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Scottish Moo Coo - Scottish Highland Cattle
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© Christine Till
Scottish Highland cattle are the oldest registered breed of cattle with a Herd Book being published in 1885. They lived for centuries in the rugged remote Scottish Highlands. The extremely harsh conditions created a process of natural selection, where only the fittest and most adaptable animals survived to carry on the breed.
They have a long, close history of living with humans. Early Scots would keep the cows downstairs to provide warmth for the family on the second story and to make sure the neighbors didn't help themselves to the family's wealth. Regardless of where they are located today, Highland cattle can always trace their ancestry to Scotland.
Scotch Highland Cattle seem to enjoy harsh conditions in which many other breeds would perish. It is not unusual to see Highlands grazing a day or two after a winter storm with snow still melting off their backs. Their double coat of hair (long, coarse, outer layer and soft wooly inner layer) means that the animals do not have to produce a layer of fat to stay warm.
The Scottish Moo Coo is calm, does not stress easily, and is easy to work with despite its long horns. The horns are used primarily for knocking down brush to graze on, predator control and scratching. Horns on females are generally upswept and finer textured than are the males. Male horns are more forward pointing and massive. Cows are noted for being highly devoted and protective mothers.
Highlands eat what other cattle pass by ... and get fat on it! Highlander cows will average 900-1200 pounds when mature. Bulls will average from 1500 to 2000 pounds. Unlike other breeds, they are slow maturing which makes their meat fine textured, succulent, exceptionally tender and of high flavour.
The British Royal family keeps a large herd of Highlands at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, and considers them their beef animal of choice. A rare opportunity for commoners to eat like royalty.
August 29th, 2012
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