Miniature Highland Cattle

The Mini Myth


Highlands are not truly minis. The breed is known for small calves that are slow growing, and in it’s true Scottish standard, smaller in stature than standard beef breeds. Highlands are not mature until 3-4 years of age. Therefore, at age two when other breeds are mature, Highlands are still growing and often shorter than the magic measurement that defines “mini” in cattle.

Give them another year or two and they will probably be full size. Full size for most Highlands is a bit smaller than Angus, Hereford, etc. Unethical breeders charge top dollar for a “mini” and the buyer is surprised when their tiny calf grows into a 1000-1500+ pound adult at about age 3 or 4.

You occasionally run across very small Highlands, but that is often an indication of a nutrition problem early on that stunted growth, or early breeding that can also stunt growth. These stunted Highlands usually produce more normal size offspring. And that can cause calving problems in very small cows – so be careful.

Beef producers in the US have selectively bred highlands to increase the size of the breed and make it more competitive in the beef market since Highland beef is so much healthier than the beef from other US beef breeds. Here, at Elm Hollow Farm, we have both the larger beefier stock for those interested in improving their beef production and the more traditional Scottish versions that tend to be smaller – usually under 1000#.

Both versions are docile and can make wonderful pets for those who know that cattle are livestock. Highlands have become very popular as hobby farm cattle as well as strong breeding stock.

Pictures by permission from Happy Hens and Highlands.

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