Highland-cattle is an extensive beef cattle breed. On our eco-farm, we have been breeding it since 1997. The origin of this attractive breed goes back to Celtic times and to the area of the north-western Scottish Highland. In today’s form it has been kept since the 18th century. It is a breed that has preserved its natural characteristics and instincts. It may be considered as a kind of genetic reserve of cattle.
Scottish Highland-cattle is a robust breed of animals of small frame with a compact body structure. They have characteristically long, protruding horns on a short and shaggy head. The chest is prominently deep, the legs are short. The back is quite long, wide and straight. The lightly increasing line between pelvis and tail facilitates calving. The chest, the shoulder blades and the back are prominently muscular. The less prominent muscularity of the legs is typical for Highland-cattle and forms another advantage for easier calving.
The long thick hair, covering head as well, is typical. The hair covers the eyes, which protects them well against flies and thus also against the IKK infection.
There are several colour types of this breed; the most widely spread is red (ginger), then brindle (striped red-brown), but also black or blond (light), the rare dun (grey-beige) and the exceptional white. The crest height of the adult cow ranges between 115-130 cm and the weight is between 450-550 kg. The adult bull is between 120-140 cm high at the crest and the weight is between 700-800 kg.
The cows have valuable ability to calve easily and have excellent maternal qualities. The births take place among the herd, without human assistance. The born calves are independent and within several hours after their birth they suck the mother’s milk. The calves stay with the cow for eight months or longer, before another calf is born. The gain in weight of the young animals is around 1 kg a day in the summer period. In the winter period, the gain is less due to slower metabolism; for the same reason, smaller feeding dose is sufficient in this period.
On the pasture, the animals are calm. This is certainly supported by the presence of a breeding-bull in the herd. Insemination is not recommended due to the difficulty of rutting recognition of this breed. Scottish Highland-cattle is an undemanding breed, suitable also for harsh mountain conditions. Even a modest pasture is sufficient. The fact, that the animals have been accustomed to over centuries to living out of doors all year round, influences positively their resistance and health.
To conclude – the most valuable qualities of this breed are:
- Extensive breed, undemanding,
- Easy births,
- Excellent maternal qualities,
- Small frame – maintenance of landscape without its devastation,
- All year long pasture without needs of agricultural constructions,
- Suitable also for mountain conditions,
- No over-cultivation – health,
- High quality of meat, close to game and…
- Last but not least: attractive appearance.
Our eco-farm is situated in Šumava, in the southern part of the Czech Republic. In the rough mountain conditions of 900 meters altitude, we keep the special breed of beef cattle: the Highland-cattle. Our herd contains around 30 animals. We cultivate around forty hectares of mountain meadows and pastures.
Our choice of animals has focused – apart from the exterior appearance – on obtaining animals of different colour types. Today we can claim, that in our herd we have representatives of almost all colour types ranging from blond, red (ginger), brindle (striped red-brown), black, to dun (grey-beige). The variety of colours beautifully matches the natural environment of pastures.
All our animals are signed up in the breeding book of the Czech Union of Beef-Cattle Breeders. With the purchase of breeding heifers or young bulls, the new owner obtains not only the registration card of cattle evidence for each animal but also the confirmation of its origin, the so called POP. The cattle are free of IBR. The blood of our cattle is regularly checked.
Our breed has been registered at the Ecological Agriculture Control from the very beginning of its existence. We have been observing their rules and our farm has obtained a certificate of an ecological farm. The attractive animals of Highland-cattle are not only an attraction for tourists but also represent important assistants in the process of landscape cultivation. Highland-cattle are bred on the pastures all year long. One of the advantages of this breed is that a animals do not require any agricultural housing except summer, when it is necessary to provide them with a shelter against the sharp summer sun. In our case, this is well provided by the trees already present at the pasture area and those that we later planted in the form of solitaires and an alley planted as one of our first farm projects.
In winter, Highland-cattle stays in the winter-quarters, with hay being provided from the mobile feeding places, and with access to the watering place, where running water never freezes. They can stand winter well and snow does not represent a problem for them. They are not fattened up with coarse grain feeds, which is another advantage of this extensive breed.
Apart from its ecological importance for landscape cultivation and the possibility of sale of the breeding animals, the breed of Highland-cattle is also a source of beef meat of top quality, which is delicate, marble-like and contains low level of cholesterol.
Photo see adress: highland-cattle.eu/galerie.
Contact person: Míchalová Ivana
Phone: 00420 724464062 / Kubková Zuzana
Details of position: Czech Republic, South Bohemia Region, Prachatice District.
Farm: Tejmlov, southern slope of the Javorník hill, Šumava