As an independent species, the Scottish highland cow has been known for over 200 years. Animals have an unusual shaggy appearance. At home in Scotland, these good-natured, hairy cows are called Highland cows. After all, the place of their "registration" is called Highland - a mountainous region, where, according to legend, these cows came out. Since in Russia this breed of cattle is not cultivated, people know little about it. We will tell about its characteristics and merits, as well as debunk some myths.
Why borenka fur coats
Often, our man is not ready for such an unusual cow decoration. People far from livestock, take these cows for yaks or buffalo, however, these are the real cows. Just where they come from is a rather harsh and changeable alpine climate. A thick double-layer fur coat protects animals not only from cold, but also from piercing raw wind.
Each of the layers of a fur coat has its own purpose. So, the long (up to 30 cm) outer hair is covered with fat and does not let in moisture, and the dense undercoat protects the cow from cold and wind.
In addition, one of the distinctive features of Highland cows is their luxurious and long bangs, almost completely covering their eyes. On the one hand, it protects from rain and snow. And on the other hand, it plays the role of a peculiar anti-mosquito net, not letting insects to the cow’s eyes.
Classic are two main colors of animals. Black cows live on the outer islands of the Hebrides, and on the Scottish Highlands the color of the cows is brown.
After the merger of the Hebrides and the North-Scottish branches in the late XIX century, variegated and even white cows appeared.
Highland - a breed of cows purely meat direction. The dairy component in animals is poorly developed. During the annual lactation period, the yield of the high-mountain Burenka barely reaches 1500 liters. If in the past the Scots still somehow cut out some milk for themselves, then now it all goes to feed the young.
By the way, the shaggy highland calf, along with kilts and bagpipes, is now being replicated as one of the attractions of Scotland. Kids really look like soft toys and cause affection, than cunning advertisers did not fail to take advantage of.
The main value of a Highland cow is its high-quality, dietary meat. The fat content, and most importantly - cholesterol, is very low there. Animals are kept in natural conditions, close to the wild nature, so their meat resembles game to taste. On top of that, the level of iron and proteins in such meat is much higher than that of regular and even marbled beef.
Since the cows in search of food are forced to constantly run through the mountains, their legs are very powerful, strong and short. Animals can boast large and sharp horns. Unlike our cows, they use horns both as a weapon and as a tool for getting food. We present the main parameters and denote external signs:
- the weight of Highland cows ranges from 450-550 kg;
- shaggy Scottish bull weighs about 700-800 kg;
- breeding bulls grow up to 130 cm, and the growth of animals of the main livestock often does not exceed 110-120 cm;
- have a large beautiful head with wide-set eyes;
- neck straight, medium size, bulls pronounced ridge;
- wide and deep chest, but no dewlap;
- the back is rounded.
Cows are distinguished by good health and strong immunity. Most of the diseases inherent in cattle for this breed are not terrible. Alpine cows have repeatedly tried to cross with other breeds of cattle, but no significant success was achieved.
This breed of cattle belongs to the late and matures for quite a long time. Bulls reach a normal slaughter weight of 600-700 kg not earlier than 2.5 years. And the point here is not even in the weight itself, just the meat at that age has optimally balanced characteristics.
The heifers also grow long, they start giving birth after an average of 3 years at 38-39 months. But then their reproductive age can last up to 18 years. Shaggy cows live much longer than their sisters from the mainland. Natural death comes in 25-27 years. The truth is that nobody holds them for so long, because after the end of reproductive age, the buren's meat becomes unsuitable for eating.
Sturdy calves shaggy cows can not boast. More precisely, the health of young animals is good, but the mass leaves much to be desired. Thus, the maximum weight of the heifers at birth does not exceed 22 kg, the bulls are a little heavier - about 25 kg.
Nutrition and content
Furry cows are freedom-loving, they do not accept the content on a leash. In their homeland in Scotland, farmers do not even build capital facilities. Breeders simply enclose fairly large areas and equip along the perimeter of several covered pens. All year round, the cows live in the open air and sleep almost on bare ground.
In feed, cows are unpretentious, they literally eat everything that grows. Hard weeds and even thorny bushes will not eat continental breeds, and Scottish furred cows do not refuse them.
People began to use this non-picky diet to restore pastures trampled by herds of goats and sheep. Highlands are thrown out onto such fields, they tear the sod with their horns and eat hard bedding. After which the violent growth of forage grasses resumes. For example, the Czechs have been using this method for many years to restore protected meadows.
Like many years ago, the largest population of woolly cows is in their homeland in Scotland. There, these cows are not only a source of expensive dietary meat, they are actively promoted as one of the attractions of the country. If you believe the statistics, the income from tourists who want to look at the local exotic in natural conditions, is already approaching the income from the sale of meat.
As for Europe, a rather large herd is kept in Czechoslovakia. Here the main goal - the restoration of fields and meadows. In other European countries, these cows are actively trying to breed Scandinavians and residents of the mountainous alpine villages.
At this point, Canada and some parts of the United States can compete with Scotland in breeding and industrial exploitation of shaggy cows. In Russia, there are practically none. A couple of farms in the Moscow region are breeding Highlands, but there is no reason to talk about any industrial scale.
And if you buy
Advertising does its job and the Scottish cow is slowly moving from the category of exotic to the category of industrial livestock. The animal is strong, unpretentious in food and not demanding to the conditions of detention. Perhaps the only minus of shaggy cows is the impossibility of keeping them in warm and especially hot areas. Highlands like coolness, and in the heat they start to hurt.
Now enthusiasts of the northern regions of Russia, as well as Siberia, the Urals and the Far East, are showing interest in this breed of cows. At the moment, an exotic shaggy calf in the suburbs can be bought for 7,000 euros. In Europe, such a calf can be taken for 500-1000 euros. But taking into account customs peripetias and transportation costs, the amount can grow up to 4000.
To buy an unusual shaggy Scottish cow in our country is certainly an interesting decision, especially for residents of cold climates.
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