The most resistant breeds are considered highland mini-cows. They find food in any weather, even under snow and stones, they don’t get sick, they feel great outside a warm stall. The only negative is that they give little milk, but the meat is extremely tasty.
Description and appearance of the breed
Highlands owe their unusual appearance to the harsh nature of the area where they appeared - the north of Scotland, highlands with rains and strong winds. Long hair protects from the cold, and curled horns help you find food on rocky terrain. Although large animals are considered their ancestors, this breed is made up of representatives of mini-cows that have become a symbol of Scotland.
Highlands are willingly bred in other countries, but more like an exotic option. Outwardly, small calves resemble amazing plush toys, and by nature they are calm and unpretentious.
Appearance of the Scottish breed:
- Body. In appearance - disproportionate, with a powerful physique, these cows have short legs. Good stability is laid genetically, so that they can deftly and quickly climb mountains.
- Head. The muzzle is large, the jaws are powerful, the eyes are widely set.
- Neck. Straight, small in size, the crest is clearly visible in the bulls.
- Chest. Wide and deep, but without a underpart.
- Back. Powerful, rounded.
- Horns. Huge, with pointed ends, excellent protection from wild animals, in particular, from the cougar and the wolf.
- Wool. It looks very dense and twisted. A unique difference - it is located in two layers, protecting from enemies no worse than sharp horns. The outer layer is made of hard fibers, the inner one is very soft. Thanks to this coat, cows do not need subcutaneous fat. And also in expensive, insulated cowsheds and shelters in pastures. These cows can sleep peacefully in the snow.
- Color. There are different:
- the black;
- red brown;
- Bang. In highlands - a long, falling on the forehead. It has several functions:
- protects eyes from infection, which can be delivered by insects;
- protects from snow and rain;
- drives away flies, mosquitoes and horseflies from animals.
- Legs. Short, but very strong, Scottish breed animals easily overcome mountain paths and long passages.
- Weight. Fluctuates from 400 to 800 kg.
- Height. On average, adults reach 110-120 cm, but breeding bulls can reach up to 130 cm.
Highlands have a lot of sebaceous glands, fat covers the coat and provides additional protection from the cold.
Origin and distribution
This breed was bred on the North Scottish Highlands and the Outer Hebrides, crossing two species: black from the islands, and red from the highlands. In 1885, they were entered on the register as cattle; the local population called these cows “kyloes”. They initially planned to breed for good milk yield, but then they were convinced that their meat was much better. From the beginning of the 20th century, highlands began to spread around the world, and gained particular popularity in North America and Australia.
- For the sake of an experiment in 2013, these breeds were brought to the Herzberg Park in Berlin. The effect exceeded expectations, these peaceful, kind animals became the subject of adoration for both children and adults.
- Today, even the Queen of Great Britain has her own small herd - about 100 individuals of the Highland breed. Keep them on the pastures in the castle of Balmoral.
- Relate to dwarf breeds, although they have large horns and massive muscles.
Scientists believe that highlands are ideal for breeding in Russian climatic zones.
What is Highland productivity?
Although the Highland cows are small, they can gain weight.
Since this breed is meat, the ideal age for a bull is from 1 to 3 years, they are gaining good weight by this time, and the meat remains tender. But when individuals have exceeded 10 years, the meat becomes tough and loses many qualities.
This breed is bred mainly for meat, since very little milk is given to cows - up to 5 liters per day, as much as possible - when feeding calves.
Highland Meat Features:
- Amazing taste, a bit like wild meat.
- It contains very little fat, it does not form due to the warm coat.
- Low cholesterol, the product is considered dietary for the cores.
- A lot of iron and proteins in the composition.
Animals of this breed are slowly gaining weight, so they are not suitable for intensive feeding for quick slaughter.
All farmers say that keeping this breed is very profitable and convenient. Enough and a small yard, because the individuals are small, and cost pasture. They give enough milk for a small family, and, what is noteworthy, they love to play, so children love adorable cows. And they also perfectly “trim” the lawns in the garden and give excellent fertilizer.
- It’s easier to look after.
- Places are few.
- Fodder is required less than conventional breeds.
- No special equipment is needed to protect from rain, wind and sun.
- Get along well with other pets, can coexist even with wild ones if there is no threat to their life.
- An excellent maternal instinct, due to which, the high productivity of the offspring is ensured. Cows of this breed die in very rare cases.
The main condition is to keep in open space, the ideal option is a large corral where a large herd will fit. If the grazing place is large, the area is wooded, then you can not even feed in the winter. Lookout is needed only for young animals, and then - in cold weather, when there is severe frost and snow.
Highlands do not tolerate leashes, immediately begin to lose weight.
All about leaving
The first thing farmers need to consider when buying this breed is the availability of pasture. If it’s tense with those, then it’s better to choose other animals. And take into account very weak milk yield, for a year the highlands give up to 1,500 liters of milk, and then almost everything goes to the calves.
- On the farm you need to install special awnings. They will help the herd to shelter from rain and sun, spend the night in comfort.
- Provide drinkers and feeders. The number is determined by the composition of individuals.
- Regularly comb the hair and bangs so that there are no tangles.
- To clean hoofs from dirt, stones and debris.
- For calving the cows, take a special canopy, the animals do without human help, but supervision is still necessary. Especially in winter.
Newborn calves are quite frost-resistant, if they are cold, they hide under the long hair of their mother.
Professional farmers do not advise taking highlands for intensive feeding, this alignment is not for this breed. They gain weight, but not as fast as they would like. It is very important that the herd takes care of itself on its own: removing sod from the soil in search of food, they help to grow new, juicy grass. It is easy to pry a layer for them, thanks to a wide muzzle and sharp horns. So farmers save a lot on feed for this breed.
Highland Feeding Features:
- They use even the toughest grass and thorny shrubs, their digestion copes with the roughest fiber.
- In summer, grazing grass is enough.
- In winter, it is enough to harvest hay, although experienced farmers are advised to leave hay.
- For grazing, large territories are needed.
The top dressing includes:
- feed mixture;
- fodder root crops.
Highlands even adapted to use to restore pastures destroyed by goats and sheep. These animals eat out a hard litter and open growth to herbs. With the help of Scottish breeds, the Czechs have been raising protected meadows for many years.
With a lack of vitamins, cows of meat breeds can greatly lose weight.
It is noted that this breed is immune to disease, easily adapts to cold. Immunity is not amenable to viruses, which makes highlands a very profitable purchase for large farms.
This is because they:
- Rarely in contact with other animals.
- They have strong genetic protection: wool and a compact body that protect from the cold and promote thermoregulation.
Highland Cow Breeding
Highland cows are also beneficial in that they provide strong and independent calves. The heifers themselves grow young animals, for which the farmer needs supervision only in severe colds.
What is important to know:
- The first calving in cows happens about 3 years old, and they bring calves up to 20 years.
- They produce babies quickly and easily, with virtually no complications, which is extremely important for breeding.
Some farmers do not specialize in meat, but in milk, although there are few of them in highlands. But at the same time, the product is extremely valuable, thanks to its unique features that allow you to treat the heart, blood vessels, stomach and intestines.
The difference between the milk of Scottish cows is in the high content of phospholipid substances. These are esters of polyhydric alcohols, carriers of phosphoric acid, which is very useful for:
- brain work;
- recovery of the nervous system.
Advantages and disadvantages of the breed
For all their talents, cows of the Scottish breed have not only advantages, but also disadvantages that must be taken into account by those who decided to breed this breed.
- Unpretentiousness. No need special facilities, equipment, feed. Enough good canopy, drinking bowls and feeders.
- Minimum feed costs.
- Excellent health, resistance to viruses.
- Easily tolerate cold.
- They breed well, losses among calves are extremely rare.
- All young growth survives.
- They live long - up to 20 years.
- The meat is dietary and very tasty.
- Healing milk.
- Calm nature, child friendly. Only a cow can be aggressive when threatening its calves.
- Restore dead pastures.
- They give very little milk.
- Poorly tolerate heat and high humidity. Therefore, the content in the climate of the tropics and subtropics is excluded.
- They require large pastures for walking. The barn - grazing mode for this breed is categorically unacceptable.
- Do not tolerate leash.
It is recommended to keep highlands in herds, then they better adapt to life in open spaces.
Today, breeders of Siberia, the Urals and the Far East show great interest in this breed. You can buy a charming shaggy calf in Russia, but very expensive: from 7 thousand euros. But in Europe, such an acquisition will cost up to 1 thousand euros. But you also need to consider customs and transportation costs. And yet it will turn out an order of magnitude cheaper, the acquisition of a Scottish-born baby will cost about 4 thousand euros.
Ivan, a farmer.
I tried to get this breed, partners helped with the purchase. Very satisfied. All year round in the pasture, up to 12 months, the calf was given children's feed, then the one for adult animals. After it was treated with pasture. The expenses paid off wonderfully.
Vladimir, a farmer.
Highlands - dear breed, when he found out about the price, he backed down. But the friends who moved to Australia praised so much, even helped with the purchase, that they could not resist. Now I'm not overjoyed. The cow got hotels, the baby was with his mother until 9 months old. After a year he gave them only hay and water. Very profitable!
Irina, a farmer.
When choosing cows for the herd, I always chose those where the cost and hassle of caring for less. With a good profit, I ventured to take the highlands, and I am very pleased. I did not have more economical animals! They quickly got used to the climate, unpretentious. Peacefully coexist with my other animals. Children adore them. I want to buy more.
Highland is an expensive breed, but extremely profitable. Without the cost of building for animals and feed, in a couple of years it’s realistic to return all the costs of selling meat, milk or raising calves. Some farmers also lease the herd for restoration of pastures and meadows. So the benefits are huge. The main thing is to take into account your ability to provide pasture and the climate of your region.