title Highland Cattle World

About Highland Cattle

Scotlands Highland Cattle are an ancient cattle breed whose ancestry is long and distinguished and can be traced back through generations via the Highland Cattle Societies Herd Book which was first published in 1885.   

Highlands are easily identified by the long thick glossy hair of their coats and the Dossan, or fringe, that protective veil from behind which they view their World, but it is arguably the Highlanders horns that give this wonderful animal its most distinctive feature.

Lorna of Cnoc & Phiobaidh 3rd of Broomrigg
Lorna of Cnoc & Phiobaidh 3rd of Broomrigg

Highland Cattle are varied in colour; those recognised by the Highland Cattle Society are Red, Yellow, Black, Dunn and Brindle.

For a full description of what a Highland Cow or Bull should look like we have published the breed standard as set down by the Society and published in 1884. You can access it here. This site includes information on the traditional method of naming calves , for those who are not familiar with Scots Gaelic there is an English translation, however you can be certain you will be forgiven any 'iffy' pronunciations!

Face of a Highland from America
American Highland from Bullthistle Farm.

Although a standard has been set to protect the integrity of this ancient breed there is nothing cosmetic in this. That thick coat has to protect against the harshest of climates, the dossan deters flies and insects whilst the horns are defensive weapons formidable against ancient predators, protecting a calf or sparring for a place in the fold.

In a modern World it is rare for domesticated animals to maintain their natural instincts but cattlemen will tell you of Highland Cows hiding young calves whilst they graze or refusing to cross parts of a moor that later claimed an unsuspecting quad.  It could also be a reason why Cows can still bear calves well into their late teens. Why the beef on a highlander is so low in cholesterol it is comparative with chicken.

Surviving where other animals would perish Highland Cattle have a natural and unique ability to convert poor grazing efficiently, making a real contribution to their environment which is another reason they can now be found throughout the World, from the Andes to the Hebrides.

Banner of Black Highland Cows
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