Why Highland Cattle
When we found ourselves with plenty of fenced pasture, we decided to try our hand with hair sheep. All went well for a while, but we never really enjoyed the interactions with the sheep, so we began looking into feeder cows. I’m too much of an animal lover to just bring in calves, fatten them up and haul them off to the butcher. We wanted cows that we could enjoy. We needed cows that would thrive in spite of our novice status. The search continued. We’d read about Highlands, but I was a little nervous about huge animals with horns. None the less, we decided to go visit a Scottish Highland breeder and see these beautiful creatures for ourselves. That was the day we met him . . . Big Ridge Bearnard. Bear came right over and took range cubes from our hands. He was the most beautiful bull I’d ever seen and he was for sale. Knowing little or nothing about raising cattle, we decided on the spot that he had to be a part of our family.
Bear was still busy courting some of the ladies at Big Ridge, but when the season was over, we crossed the mountains into North Carolina and loaded him into our rented trailer for the trip to Elm Hollow Farm. Bear was lonely and we did some scrambling to find him a few companions. We weren’t selective, but we were very fortunate to find a couple of suitable ladies to keep him company. Then the research began and the search for outstanding cows and heifers that would help us build an outstanding fold of breeding cattle we would be proud to have as an Elm Hollow line of Highland Cattle.
We wanted our coos to be calm, approachable and be representative of the original Scottish Highlands. It doesn’t happen overnight, but we are seeing beautiful calves that improve with each generation. Bear, as our herd sire, was a prime example of the best of that heritage. We have purchased beautiful heifers from some of the most recognized breeders in the highland community. We’re still learning, but membership in the AHCA and several regional associations has been very helpful. There is a tremendous amount of information already available and more being published every day about the high quality of Highland beef and the hardiness of the breed. It was the right decision for us.
Bear has moved to a new home now, please read about the changes in the Herd Sires section below.
About Elm Hollow Sires
Big Ridge Bearnard was such a take charge guy.
He was calm, he was gentle and he was respected by the cows. He looked intimidating to those who came to visit, and that is probably a good thing. As we’ve been told . . . HE IS A BULL . . . remember that!!! It is hard sometimes to follow those words of caution, but we do try. Bear was very friendly to us and he loved to be brushed. He came right over anytime we were in the pasture to see if we happened to have treats or better still a nice stiff brush to scratch his back.
It was exciting to watch Bear’s calves being born here at Elm Hollow. They have all been strong and healthy. We anxiously awaited the calving season beginning in November of 2018. Bear did not disappoint us! We had a beautiful crop of babies with the last one born in early March of 2019.
We knew that many of these young heifers were going to be keepers and that we would need to begin the search for the perfect home for our Bear. Expecting that time to be at least two years down the road, we were surprised at the turn of events when Bear’s perfect home appeared in January of 2019.
It was then that we met Red Road’s Rufus, son of Sunset Rebel Yell. Rufus gave us a beautiful bull calf, Elm Hollow’s O’ganach, among many others. More about O’ganach later.
Rufus came to visit Elm Hollow with his son, GAM Jasper and 3 of his beautiful daughters in tow. Like Bear, Rufus and Jasper were calm and easy going but kept the ladies in line. We’re looking forward to a beautiful crop of fall/winter calves in 2019-20! We enjoyed the visit while Rufus and Jasper were here, but were agonizing over a permanent replacement for our Bear.
Still, we knew in our hearts that there was only one bull that could top Bear for his conformation and temperament. His daddy, Big Ridge Voodoo Magic. We had decided that our next breeding season would have to involve AI and began to plan in that direction.
Then, Bill called. He and Kae had reluctantly decided that it was time for them to enter a new chapter in their lives and spend more time with family. In order to do that, they would be doing more traveling and simply had to disperse the Big Ridge fold. We went to visit, and just like our first visit to Big Ridge, it was life changing for us at Elm Hollow. Not only did we add some of the most beautiful Highland cows available, but two outstanding herd sires will now call Elm Hollow Farm their home.
Voodoo Magic is our dream come true. AHCA # 51522
BR Voodoo Magic took over as herd sire in July 2019. We have semen available from Magic, but it is available in the USA only.
Big Ridge Fergus, pictured below, AHCA # 57487, has now been collected and we also have semen available from him.
We have added a third bull, Elm Hollow’s O’ganach, AHCA #60172, who is courting his first ladies at the tender age of 14 months. We plan to have him collected next November and have semen available by 2022. O’ganach is pictured below at 13 months… look at that topline!
For a long time I’ve admired the bulls produced by my good friend, Rosemarie Goad at Windkist Acres in Virginia. It was a shock to me when I got the call that she had decided to disperse her beautiful fold of Highlands. I watched Braxton from the time he was a baby (through pictures shared on FB and in email) and I knew how much he was loved. I also knew the thought and care that had gone into producing this correct bull. As I helped find homes for the cows and younger bulls from Windkist Acres, I wondered if Braxton was going to be offered for sale. He was the special boy with a paddock near the house.
On a rainy day in late December, we went to pick up a younger bull that had been sold and that would leave Braxton by himself. After struggling with that decision for a while, it was finally decided that the big, gentle guy would be happier with cows around him. Braxton was loaded at the last minute and off we went on a slippery ride that landed us in a ditch for a while until the tractor was summoned to help us up the hill. It was December 30th and well after dark when we arrived to unload this last trailer full of gorgeous bulls. Early on the last day of the year I took these pictures of Braxton looking over his new home.
We had definitely been correct in thinking he would be happiest with his own herd of cows to govern, and he went right to work wooing ladies. Braxton isn’t shy and was able to ignore the people outside his pasture as he gently coaxed both seasoned cows and young heifers accept his love. He did a marvelous job and we may have a 100% calf crop this year!
He is such a treasure and Braxton loves to have attention. The brush is one of his favorite things. He would stand for hours and let me comb him from head to toe if my arm didn’t give out halfway through. Here he is one day before we made it all the way down his muddy legs. This turned out to be such a good picture that I submitted as an entry in the International Virtual Highland cattle show later that year. The result are what you see below! Thrilled, stunned, ecstatic all describe my reaction when the judge gave Braxton top honors in his class of all the bulls entered from folds around the world!
Registration of Highland Cattle
When we began this journey, we were not overly concerned with the registration of all cows and just looked at the conformation, the color, the horns etc. to choose our new additions. We were fortunate to have really nice cows. As we learned more, the idea of registration in the official American Highland Cattle Association herd book became more important to us. We reluctantly sold one of my very favorite heifers that was not registered. That was not the only reason though, she was a very small Highland and we were concerned that Bear might be a bit overwhelming for her. We did hang on to one unregistered cow until December of 2018. She was beautiful and there are people who want unregistered highlands, so her calves will always be very well received. Now we have our entire fold AHCA registered and the lineage traceable.
The American Highland Cattle Association has been the most valuable resource we have for learning about the needs and advantages of the breed. In addition to a wealth of research available on the site, there is a breeder directory, and of course the herd book. In the herd book, you can search any registered animal and trace its lineage to determine if it is related to your stock or what colors have appeared in its ancestry.
There are programs for data collection that will pick out the outstanding dams and bulls according to program guidelines. If you are interested in developing a line of cows that routinely produce outstanding calves, other members can see these outstanding characteristics with a quick search of any stock you might have available for sale.
We encourage you to visit the AHCA association website.
Highland Cattle Information
Daily changes take place on the farm. It is fun to watch the interactions in the fold. Some days find the coos frolicking in the snow, others find them cooling off in the pond. One of their favorite activities in the late spring is hiking in the woods eating all the underbrush. These hardy cows love to browse and will clear your woods, making it available for shaded pasture. We are working on about 30 acres right on the side of the mountain. They are up to the challenge!
Highland calf colors are exciting to watch. It is fun to try to predict a newborn’s color, but just when you think you have red bull, the color begins to change . . . will the adult be Brindle? Yellow? Black? or maybe, it will actually remain red?
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