Opinion on Highlands

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by boyd5212, May 31, 2006.

  1. boyd5212

    boyd5212 Member

    Messages:
    11
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Location:
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    We're people new to cattle--country people, so not totally blind. We're wanting to raise our own beef, and are set on Highlands and have appropriate fenced pasture to accomodate approximately 3-5 head.

    We're looking for opinions of what ages we should start with, and whether we should start with bull, cow, heifer, etc.

    Thanks!
     
  2. milkinpigs

    milkinpigs Dairy/Hog Farmer

    Messages:
    508
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Location:
    Catlett Creek Hog Farm Unit 1
    Please don't take this as criticism;I was wonder why you chose the Highland breed,as others here choose devons.Do you feel you will be more satisfied with your choice than a mor common breed such as an angus? I mean no disrespect, just was intersted in what helped you mke your breed selection. Good luck with your cattle.
     

  3. RedTartan

    RedTartan Icelandic Sheep Supporter

    Messages:
    3,344
    Joined:
    May 2, 2006
    Location:
    Northeast Ohio
    They're beautiful :) At least they appear to be to those of us who can boast to be of scottish decent...

    :) RedTartan
     
  4. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    542
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2004
    Location:
    Arkansas
    We just got into Highlands this year. We bought 5 heifers (2 "maybe" bred that had bull calves about a month ago), and a friend bought a bull calf (he can't raise anything for meat, both him and his wife make pets out of everything).

    We got into them because they are a primitive breed that don't need all the fancy feed nor the various chemicals (worming etc.), and because they have "smaller" calves, can calf all by themselves. They also browse as well as graze (something most cattle don't do).

    They do take longer to get to butcher size (so it takes 1 more year to get to the same place as Angus or Herefords etc... then we will be selling the same as the other breeds). They are a bit smaller (about 2/3rds the size of the other beef breeds), but you can buy the hide back from the butcher, and have it tanned and sell it also so you make the same price (or even more) than selling Angus or Hereford steer as meat.

    Ours (and was true of all three farms we looked at) are almost as docile as milk cows (but, as another thread said, don't come between the momma and her young until she's ready). I have noticed if something is strange, they form a circle with the 2 bull calves in the middle. They also will have one "guard" cow on the bank with the rest of them in the pond. (all 5 will be wet when they come up to the corral though).

    I think for a homesteading operation, they are one of the best breeds. We're very pleased with our purchase and are more then willing to suggest them to other people.

    Pat
     
  5. affenpinschermom

    affenpinschermom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    289
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    We chose highlands to help support a minor breed, because they are just beautiful to look at, great mothers, low cholesterol beef, hides make gorgeous rugs and they are hardy. In over 20 years we have NEVER pulled a calf. When we moved to our present location we sold our first herd and decided to try something different. Well, after looking at the possiblilities, guess what we bought, another herd of highlands.
     
  6. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

    Messages:
    1,642
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2004
    Location:
    Along the Stillaquamish, Washington
    Since we only have 3 acres we started small and will try to stay that way. I have loved the look of Highlands ever since I saw some when I was a kid and had been buying Highland beef for a couple of years before we moved out of town. We started with a young cow on her second pregnancy and a weaned steer. Beth cost $1000, Mr Tallman $400 ($1/lb). The first year Beth gave us Nigel, the second year Orlando and the third Serenity (finally a girl!). We sold 1/2's of Tallman and Nigel for $5/lb with no complaints. Orlando will be all ours as we didn't get a beef for next year. Serenity sold for $1450! Beth will be due sometime in June. A month after the calf is born she'll go back up to where we bought her to be field covered by the bull, that's why we can't give her a delivery date.
    Highlands are no longer a "minor" breed, they are number five in popularity for beef breeds. They don't take all that much longer to mature than other beef breeds 22 to 26 months. Orlando came to 402 hanging weight at 24 months. There is some effort being made to breed for larger beasts whcih I find to be very misguided. As for care, they are the easiest. They love browse and will but on weight on marginal feed. They do need to be wormed, twice a year with pour-on Ivermec. They halter train easily, they enjoy human company, they get along well with other livestock and its not necessary to keep guard dogs for them. They also calve easily, and yes you need to be careful for the first few weeks after the calf is born, Mom does not brook interferance.
    You've made the right choice!
     
  7. lilsassafrass

    lilsassafrass Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    143
    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Location:
    ohio
    I always tell folks who are interested in raising /keeping highlands to start with a few young heifers either halter trained or ones that you can do so yourself (if it dont walk off the back of the trailer on the end of a rope dont get it :)
    that way you can get to know them well. when they reach an age ready for breeding then if you want to get a bull look for one of good nature from someone who is ready to retire one ...or find a yearling who would be old enough to service a few cows .
    during that time you are learning about your cows , can get involved with the breed association , attend a show or exibition or so .. meet other highland breeders (or better still do these first )

    Paula
    Hyde Park Farm
     
  8. phantompark

    phantompark Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    118
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2003
    Excellent choice.
    Be very careful of "wild ones". Run the other direction. That comes from experience.
    Find a breeder who halter trains their stock if you want something you can work with. A calf or pregnant cow has worked well for us when we bring in new stock.
    If you do get a calf, wait till they are 3 years old to breed them. We were at a farm a few weeks ago and saw some cows that were bred at 2 and they were small. The pregnancy stunted their bone growth. So buying calves for future breeding could put your meat production off for quite a few years. It does take longer to "get them up to size" for butchering. So if you wait till 24-30 months for butchering, you have to carry them over for 2 winters. Plus momma has had another calf that year. You could start with 2 head and then have 6 a few years later before you have anything to size for butchering.
    We have a bull because our "old" girls NEVER show signs of heat. They are very reserved and private about it.
    Like the posts above. Mom's are VERY protective, NEVER EVER underestimate one. We've culled mom's that weren't protective.
     
  9. lilsassafrass

    lilsassafrass Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    143
    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Location:
    ohio
    Actually it is perfectly acceptable to breed at two to calve at three ,
    If you see to their nutrition during that time .. contrary to popular belief
    although highlands are brushers it doesnt mean they will thrive on that diet alone ( As the old advertising of AHCA would have led many people to believe ) they will exsist. they do that because they are a sturdy breed
    highland cows mature very early in terms of puberty .. but it will take as much as four years for frame size to reach maturity with some of the bloodlines .. thats maturity . not readiness for butcher
    few breeds of cattle are left to mature to full size before they are butchered
    highlands are no different , it so happens that most of the bloodlines out there are a smaller or medium sized framed animal , the ones who are not are bred for show or as in the case of some of the larger ranches feed feedlot, hence it behooves those folks to breed for a an animal that reaches a large frame size earlier .
    some folks tout breeding at a long year to calve at two .. i have tried that
    it works , but i have found in my situation that almost always I will loose the following years breeding for that animal .. At two she is trying to put on frame size and it doesnt become cost effective to feed what it takes to keep her growing at a good clip as well as the calf .. and you will find that her development will be delayed .. in my experience .
    Far easier to wait till they are two .. at least

    Paula
    Hyde Park Farm