The Highland Breed

Highland History

Highland cattle are a heritage breed tracing back to the sixth century. Originating from Scotland, they survived the harsh conditions of the Scottish Highlands. Through natural selection they evolved into the extremely hardy and adaptable breed they are today.

The first registered Highland cattle were found in the 1885 Highland Cattle Society herd book in Scotland. American cattlemen recognized the potential benefits of these cattle and began importing Highlands to the United States in the late 1890’s and official registration began in 1948 with the American Highland Cattle Association.

Breed Traits

Efficient Grazers
Highlands are known for being very efficient on grass, and are the stars of many grass fed programs. Their moderate frame size means they can eat less than a large commercial animal and still maintain a strong body condition. While they are efficient, quality is still key to provide a well-balanced diet and nutrition program. They may survive on weeds and little grass, but they will thrive on nutritious, well-maintained forage.

While every animal has their own personality, overall the Highland breed is known for being very docile. There are still livestock and should be approached with caution, but their calm demeanors make them easy to work with and a good option for those new to cattle.

Birthing Ease/Maternal Instincts
Derived from necessity calving in remote areas of the Scottish Highlands, Highland cows are known for their birthing ease and strong maternal instincts. Does this mean they never need assistance? No. Things can happen, but in general Highlands need birthing assistance less often than most commercial breeds. Their strong maternal instincts, while great for protecting young out on pasture can mean they are leery of humans shortly after birth.

Lean, Tender Beef
Highland beef is known for being lean and tender, although if finished properly will still provide excellent marbling and flavor. The slow growth rate of these animals and the double layer of hair, reducing the need for excess fat to keep them warm are the largest contributors to these delicious meat qualities. Our Highland Beef page goes into more specifics on beef quality and how we have chosen to finish our beef for optimal tenderness and flavor.