Our first pedigree highland cows were purchased in the old Inverness market by the station in 1985. Additional local purchases over the next few years meant we grew to a dozen Highlanders. Since then we have not bought in another cow. To maintain a closed herd we alternate every three or four years between a Highland and a Shorthorn bull. This gives us the calves we want. Ten years ago we started using a Luing bull and our cows are now 95% Luing. This is another popular local breed and our surplus heifers sell well in the Spring Dingwall Auction sale. We have also started using a Simmental bull to breed well shaped stotts to fatten whilst we have found the SimxLuing heifers are also popular.
Today Luing cattle make up our main breeding heard. The Luings are the youngest breed in the British isles and are a hybrid of the hardy hairy Highland cow (3/8) and the longer leaner Shorthorn bull (5/8). The Shorthorn adds size conformation and quality of meat to the resilient and easy calving attributes of the Highland cow.
As a result we keep 50 Luing cows on the farm. And it is from these that we breed all of our own heifer replacements. All cows on the farm are out wintered on good silage and hay forage from the farm. Calving is all outdoors in the woods.
Is there anything more typical of Scotland than a Highland cow? They have been bred in the north and west of Scotland since the sixth century because of their hardy and self-sufficient nature.
We keep 10 of these cows and they are very horny! This is the source of all our original breeding stock. Just like the main mob of luing cattle they are out wintered and calf outside. Due to their pure nature we can cross them with the Shorthorn bull, which begins the process of breeding a Luing cow.