Highland cows are fascinating animals, with their calm, shaggy exterior endearing them to people around the world. They have a very unique look that sets them apart from other species of cow, which can help them to survive in tough weather conditions. This appearance lends itself to the work of many artists, with colours and textures that are a joy to look at.
The highland cow is known for being docile and quite easy to handle, an instantly recognisable animal that is fairly close to the nature of a domestic pet. We have taken a closer look into the life of the highland cow to offer some interesting facts that will make them even more loveable.
Highland cows were originally mostly black in colour. The Victorians prefered ginger cows, so they selectively bred them until they were lighter in colour.
The highland cow is the oldest breed of cattle in the world, having been first mentioned in the 6th century.
They originated in the Scottish Highlands, but can now be found in the USA, Europe, Canada and Australia.
They’re long, tough, fluffy hair helps to protect them during tough winter conditions, allowing any rain or snow to slide off.
Highland cows tread lightly on the ground than heavier, standard cows, so are more eco-friendly. This helps to protect small wildlife and plants.
Although not enough for commercial use, a highland cow can produce up to 2 gallons of milk per day.
The highland cow has the nickname of fluffy cow!
They love to make friends with other highland cows, showing their affection by licking and play-fighting with each other.
Their handlebar shaped horns are used when foraging for food in the snow, as well as for protecting themselves against predators.
A males horn is thicker and will curve forward. A female horn is thinner and will curve upwards.
Males will rank above females in the herd hierarchy, with the males ranked in age from oldest to youngest.
The males are called bulls and the females are called cows.
A group of highland cows is referred to as a herd or a fold.
The highland cow will spend around 8 hours a day grazing.
They can eat up to 75kg of grass each day.
The highland cow has a longer life expectancy than traditional cows, living for up to 20 years.
They can travel at around 25 miles per hour.
Highland cows love humans and enjoy their attention.
The female will carry her calf for around 9 to 10 months before giving birth.
They are herbivores, eating grass, flowers, plants and leaves.