Highland Cow – A Commercially Important Animal Of Scotland

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The highland cow is a breed of Scotland. It was produced in the Western Islands of Scotland. It has horns and thick hairs. It can adapt to any immoderate conditions in a region. But in the past, the intense conditions made only a few cattle withstand this climate, and by natural selection, these selected cattle remained in the region. It is used to get meat and is also exported to several other countries for shows.

Initially, Highland Cow was classified into two main categories: a Black Kyloe & a smaller one. The red cattle used to live and roam about in the Highlands of Scotland. On the other hand, Black Kyloe, smaller ones, lived on the West Coast of Northern Scotland. But today, these two distinct classes are referred to as only one breed, the Highland. Silvery white, yellow, and dun are also the colors of these cattle, in addition to black and red.

In 1884, the first herd book was published in which these cattle were registered; hence, these are the oldest registered cattle in Scotland. The fun fact about these cattle is that the Western US cattlemen analyzed the qualities of the Highland cattle and tried to put in the blood of their cows. It was successful, which enhanced the success of the American Cattle Industry. Now, the Highland Cows are broadly found in Australia, South America, and Europe.

History of Highland Cows

History of Highland Cows

During the eighteenth century, the Highland Cows roamed about and grazed in the woods and mountains of Strathspey in winter. While in summer, their owners took them to the valleys. These herdsmen lived in some buildings to take care of them, and other members collected the feed for these cattle. When they were ready to be sold, these castles were moved along drove roads daily, over the mountains.

Hence, they used to walk a few kilometers daily along with staying at a specific place to provide them safety, shelter, and grazing points. A lot of buyers traveled from all over England to the markets of Crieff, Carlisle, and Falkirk. These buyers were ready to pay higher dollars for these “Scotch Runts” due to their small size. Fortunately, 30,000 pounds were exchanged at one market only at that time.

Due to the many qualities of these cattle, people started to steal them from the herd. So, the farmers used to pay for a show, set for these cattle only, to recognize and get them back. Moreover, the two classes of these cows were different in size. The black ones were smaller, and this distinction was the same due to the intense climate and lesser supply of feed to them.

Appearance of Highland Cows

Appearance of Highland Cows

Highland cattle have curve-shaped horns and lengthy and wavy thick fur of different colors, like black, dun, ginger, red, grey, yellow, white, tan, and brindle. Their meat is trendy, and people prefer it due to the lesser quantity of cholesterol in it. The Highland bulls weigh around 800kg, and the cows weigh about 500kg. Moreover, their milk is quite nutritious as it has a high quantity of butterfat in it.

Their thick coat of hair makes them adapt to the winter in Scotland. The hair makes them warm, protects their lower part against many bushes, and provides security to the eyes against many flies. The hair on their eyes makes them look good and unique and is also one of the reasons for their popularity. In southern climates, this breed doesn’t have long hairs. Moreover, in summer, their long hair gets shorter and shorter.

Habitat of the Highland Cows

Initially, they lived in the Highlands, the Hebrides Islands of Scotland, the South of Scotland, North & South America, and Australia. They can be found exploring hills at 10,000 feet in the Andes. Moreover, they are found in fields and walking across the road in the west. You can also see them in Cairngorms National Park.

Uses of Highland Cows

Uses of Highland Cows

These cows are widely used to get many things from them due to several qualities. People find their meat and milk very tasty and healthy, and hence, they also sell them to people. The following are some uses of the Highland cattle:

Meat of Highland Cows

The thick coat of hair over their body means no extra fat or cholesterol. It means that there is meat in place of fat, which makes their meat quite cholesterol-free. The highly seasoned and thin meat enhances its quality. Due to its high protein & iron content, low-fat content, good texture, and delicious taste, their beef demands a hefty amount and, hence, is sold for a higher price.

But remember that “Industrial Cattle Raising” doesn’t value the safety and well-being of its animals, while the “Scottish Beef Farming System” does. Hence, the farming system is environment-friendly because you can grow alternative crops; on the other hand, grazing is unsuitable for land as it can reduce the fertility of the soil.

Milk of Highland Cows

Although they don’t produce enough milk, just like other cows, it is highly tastier than other cows’ milk. The owners can get 2 gallons per day for their personal use, but they can also sell them in the market on a daily basis. It has high demand as it contains about 10% butter in it, which is quite appreciable.

Highland Cows for Cross-breeding

People started searching for meat at lower prices, and hence, the best quality meat didn’t have enough sales. So, a cross-breed was done between Highland Suckler cows and Limousin Bull or Shorthorn. The cattle produced after cross-breeding had good quality meat, just like the Mother Highland Cow, but unfortunately, the price was high. The good news is that these cross-breds are now more popular in the market for their best production of beef. Breeders can also do F2 between Charolair and Highland Cow to get better quality meat.

Diet of Highland Cows

The Grazer highland Cows can entirely survive on rough grass and bushes. But for better quality meat and milk, breeders feed them with silage, straw, green feed, and hay. Some herdsmen prepare their diet chart for their animals and provide them with everything, from rough grasses to peas, turnips, cereal grains, and hay of corn, barley, or wheat. Pregnant cows have extra care in the intake of their diet.

Moreover, they can eat anything nutritious, like cedar trees, other tree leaves, poison ivy, and honeysuckle vines. Some animals deny having rough grasses and bushes, but these hardy cows can eat up to anything. In addition, freshwater flourishes on these cows. They love to have fresh water, but it must be available in access.

Disease Resistant Breed

The mini Highland Cows are disease-resistant cows. Again, they have long hairs in front of their eyes, so they can resist the entry of small insects and flies into their eyes. Hence, they are resistant to cancer eyes and pinkeye-type diseases. Moreover, they can’t acquire any genetic diseases. These cows are generally not furious, and you can train them well, and they can learn without getting angry with you. So, this is the reason why they don’t develop any stress diseases.

Taking everything into account, Highland Cows are the “one” of all animals. You can get your rough pastures cleaned, good beef, and healthy milk from them. They can move along with you just like your friends, the way you train them. Their morning faces make them look good and distinct from other animals, also making them popular among the cow community. Hence, all these characteristics are helping them become famous and in demand for many people. You can also grow miniature Highland Cows and get several benefits from them.