Highland Cattle History
- The Scottish Highland is the oldest registered breed of cattle in the world, with the first herd book established back in 1884. But the history of the breed goes way back beyond that. The highlands have evolved over centuries. The area of the Scottish Highlands, where the breed originated, is the most northern part of the British Isles. This area is renowned for its cold, harsh climate and rugged terrain. These cattle had to live and thrive on sparse grazing during the summer months and a winter that saw the ground freeze under heavy snow. Often in the depths of winter the farmers would share their basic dwellings with their cattle. This would account for their quiet friendly temperament. In these conditions only the very toughest survived long enough to breed. This natural selection has created a breed that is hardy, intelligent and thrives on grazing which most cattle won't touch. It is also renowned for its longevity and easy calving, with few health concerns. During the summer months when grass was available they produced milk for the farmers that could be made into cheese and obviously the cattle were also used as a source of meat. To survive in such a cold climate the highland developed long hair to help keep it warm and today is easily distinguished from other cattle breeds by its long shaggy coat and also it long curved horns.Less than ideal pasture or grazing land is another reason to consider the Highland breed. They are good cross grazers with horses and will eat what horses and other cattle pass by. ...and get fat on it. This helps us reduce the need for using weed killers, so what weeds are left behind we simply pull them out and this has helped us maintain good quality pasture and water in our dams, which are free from chemical contamination. The Highland is a disease resistant breed. Long lashes and forelocks shield their eyes from flying insects, and as a result, pinkeye and cancer eye are less common. Highlands do not stress easily, so stress-related diseases do not often occur. Other bovine diseases affect the Highland less, due to the advantage of the genetic purity they have achieved. In their summer coat, they adapt well and although they appreciate shade, have learnt to tolerate the harsh Australian heat. They have been raised as far north as Queensland right down to the snow-capped peaks of Tasmania. The Highland's superior intelligence allows it to be easily taught how to lead and they can become great pets. As a food source, Highland beef is meat that is lean, yet well marbled and flavorsome, with little wasteful top layer fat because it is insultated by hair rather than fat. For many years Highland and Highland crosses have quietly achieved higher than average scores in many carcase competitions around Australia. In the British Isles, Highland beef is recognized as the finest available and fetches premium prices, and this reputation is spreading as more and more beef producers utilize the advantages of this age-old breed.