Highland Cows: An Ancient Breed with a Flowing Mane

The ancient Highland cow is the perfect combination of adorable and low maintenance.

The Highland is an ancient breed of cattle that originated in the Scottish Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland. First mentioned in the 6th century A.D., the breed is known for its long, thick hair and its hardiness in harsh conditions.

In Scottish Gaelic, they are known as Bò Ghàidhealach and in Scots, they are called Heilan coo. In the first herd book that the Highlander is mentioned in there are two distinct breeds, but over time and crossbreeding there is now only one official cow in the registry. While originating in Scotland, the breed has since made its way to Australia and New Zealand, all across Europe, Canada, and the United States.

Breed Characteristics

Highlands are a medium-sized cattle breed and come in a variety of colors. At shows, they are often groomed with oils and conditioners that make their coats look fluffy, and are sometimes called "fluffy cows." The thick coats of this Scottish breed make them well-suited to colder temperatures, but less tolerant to excessive heat. Their long horns help them dig through snow to get to grass underneath.

Coat Characteristics

Their thick woolly downy undercoat keeps them warm, while the longer guard hairs shed snow and rain. Their coat also protects them from strong winds.

Highland bulls can weigh up to 1,800 pounds and even cows are larger animals, reaching 1,100 pounds. Though they are not often used as dairy animals, since they are primarily a beef breed, their milk tends to have a very high butterfat content.

Learn more about Highland cattle and where to find Highland cattle calves by visiting the Highland Cattle Society and the American Highland Cattle Association. You can find out more about the breed standard of Scottish Highland cattle, the cow with long hair!

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