Why choose highlands?

If you like the idea of strikingly beautiful, docile, low maintenance cattle that have several potential income streams, then you need look no further.

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Great Looks

With their distinctive hairy coat and long horns, the beauty of the Highland is apparent from the first time you lay eyes on them.

They are an ancient breed from the Highlands in Scotland that have changed very little over the centuries. Whether it’s the almost prehistoric, majestic appearance of a mature cow or bull, or the incredibly adorable calves, the most common reason people get started with Highland cattle is their visual appeal.

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Low Maintenance

While most people start with Highlands because of their visual appeal, the reason breeders stay with the Highlands is their docile temperament, their meat quality and their hardiness, or low maintenance.

Many people comment on how quiet the animals are, especially those who have had a lot to do with cattle. Highland cattle are naturally quiet and can be easily broken in and trained. Many breeders consider this characteristic to be paramount to the future of the breed. Beyond their looks are some incredibly hardy characteristics that mean you do not have to fuss with them too much.

They appear to be disease resistant compared with many other breeds—for example they rarely get pink eye (an eye infection that can result in blindness), or eye cancers because their dossan (fringe) covers their eyes and protects it from the sun and flies.

They calve easily, because of lower birth weights, and so it is uncommon to come across birthing problems.

They are generally well put together animals, and because of this excellent structure, they are less likely to break down as they get older. Highland cows are well known to have a calf each year until they are 15—20 years old or more. I have an 18 year old cow that is due to calve in 2018.

Can any other bovine breed lay claims to being as productive and fertile for this sort of time span? Economically, this means at least double the number of calves per breeding female over their life span, compared with other commercial breeds.

The cows have excellent mothering abilities. While they will fiercely defend their calves from predators, with time and trust they will allow you near their calves. You may even notice a cow in the fold butting away another cow’s calf. This helps teach the calf that the only one who will look after them is their own mother.

Their hardiness also extends to their appetite. While they still need feed to survive, they appear to forage better than other cattle. That is, they eat a lot wider variety of plant species - all the grass species, some weeds, bushes and trees. Some Highland cattle are known to eat thistles, box thorn and even prune any overhanging trees.

Basically, in the tougher country, they will do better than European breeds and the other British breeds because they are used to eating the rougher plants and converting them to energy. Just think what they are used to doing in the highlands of Scotland with nothing but heather to survive on.

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Income Streams

While it is unlikely that a smaller beef property will turn a handsome profit with any breed on it, Highlands allow you to diversify your income.

The resale of the beasts themselves is mainly for heifers and cows. The steers, dehorned or not, are desired as pets by some people who like their looks and docility but do not want the hassle of breeding.

All but the top 5% of bull calves are best made into steers. But some bulls can be sold to commercial herds, especially dairy herds, because of their smaller birth weights and muscling.

These animals have been used as attractions at various tourist venues in Australia as well. The historic homestead on Churchill Island in Victoria has a fold and Tarraleah in Tasmania has a fold of these beautiful animals to welcome people to their resort.
For a period of time, Highlands were also included among the animals at Adelaide Zoo.

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What About the Meat?

The meat is well known to be lean and therefore lower in cholesterol, as well as being as tender as you can get.

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Hides

The hides are popular floor coverings, for that warm, earthy feel. Because of the different colours in the cattle, there are various coloured hides that you can market as well.

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Horns

Polished horns are also desired by individuals, bars or taverns that want this style of wall ornament. With all this to offer, why would you choose any other breed?

But Who or What is Glenstrae?

About Us

We purchased our first two cows in calf, Cailleach & Dorien in December 2012, with the intention of building our fold slowly with the progeny of our foundation cows.

In March 2013, our first two calves were born - both bulls. Being the impatient sort, I then purchased a further three cows in calf, Isobail, Fraoch and Socair.
In October 2013, our first two heifers were born, Nighean Odhar (Zelda) & Iseabail Bhuidhe (Bella). These two have been retained as the future of our fold.
In May 2015, Lord Addams, a.k.a. Pugsley arrived. Pugsley was named Junior Champion & Grand Champion Bull at the 2016 National Show.
In May 2016, the first calf bred using a Glenstrae bull and cow was born - Bonnie Ceitidh May of Glenstrae.
The future looks bright with this wee lassie.

As is the case with many, our first interaction with Highlands took place on a visit to Scotland. After we decided to relocate to Victoria from Queensland, where we bred Brahmans, we knew we wanted cattle of some sort, but needed to find a breed that would suit the Victorian climate.
Because of the Scottish experience, we started investigating Highlands, mostly for their rugged good looks. But we soon discovered that not only did they look good, but they were reported to be pretty tasty as well.

Further investigations revealed their quiet temperament, something which was a vital component in our decision making as our family consists of two people with special needs.
So with the decision made, it was time to track down some quality animals and then registered as a fold.

Our family is part of the MacGregor clan, so our first choice in a fold name was Glenstrae, a place significant in Clan Gregor history.
Originally our intention was to breed boutique beef, but it soon became clear that our focus was more on producing good quality, true to form Highlands, suitable as pets for use on small acreages.
Our first two pet steers, Buadhach and Chewbacca, were sold to an 8 year old from northern Victoria.

Our calves are interacted with daily, and are quite used to machines, other animals, and a rambunctious now five year old who thinks nothing of sharing their food. All of this just adds to their naturally quiet temperament.

Our goal is to ensure people wanting the rugged good looks of a Highland beast on their property, can do so with quiet animals, halter trained, who are able to be brushed and petted without fear.