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North of the Hi-Line
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I've been researching the Highland breed for three years now. I've read all I could from private sites off the web, but I still have questions. In the event I buy back a cow herd again, I would like some of them to be Highlands. They will obviously be cold hearty enough for my area, but how do they take many consecutive days of high 90's and 100's? Will they shed off the majority of thier coats for the summer? Will they loose all spunk and just veggitate in the shade on warmer days? Are they known for holding any commercial value? Do thier horns cause difficulties in handling, such as alley ways and chutes? What can a guy expect to pay for registered breeding stock? How well do they obey fences? I think thats all my questioning right now. Anxious to hear any answers.

Does anyone have any pics to share as well? Thanks!
 

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Ours tend to spend time in the pond during the hottest part of the day. They really don't shed their hair either.

Highlands seem to know exactly where their horns are. We only have a horse trailer, and while their horns won't fit through the door, they will turn their heads so they can get in.

Never had a problem with them and our fences.

Biggest problem is it takes another year to get to market size. The next biggest problem is because they are only 2/3rds the size of a "normal" beef cow; they don't do well at auction house. But, because they are touted (and proven) to be healthier than "normal" beef, the meat sells well (at a premium) in college towns (or other places where there are many health conscious people).

Pat
 

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They are a poor choice if you are going to market them thru normal channels. You'll have more time and feed in them per pound than the commercial varieties. Horns are a big negative, too. It is hard to get more per pound hanging weight that the traditional varieties. The market for older, less marbled, beef is small. Healthy, grass fed, low colestrol is part of the promotion for Highlands, Bison and razor-back hogs. A tender, juicy New York Strip is part of the promotion for grain fed Angus. You might notice, Angus is winning.

If you are in the right area and have the skills and ambition to create a demand for this speciality breed, you could make Scottish Highlands a profitable choice. Create a web page, advertize, make up informational flyers, put on displays.

I think we are on the far side of the Highland craze and those that made money on them have since gotten out and moved on. Not unlike the Angora goat, Emu and silver fox. I could be wrong, you'll have to decide for yourself.
 

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Joel--

Medicine Rocks ranch uses 2 longhorns and a highland bull for their breeding program. You might want to buy your heifers from them. They are crossed onto black cows.

And Angus beef is only a 50% black animal that goes through the packing plant gate and only 50% of those animals have any angus in them and they only average 25% angus blood.

Most of the beef here in MT is 100% grass fed anyway.
 

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Our neighbor has them and he does really well selling butchered beef locally. But, when they go through the sale ring they are discounted more than longhorns. We bought highland beef occationaly from the neighbor, most were crossbreds. It was almost too gamey for our taste, when he went to full highlands and grassfed we wouldn't buy any from him after that. That's not to say it's not good if that is the kind of meat you like to eat.

Bobg
 

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North of the Hi-Line
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well thanks for the info guys. I figured the horns would be a serious dockage just like any other horned beef that runs through the ring. I didn't realize that they were that slow at maturing though. I would plan on raising this breed for brood stock and meat on the side.

Another question: on average, how long do a cow's horns stretch?

Also, does anyone have a price average on this breed?
 

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I'm a fairly new Highland cattle owner but I'd like to dispel at least one myth. They are a bit less feed efficient and take a bit longer to finish than some of the other breeds but the meat, if finished properly, is NOT gamey or tough. Grain them like the beef that you buy at the grocery store and you'll have very tender, very delicious and mild beef. I've butchered 3 this year. The first two weren't grained very heavily but were grained some for about 60 days. I would give them a 5 on the tenderness scale from 1 to 10 and a 9 on the flavor scale (with 10 being the optimum).

The last one that we butchered was grained a bit longer and a bit harder, for about 90 days and I'd give it an 8 on the tenderness scale and a 9 on the flavor scale. It was truly some of the best beef I've ever eaten and I'm pretty hard to satisfy and know a good steak when I taste one. For what it's worth, I'm a big fan of a well-marbled, tender steak, I'm no grass fed beef proponent. We sold halves or quarters to 4 different customers this year and they all raved, even though 3 of the 4 had previously bought "home grown" beef and were unhappy with it.
 

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We've raised them for over 20 years, first in the U.P. of Michigan and now here in S.Central Ky. They have been nothing but a positive experience. We've always had a market for the calves and the beef. It's excellent beef. they are great browsers, so I don't find them any more expensive to raise. We never finish ours out on grain anymore. We used to, but we like the grass fed beef. If aged properly it dresses out tender and tasty.
 

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Take a breed of cow that has been bred for hundreds of years to survive harsh weather and low quality pastures, then raise it like an Angus or Hereford. Pour the corn to it. It isn't as efficient with corn as other breeds and when you fatten it up, you can't make the claim that it is lower in cholesterol than other breeds.

Perhaps you want to raise them for brood stock and sell some meat, too? Why pick Highlands? Smaller, slower growing, horns and a ton of hair.

I guess I don't get the point. Sorry, I wasn't counting the novelty factor. Perhaps you would be interested in some fainting goats, too.
 

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MTplainsman, you and I have very similar climates and I find that they shed out quite a bit in summer and I don't feel they have any problems with the heat because it comes gradually and in the winter, they really do thrive but you are looking at a smaller carcass. I found that instead of running them through auction, I made fantastic money selling sides into the city. Perhaps you might want to try breeding your heifers to a highland bull and try keeping a few heifers back to breed or try and find yourself a couple highland cross heifers and see how they work for you.
 

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We had highlands for years and just got out of the business due to the husband's health. We loved the beef and thought it was the most flavorful we have ever had. We never had any trouble selling the calves at weaning for anything from $800 to $1,200. We never sold any at the sale barn but know they don't bring much. Folks who buy there are just not looking for highlands. You have to go the direct market route for the beef and calves. We found them to be very efficient because we never grained them. They ate whatever was growing and when in drought, they turned to trees and still stayed fat. Great mothers, we never lost a calf. They are slow to mature and they are small but we certainly loved raising them, loved the beef, and had no trouble selling them so you decide.
 

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I did not read the other responses so forgive me if I restate whats already been said. This is my bread of choice accept for milk. LOL
Anyway, they tolerate heat very well. So long as water is plentiful. Ive known of several herds in Texas and a few in Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Mexico, So that would lead me to believe you will do fine in Montana.
 
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