogs walk out in the pasture with us and have no problems with them. We will not except any animal here on our farm that is aggressive.
Please click on a link below. It will open in a new window for you to see the photos. Thank you!