Scottish Highland Cattle is a multi-purpose breed. While current interest in the breed in New Zealand is as a minor breed renown for their visual appeal, with sweeping horns, its shaggy coat and distinctive dossen falling as a fringe over its eyes, there are genuine advantages to expanding this breed.
Suitability for lifestyle block owners
Due to their smaller stature and docile nature Highland cattle are well suited to lifestyle blocks. More Highlands can be run per hectare than a traditional beef breed, such as Angus or Hereford. In practice, this means that with a lower stocking rate, you can make better use of limited pasture. Lifestylers can find themselves victim of adverse conditions, such as prolonged wet or drought, limiting feed availability. However, experience shows that Highlands will hold their condition longer than other breeds, provided you are not drastically overstocked in the first place.
Highlands are not "picky" when it comes to feed. They can do well in rougher conditions.
Low impact on sensitive ground
Being a lighter animal, Highland cattle do not pug pasture as badly as a larger breed at a similar stocking. Due to this they can also graze in steeper, more sensitive country, as well as wetlands, subject to sensible land management practice.
Meat, milk and pelt
Highland cattle's versatility extends to their outputs.
Highland cattle fit the bill for beef production. Though smaller than commercial breeds and being slower to mature in practice Highlands produce a higher percentage carcass weight outturn and the meat is lower in cholesterol with very good marbling which contributes to excellent cooking properties.
Highland cattle were milked in Scotland. Practicalities of modern dairy systems mean we are not likely to see horned cattle in commercial herds, however the option is there for an enthusiast to keep a quiet house cow or two for the family's needs.
The magnificent coat of the Highland cattle has a certain appeal for decoration or furnishing.