An Introduction to Miniature Highland Cattle

Leaving for the mainland

Highland Cattle roamed the highlands of Scotland from time immemorial, developing naturally as a self-sufficient, majestic animal and pure breed.  They epitomize the Celtic culture: strong, hardy, tenacious and prepared to last.  They are one of the oldest registered breed of cattle known but they remain virtually unchanged from their wild state.  Unlike most modern cattle they are not created by combining breeds.  Highland Cattle were used for beef and dairy needs, their thick hides made excellent leather and they could also be used as beasts of burden.

Brought up by the North Sea coast of Scotland, they had to adapt to very harsh conditions and sparse feed.  Consequently, they are a browsing breed that is much less finicky about what they eat.  All domestic animals need some amount of care, that includes Highland Cattle, however, their calving ease, mothering ability and generally pleasant nature make them sought after for small farms.

They were brought to the U.S. in the 1800’s and a registry was started here in 1948.  There are only about 5,000 head of full sized Highland Cattle in the U.S. with a strong showing in Washington and Oregon.  Most owners have just a few head to help keep small acreage’s grazed and cleaned up.  They really are very social and bright.  Bright is not always good because that often means clever.  It also means they are great to watch.  They spar, play, talk and really keep your interest.  When mature, usually the girl’s horns go up, the boy’s horns go forward and the steer’s horns go straight out to the sides.  From the front, the newborn calves look just like an Ewok from Star Wars!

Blue Dawn Farm in Oregon purchased its first Highlands in 1990.  Their interest in Miniature Highland Cattle began in 1992 as they noticed that small cattle were easier to handle and seemed to have a more desirable impact on their land.  They also seemed to have greater market appeal. Trembath Mountain Ranch is the successor to BDF.  TMR is located about 45 minutes east of Sacramento, CA.  If you would like to visit TMR, give us a call at (209) 245-6973.


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