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Did You Know? Highland Cow Facts

Date published: 10/10/2018

Four Interesting Facts About the Highland Cow

Here at Eagle Brae in the Scottish Highlands, we are surrounded by magnificent natural landscapes. And these landscapes are home to a variety of local wildlife. One of the most iconic Scottish animals you’ll see during a stay in one of our beautiful log cabins is the Highland cow. These gentle giants are a Scottish icon but how much do you know about them?

Black highland cow standing next to Eagle Brae sign at main gate

1. Originally they were black.

These days, most of the Highland cows that are seen roaming the natural landscapes in Scotland are ginger or brown. However, originally Highland cattle were mostly black. It was, in fact, the Victorians who liked the ginger cows, so they selectively bred them to the point that ginger became the standard Highland cow colour that we all recognise today. At Eagle Brae, our Highland cows are the original black variety. And, depending on the breeder, you can see Highland cows in silver, brindle, red, yellow, and dun.

Black Highland Cow standing in a field

2. They are the oldest cattle breed in the world.

The first mention of the Highland cow was in the 6th century. However, the Highland Cattle Society was formed in 1884, and the first herd wasn’t officially recorded until a year after that. They originated in the Scottish Highlands and on the Western Isles of Scotland. But, they can now be found all over the world in destinations like Australia, Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Close up of Highland cows face

3. Their fluffy long hair helps them survive in tough environments.

These beautiful long-haired cows are popular due to their cute appearance. With long, shaggy hair and curving horns, they look like something out of a cartoon. However, it’s more than just looks with these delightful creatures. The fluffy thick undercoats help them survive the tough Scottish winters, and the longer hair helps keep the rain and snow off. Their enviable long eyelashes protect their beautiful eyes from the hail, rain, wind and insects. And finally, those rather intimidating horns are used to rake the ground to find food in the snow.

Two highland cows in the snow

4. They’re eco-friendly.

The average Highland cow weighs around 500 kg, compared to a standard cow which weighs around 700 kg. This means the Highland cows tread lightly, without destroying the ground for other wildlife species and plants. They are perfect for conservation grazing because they use their tongues to pull the grass so the vegetation is not left too short, and their dung fertilises the ground. Finally, they become pollinators when wildflower seeds that stick to their long fur are dropped off in other places.

Two young highland cows grazing in a field

These beautiful Scottish Highland cattle, known locally as Highland Coos, are a must-see when visiting Eagle Brae. So, why not book a stay at one of our handcrafted log cabins, and catch a sighting of a grazing Highland cow, a red deer, and many other delightful Scottish wildlife species.

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