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Crossbreeding with Highland Cattle

As Brood Cows

Crossbred cow and calf

A Highland-Hereford cow can barely see over the back of her growthy Highland-sired calf.

In Scotland, Highlands have traditionally been crossed with the Whitebred Shorthorn. The crossbred females were retained as "hill cattle" and bred to either Hereford or Angus bulls, but this choice has now widened to include the continental breeds.

The Highland cross female is of moderate size, hardy with a long productive life and, when mated to a fast growing sire, produces a very saleable calf while keeping cow maintenance costs to a minimum.

At the Range Livestock Substation, Manyberries, Alberta*, it was demonstrated that Highlands cross well with Hereford. First-cross steer calves exceeded the Hereford in growth rate and equalled them in carcass characteristics.

First-cross Highland-Hereford cows were hardy, excellent mothers, and from yearlings up had high conception rates. They were among the best of all breeds and crosses produced at Manybrerries, weaning a high percentage calf crop (number of calves weaned per cows exposed to bull). It was experienced at Manyberries that when they got a Highland cow bred, they were almost sure to get a weaned calf from her.

*Experiments performed by John E. Lawson, CDA Research Station, Lethbridge, Alberta.


The Highland

With the Highland's long history as a pure breed there is little doubt that it has been used, over time, to add an injection of hardiness to other breeds.This influence has been documented as far away as the mountains of central France where Highlands were crossed with the native Salers breed.

The most recent use of Highlands is with the Luing cattle, developed by the Cadzow Brothers of Scotland. The breed contains 5/8 shorthorn and 3/8 Highland blood. Luing is the first new British breed developed in over 100 years.


Carcass Merits

Highland meat is fine grained and well marbled.

Considering the small number of Highland cattle that have entered carcass competitions, the results are impressive. For example, the Stroh family of Colorado have won Grand Champion or Reserve Grand Champion, in at least one category of the "Hanging Beef Carcass" contest at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, for 22 out of the 25 years they entered.

Highlands and their crosses have the ability to produce a quality meat product without the excessive external fat of other breeds.

Producers who wish to utilize roughland pastures to produce the lean, healthy beef that is presently in such high demand by consumers, should breed Highlands.

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