MrBill wrote:deMolay, just playing the Devil's advocate here, but if these Scottish Highlands were such a great all around breed as you claim then I am wondering why the wholesale switch to larger breeds, hard calvers, etc.? Does this simply reflect a switch to feeder cattle that will then be sent to a feedlot? Thanks for any input. Cheers.
p.s. peak oil or no peak oil I hope to raise Belgium draught horses some day for work and for pleasure.
The reason that Scottish Highland cattle have been forsaken for the larger breeds is the fact that they finish with a smaller carcass and they take longer to get there. Most production-minded farmers want a large carcass that they can get there on less feed for more profitiability. In the coming hard times, it would make sense to raise Highland cattle because they are more self-sufficient than the larger breeds because they can get fat on marginal pasture and browse. Having access to good hay and finishing with corn may be harder in the coming years. The Highland is also superior in cold climates. I've driven past Highlands laying chewing their cuds in a snowstorm completely covered in snow and seemingly doing quite well. They don't really need a shelter as they are happy to lay out in bad weather. They are a primitive breed with one of the oldest registry books on record.
In warmer climates, the Highland has been crossed with Brahman cattle to add some warm weather resiliance as well.
Highlands cross well with the heavy beef breeds such as Hereford and Angus producing a larger carcass while maintaining the hardiness of the Highland breed.