Highland Cattle are the oldest registered breed of cattle with a Herd Book being published in 1885. The Scottish Highland Cattle Society was formed in 1884 and most of the cattle that were registered were black. The Highland breed has lived for centuries in the rugged, remote Scottish Highlands. The harsh conditions created a process of natural selection, where only the fittest and most adaptable animals survived to carry on the breed. American cattlemen recognized the qualities of the Highland and imported them to improve their current bloodlines in the 1890's. The Highland breed contributed in a great way to the success of the American cattle industry.
Highlands are a low maintenance animal and are what we call a scavenger. They eat a lot of brush other cattle will pass up and they will clear it quickly and effectively. Their horns are used to clear brush and fight off predators. They are also good for scratching an itch, too! Highlands are very docile and calm by nature. They are more disease resistant due to genetic advantages, but also by design; their eyelashes are long and the forelocks help with flying insects, reducing pinkeye and eye cancer within the breed. Most Highlands will outlive your other standard breeds on the market. They will still be giving birth to calves well in to their teens, as I have seen some 18-19 years old giving birth. I am sure, however, it depends on the conditions they have lived under. Highlands are exceptional mothers and they are known for having easy births. Our calves are usually up and ready to go within 10-15 minutes if Momma hasn't knocked them down from licking them so much (which is actually a really good thing for stimulation.) Highlands are also known for producing rich milk.
The double hair coat is the biggest difference between Highlands and other cattle. This is what keeps them warm in the winter and helps your pocket book as Highlands don't require a big barn or shelter. We love to see them in the cooler weather running and playing. It is also great in the winter, when everyone else's cattle are going down hill and looking poor, the Highlands are thriving and gaining weight. The Highlands do shed out their under coat in the spring, having less hair going into the summer. This enables them to adapt to the U.S. climate. It is very necessary to have adequate shade for them to go to and having a pond is very helpful.