The Canadian Highland Cattle Society
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Highland Cattle Characteristics

Mature Weight   Much like the Highland cattle in ancient Scotland, Canadian Highlands are raised in vastly different environmental conditions. The wide range seen in the size of cattle within the breed is due mainly to this effect. The following average weights are for cattle that have not had their growth affected by severe climate or restricted diet:

A majestic Highland bull

  • Mature bulls weigh 1,800 pounds (800 kilograms) in breeding condition.
  • Mature cows weigh 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms) in breeding condition.
  • Steers will finish at about 1,000 (450 kilograms). This weight can be attained with heavy feeding as a long yearling but most breeders prefer to grow their steers on pasture and finish them at two years.

A red cow suckles her white bull calf Hair   Highlands have a double coat of hair - a downy undercoat and a long outercoat which may reach 13 inches, and which is well-oiled to shed rain and snow. With the double coat of hair and thick hide, the Highland has been adapted by nature to withstand great exposure. It is not uncommon for Highlands to shed this heavy hair coat when exposed to a hot dry climate and then grow a new one as the damp cold weather returns.

Nature   The Highland is unusually healthy and hardy. It will survive on roughage and poor grazing, including brush if necessary, under climatic conditions where most of our popular breeds would suffer. Highlands are noted for their browsing ability and therefore are well suited to farmsteads where there is an excess of poor pasture and rough land. The Highland's proven ability to produce top quality meat without the addition of expensive high quality feeds makes this breed the perfect choice for those people who wish to produce beef with natural inputs.

The mothering instinct is highly developed in the Highland cow. Abandoned calves, for even first-calf heifers, are rare. This strong protective inclination of the cow minimizes predator losses that can even extend to sheep that are pastured in the same field. The Highland calf is exceptionally hardy and grows rapidly up to weaning.

The Highland cow has a long productive life and many herds average 12 calves from each cow. This greatly reduces their replacement cost, a most important factor these days.

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