The Highland is a Scottish breed of rustic cattle. It originated in the Scottish Highlands and the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland and has long horns and a long shaggy coat. It is a hardy breed, bred to withstand the harsh conditions in the region.
A cuddly Scottish emblem as totemic as tartan and Scottie dogs, the shaggy-fringed Highland has spread as far afield as the Andes and New Zealand, where it’s popular for its ability to thrive on windswept landscapes and for its general charm.
Their long, wavy, woolly coats that can be a range of colours, including red, ginger, black, dun, yellow, white, grey, tan, silver and brindle. Their long hair is actually an unusual double coat of hair- on the outside is the oily outer hair, the longest of any cattle breed, and covers a downy undercoat underneath.
While Highland Cows today usually have distinctive red coats, in the past they were predominately black. Queen Victoria is said to have commented on a trip to the Highlands that she preferred the red coloured cattle and in an effort to please the Queen, there was selective breeding of the reddish colour that we see most often today, with the black colour gradually declining over time.
Highlands can produce calves up to the age of nearly 20, their ‘hybrid vigour’ makes them a useful outcross and their beef is low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein and iron. Breeders are encouraged to maintain a dam line of names in Gaelic, such asMùirneag (Cheerful girl),Canach (Bog cotton) orUiseag (Skylark).
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