Scottish Highland Cows
Have you ever seen those adorably fluffy ginger cows? We are sharing all of the details about Highland cows and mini Highland cows!
We recently visited Carmel Valley Ranch in California and befriended the cutest Highland cows, so we decided to spill all the details on this iconic breed!
In this article, you’ll learn everything from where they originated to what they’re used for today (besides being ridiculously cute) and why you may want to add one of these gorgeous creatures to your own farm someday.
Grab a cup of tea and a Scottish shortbread biscuit, and let’s dive in!
The History Of Scottish Highland Cows
Where It Began
It probably comes as no surprise that Highland cows originated in the Highlands of Scotland.
Back in the 1800s, they became extremely popular as a meat source, and they were frequently stolen because of how much money you could make by bringing a cow to the market for harvesting.
But thieves weren’t the only ones who valued these cows. Some say Queen Victoria preferred the reddish-colored coat. Hence, herdsmen started breeding their animals to produce more of this coloration and less of the black coat that they originally had.
Whether or not this is entirely the truth still yields a bit of speculation, but there’s no doubt that Highland cows stole the hearts of people around Scotland before they became popular in other parts of the world.
A Note On Their Coat
Highland cows are a hardy breed with a double coat of hair that makes it easier for them to withstand harsh conditions. They have a thick undercoat that insulates them from cold temperatures and an oily outer coat that gives them their cute, furry appearance.
Their signature long hair offers them protection from things like flies, weather, and brush in pastures and can vary in length depending on the season. And although they are most frequently pictured with a reddish coat, highland cows can actually have black, dun, yellow, grey, white, tan, brindle, silver, or ginger coloration.
Small farmers in the high country also spun their hair into yarn as a way to utilize the whole animal.
Key Environmental Characteristics
Both traditional Highland cows and mini Highland cows do well grazing and require less supplemental hay in their diet. This is extremely appealing to farmers and helps this breed flourish across multiple continents.
As we mentioned briefly above, they can also withstand cold, wet climates and handle rough terrain fairly well, too. So, as farmers are looking to add breeds to their existing herds, Highland cows are a sturdy, preferred addition.
Where Are They Now
On that note: While they are still prevalent in their native home in Scotland, these adorable cows can also be found in other parts of Europe, Australia, North America, and South America.
They are known to be very friendly “hairy coos,” as the locals say, and are also used for different purposes nowadays.
Let’s take a closer look at the three ways we utilize Highland cows today.
How Much Does a Highland Cow Cost?
If you’re hoping for a fluffy cow in your own backyard, you might be wondering how much it’s going to set you back. We have found Highland cows listed for sale from between $2,000 and $8,000 in the U.S.
Do Highland Cows Make Good Pets?
If your home is zoned for livestock and you have 1 1/2 to 2 acres available, then mini Highland cows make great pets. They are generally gentle and calm. You can find these fluffy cows available for sale from various breeders in the U.S. and the U.K.
When shopping for Highland cows, you’ll notice both standard and miniature sized. Like miniature pigs, scams abound, so it’s important to do your research.
What Are Highland Cows And Mini Highland Cows Used For?
Although we love to look at their fluffy faces, Highland cows and mini Highland cows are still used regularly for meat. In fact, Highland beef is considered high quality but lower in cholesterol, making it more comparable with other lean meats, such as chicken or fish.
As we mentioned above, Highland cows are a very docile breed. That makes them perfect for family milk cows! They produce about 2-3 gallons of milk a day; enough for a homestead but not the most ideal breed for a dairy farm.
However, their milk can contain up to 10% butterfat content, which makes it all the more delicious and sought-after. In fact, you can make anything from butter, cheese, cream, and ice cream from Highland milk!
Because of their unique coat and demeanor, they are also great to show cows! As one of the oldest registered breeds, Highland cows stand out with their long horns, thick and flowy coats, and versatility.
They’ve also been bred for hardiness over the centuries, and they are flourishing all across the world.
Where To Find Scottish Highland Cows On Your Travels
If you want to see the heritage Scottish Highland cows, here are some fun places to visit:
North Scotland — the original home of Highland cows — boasts stunning landscapes and flowing farms. If you take a drive through the countryside, you are bound to see these adorable creatures grazing in the pasture.
This is the place to go if you want the most authentic “Highland” experience.
Aberdeenshire has both rolling hills filled with Highland cattle and hidden gems, such as ancient castles, nestled within its landscape.
Beyond their homeland, you can visit farms all over the world that have different varieties of Highland cows and mini Highland cows. We’ll bet there are some closer to you than you think!
Highland Cows: Your New Fluffy Friend
Whether you want to add a new breed to your farm, just love learning more about them, or want to visit them someday, Highland cows and mini Highland cows have a rich history.
From the high country in Scotland to all around the world, their notoriety has not diminished throughout the centuries they’ve been around.
Today, you can find them used for meat production, milk on a small scale, or as a “show cow” in certain areas because of their majestic appearance and friendly demeanor.
No matter what, the one thing we can all agree on is that they are truly one-of-a-kind and cute! I mean, who doesn’t want a cow whose “bangs” you can style?
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You can see the size compared to my 12 year old in the last picture 🙂
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Thank you for sharing these fun places to visit if one wants to see the heritage Scottish Highland cows. It’s fascinating to learn that the North Scotland is the original home of these cute creatures and offers the most authentic Highland experience.
Aberdeenshire seems like a great place to explore as well, with its rolling hills and hidden gems such as ancient castles. Seeing the Highland cows grazing in such picturesque landscapes must be quite a sight.
It’s also interesting to know that Highland cows can be found in farms all over the world, including mini Highland cows. It’s amazing how these furry creatures have captured the hearts of people worldwide.
not sure why, but my comment is appearing in all-caps. Sorry! Thanks for your article on Highland cows; My husband and I have bred Scottish Highlands for 30+ years. I wanted to inform you know that the breeding of “mini” scottish highlands is actually an animal-cruelty practice… Highlands do not possess a dwarfism gene that can be isolated and reproduced by breeders. Therefore, the “mini’s” sold on the market are most often the result of poor health and even purposeful malnutrition and confinement :(. breeding these minis to make more minis is often a painful experience given the animal’s compromised health. thanks for being willing to be informed. all the best.
Thank you so much for your comment. This is such an important point. The same happens with “mini” and “micro” pigs. Very sad. Thanks again.