Argyllshire is the home of many well-known and long-established folds (herds) of Highland cattle. No one knows the exact origin of Scotland’s distinctive shaggy haired breed of cattle but perhaps they go back to a strain of cattle that were brought over to northern Britain in the Neolithic times.
Whatever their origin West Highland cattle have changed little over the past 300 or so years, except that the majority were then black. These black ‘kyloes’, as they were known, were smaller than the present day cattle which now have a wide range of colours – red, yellow, brindle, dun and white.
Highland cattle are very popular today in this area as they are able to live and calve outside all year round. Their thick double layered coats form effective barriers against the wind and rain. The outer layer is long and strong to resist the rain and the dry soft under coat keeps them warm. As a breed they are even tempered, with the bulls keeping a close eye on their fold. The cows, very protective of their newly born calves, are normally placid as well.
Highland cattle have been exported to many countries including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, America, Australia, Sweden and Switzerland. They are not only popular for their good looks but are very efficient grazers of rough herbage and ultimately produce a delicious, natural, almost organic beef.
This breed is not just a pretty picture!