The Highland is the oldest registered breed of cattle. The first herd book was established in 1884, but the Highland breed has lived for centuries in the rugged, remote Scottish Highlands. The extremely harsh conditions created a very fit and adaptable breed. Originally there were two distinct classes of Highland. The Kyloe was a slightly smaller, black animal that lived on the islands off the west coast in northern Scotland, while a larger distinctly red animal existed in the remote Highlands of Scotland. Today they are both considered part of the Scottish Highland Breed. Yellow, white, silver, dun, and brindle are colors now seen in the Highland breed in addition to the original red and black. Hardy from exposure to the high rainfall and strong winds of the Scottish Highlands, Highlands seem to enjoy harsh conditions inhospitable to other breeds. Highlands have a double coat of hair consisting of a downy undercoat and a long outer coat which sheds the rain and snow. With the double coat of hair and thick hide, the Highland has been adapted by nature to withstand great exposure. Though they will shed their heavy coat in hot and dry climates, Highlands will grow a new coat when the cold and damp weather returns.
An excellent breed.
Highlands don't require shelter from the cold, feed supplements, or grain to maintain good body condition. They both graze and browse, eating many plants that other breeds of cattle avoid. The Highland will survive on roughage and poor grazing - including brush - under climatic conditions where most other popular breeds would suffer. They are noted for their browsing ability and therefore are well suited to farmsteads where there is an excess of poor pasture and rough land. The Highland's proven ability to produce top quality meat without the addition of expensive high-quality feeds makes this breed the perfect choice for those people who wish to produce beef with natural inputs. Highlands are also resistant to disease. Their long lashes and forelocks, called dossan, protect their eyes from flies and the sun, reducing the incidence of pinkeye and cancer. Being a very even-tempered, docile animal, Highlands are not predisposed to stress-related diseases. Despite the presence of long horns on both cows and bulls, Highlands are very sweet natured, gentle and calm. Their superior intelligence lends them to easy handling and halter training.
Longevity in the fold is also a Highland trait. Cows can calve into their twenties. They have little difficulty in calving, resulting in low mortality rates at birth. Highlands are excellent mothers and have strong maternal instincts. They are quick to respond to their calves and are very effective at defending their calves from predators.
A better beef.
Highland beef is ideally suited to meet the challenges of today's market. Being insulated by hair instead of a thick layer of fat, Highland beef is well marbled and flavorful yet lean and lower in cholesterol than commercially bred beef. Recognized as the finest beef available, the British Royal Family keeps a large fold of Highland cattle at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Highland beef lets you eat like a King or Queen!
* Adapted from the American and Canadian Highland Cattle Associations.