What Are The Disadvantages Of Highland Cattle? 

Want to know the disadvantages of highland cattle? Then you just need to read this article till the end. What makes highland cattle different from other cattle? Well, they are very recognizable with long hair and trendy fringe, they are a true icon of the cattle world. Years of living on mountainous land have given them a name for being both hardy and resilient. Dating back to the 6th century, they had quite some time to adapt to this land. They bear the same rugged resemblance to the harsh and unforgiving Scottish countryside from where they came. Without further delay let’s know the disadvantages of highland cattle

What Are The Disadvantages Of Highland Cattle? 

Here are some common and important disadvantages of highland cattle that you must know. Take a look at the list given below, 

  1. Management And Temperature 
  2. Low Milk Production 
  3. Marketability And Production Of Meat 
  4. Hair And Horn Issues 
  5. Health  
  6. Poor Heat Tolerance 

Disadvantages Of Highland Cattle 

Let’s understand all the above-mentioned disadvantages one by one in detail. After that, we will give you some advantages of highland cattle as a bonus.

  1. Management And Temperature 

How many highland cattle per acre? Actually, highland cattle need lots of space so a mini highland cow can live comfortably on as little as one acre of pasture. But most appropriately, one adult highland cow needs approximately 1.8 acres of land to live comfortably. Perhaps because highland cattle have had a long lineage of living freely on open mountains, the Highland is not too fond of being cooped up in confined spaces. The thick layer of hair acts as an insulator to electric fences, which is just a single wire and can be waltzed over by them. It is recommended to use a more robust fencing system with barbed wire. Post and rail are best, but it is 3 to 4 times as expensive as wire fencing.

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  1. Low Milk Production 

The production of milk by the highland cow was welcomed and enough for the people to live off when these cattle were the lifeblood of small rural communities of Scotland. But in today’s highly Capitalistic world, with tight profit margins, Highland cows’ low milk production just does not cut the mustard. The other difference with their milk production is it has higher butterfat content than most commercially produced milk at 10%.

  1. Marketability And Production Of Meat 

According to the study performed by the Scottish Agricultural College, highland meat is considerably leaner than you would typically find in the supermarket. For a typical beef Angus sirloin steak, you get 22.8 grams of fat per 100 grams. The highland sirloin steak, it is 7.8 grams of fat per 100 grams. The growth of the highland cattle is slower so you may experience low meat production over time.

  1. Hair And Horn Issues 

The highland cattle health problems are several but hair and hour issues are frequent. If they are kept in wet mountainous conditions, their hair at 13 inches long is prone to getting muddy and matted. This is not a great look when trying to present the best version of your herd at the sale barn. Therefore, extra maintenance is needed to prep them for sale.

  1. Health  

The traditional Highland has an incredible immune system and sound body structure. Combine this with an even temperature not prone to stress, and the result is a breed with few health problems. There are only two main health concerns that most owners will have to worry about namely heat stroke and overgrown hooves.

  1. Poor Heat Tolerance 

The highland cattle temperature tolerance is also one of the disadvantages. The temperature above the thermoneutral zone for cattle will cause them to expend energy to cool their bodies. Immediate and obvious signs of this include an increased respiration rate, increased heart rate, and panting. The animal uses extra energy, but at the same time, their feed intake is lowered.

Now, you know the disadvantages. Let’s know what are highland cattle good for by knowing their advantages.

Advantages Of Highland Cattle 

The advantages of highland cattle are, 

  • Availability 
  • Affordable prices 
  • Remarkable tolerance of long-distance shipping 
  • Temperament suitable for beginners 
  • Extreme hardiness 
  • Hardiness against predators 
  • Exceptional cold tolerance 
  • Self-sufficiency 
  • Ability to thrive on poor pastures 
  • Good meat yield 
  • Fine texture 
  • Very lean beef 
  • High butterfat content 
  • Excellent mothering instincts 
  • High survival rates 
  • Calving ease 

Everything has its disadvantages on Disadvantagess you will get to know more.


How Cold Is Too Cold For Highland Cows?

Both hair and fat are good insulators against the cold. Virtually all British breeds of cattle will do fine until temperatures drop below 20-30 degrees F. It is claimed that Highland cattle will not have to increase feed intake until temperatures drop below 18-20 degrees F.

Can Highland Cattle Be Aggressive?

Highland cattle have a good reputation for their even and calm temperament. But like most cattle, this breed can become aggressive when directly threatened, challenged, or annoyed. The bulls are also more aggressive than the cows on average.

How Much Land Do You Need For 2 Highland Cows?

To rear standard size cows, you’ll need to provide approximately 1.8 acres per cow, depending on crop rotation and quality of land.

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Do Highland Cows Need Cold Weather?

Highlands require little in the way of shelter, feed supplements, or expensive grains to achieve and maintain good condition and fitness. In fact, Highland cattle seem to enjoy conditions in which many other breeds would perish. Cold weather and snow have little effect on them.

Can You Drink Highland Cow Milk?

While Highland cattle are primarily recognized as a beef breed, they nevertheless can potentially be put to use as a family milk cow. Naturally, milk production from a Highland cow won’t compete with that of a dedicated dairy breed, but Highland milk is rich and possesses a high butterfat content.


While reading this article you got much about highland cattle. Still, you may be curious to know more about them. How much does it cost to feed a highland cow? You may buy the cow for a few thousand, but be prepared to buy a two-horse trailer for vet visits, set aside close to a grand for hay each year, close to three hundred for cattle feed every few months, and extra for various health supplements you may need. Now, you got everything about highland cattle especially the disadvantages of highland cattle

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