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 equaled 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 in 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.
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.
The following pictures are a good example of crossbred Highlands. Thanks to Alex Dixon, of Prince Edward Island, for allowing us to publish his photos.