Synonymous with Scotland, the Highland Cow, or Hielan Coo as we would say, can be seen all over the country.
Highland cattle (also known as Hairy Coo or Hielan Coo) are an ancient Scottish breed of beef cattle with long outward spreading horns and long wavy pelts coloured black, brindled, red, yellow, or dun.
The breed was developed in the Scottish Highlands and western coastal regions of Scotland, and breeding stock has been exported to the rest of the world, especially Australia and North America, since the 1900s and is used as grazer in nature reserves in the Netherlands . The breed was developed from two sets of stock, one originally black, and the other reddish. Today, Highland cattle come in a wide variety of colours.
Highlands are known as a hardy breed due to the rugged nature of their native Scottish Highlands, with high rainfall and strong winds. They both graze and browse and eat plants other cattle avoid. The meat tends to be leaner than most beef, as highlands get most of their insulation from their thick shaggy hair rather than subcutaneous fat. The coat also makes them a good breed for cold Northern climates.
The Highland cattle registry (“herd book”) was established in 1885. Although groups of cattle are generally called herds, a group of highlands is known as a ‘fold’. The breed is affectionately known as “shaggy coos” or “hairy coos” in parts of Scotland. They were also known as ‘kyloes’ in Scots.
Highland cattle have been successfully established in many European countries. Their hair provides protection during the cold winters, and their skill in browsing for food is also important in order to survive in such a steep mountain area.
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Related shots can be found at: Highland Scotland.
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