Highland Cattle: Hardy Breed with Long Horns

Highland cattle were certainly primitive and until the eighteenth century did not begin to have economic value for the inhabitants of the Hebrides. Used for the production of meat, specimens of these animals were taken at the end of the 19th century to North America. Today it is also possible to find them in Scandinavia or Alaska, and even, in small numbers, in Australia and South America.

The Highland cow is one of the oldest and most famous British breeds and has maintained its identity without major changes over the centuries. There is a tradition that refers to white cattle that flourished in Glen Lyon before 1700. While the distant origin of the herd Jura in 1764 had already been forgotten. It is a cattle breed indigenous to the Highlands. This breed is known as “Highland cattle”, but also receives the names of Longhorn, Hairy Coo or Hielan Coo.

Highland Cattle

Characteristics of Highland Cattle

Highland cattle have an abundant, long and rough coat, with a shorter coat of hair in winter and short and soft hair in summer. Characteristics of short legs and predominantly of reddish fur. With a kind of thick “fringe” that partially covers his eyes and long and powerful horns. Black was by far the most common color, and animals were smaller in size and furrier than mainland cattle.

This last one, the Mainland Highlander, was of more variable color, between red, brown, marbled and black, although the latter is not so popular today. The skin is flexible and of medium thickness and its degree of pigmentation goes from clear to dark. You May Also Like To Read Jersey cow.

The head is relatively short, with a broad front and nose and long hairs that are born from the testes. The shape of the horns varies from animal to animal but are always long and open. The clusters have an outward direction from the strain and can then be turned up and back, with the tips forward and out,

Likewise, they can curve down and forward. The back is straight, the chest wide and deep, the ribs well arched and the spine wide. The square and strong texture of these animals often give them greater weight than they could normally estimate. The legs are short and the animals are smaller in size and ripening slower than the Galloway.


Highland cattle live where there are poor mountainous soils and extensive heathlands and helechos. They do not provide nutritious pastures, while on the lower floors the Nardus and Molinia pastures abound. You May Also Like To Read Dairy Cow Farming

With the exception of some cows and calves less than one year old, Highland cattle spend the winter outdoors in the midst of snow. From December these animals need supplementary feeding based on hay, bunches, oats or oat straw. While the livestock receives silage, roots and shredded oats as complementary food.


The animals live in the mountains and in the valleys, subsisting largely on natural grassland. The soil is pebbly, Frank or turbid, and livestock can live at altitudes of up to 900 m. The climate is of the maritime type on the coast but it becomes colder in the winter to greater altitudes towards the east.

Similarly, there are large differences in annual rainfall ranging from 2,000-3,000 mm. In the west to only 600 mm on the eastern slopes of the eastern mountains.


Heifers first give birth at three or four years of age. And they can continue their reproductive life up to 12 years. The Bulls also remain for many years in service and cover for the first time to the middle and agile of age.

The weight of the young at birth is on average 30 kg for males and 27 kg for females. But they grow slowly and it is common practice to take fattening animals from the Highlands to other lower lands with better pastures.


The Highland cattle its usefulness is mainly to consume its meat. The quality of the meat is high and this breed is often used to produce Shorthorn mongrel for faster growth and fattening. The other option for breeding this breed is to display it on exhibits. The chances of this cattle when the food is not Limits can be observed by the fact that he was the champion of Smithfield on several occasions. This race at 32 months of age weighs up to 630 kg.

Special Feature

Being native to the Highlands has certainly made them very resistant animals. This breed supports harsh climates, in which other species could not survive. A noteworthy element in Highland cows is their exceptional maternal sense. They have a gestation of 283 days and the newborn calf, despite its apparent fragility, is able to survive in especially adverse conditions.

It shows that its prestige is that there are partnerships with these cattle not only in Scotland. But also in countries as diverse as Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Holland, Finland, France, Switzerland or Norway. But its origin is the place with which this race maintains its identification, is in Scotland. Although fearsome, Highland cows are very docile except immediately after calving.


If you want to learn more about the Highland cattle breed, we’ve got a guide for you. Below is an informational blog post on what they are and how to care for them with tips from our staff of experts at ABC Livestock Services. The Scottish Highlands have been home to many breeds of cattle throughout its history, most notably this hardy animal that has longhorns and a shaggy coat which makes it well-suited to withstand cold winters. It originated in Scotland’s highlands as well as some islands like those off the coast of Scotland such as Shetland or Orkney Islands where they were bred and raised by crofters who still think their own herds today! Hope this guide has

As A References: Wikipedia

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