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The Ultimate Guide to Mini Highland Cows! [Size, Feed, and Cost!]

Mini Highland cows are some of our favorite homestead companions! When most people think of Highland cows, they think of the unkempt (and massive) creatures often used as tourist attractions or featured in commercials. However, we know about a smaller version of this Scottish cow gaining popularity – miniature Highland cattle!

As their name suggests, these cows are much smaller than their traditional counterparts. And they make great pets or dairy animals for small-scale farmers. 

We’re about to analyze these magnificently mini cattle creatures in detail!

Sound good?

Let’s continue!

The Ultimate Guide to the Mini Highland Cow

If you’re considering adding a mini Highland cow to your farm or homestead, read on for everything you need to know about this exquisite breed of cattle.

adorable mini highland cows foraging on california farm
Mini Highland cows come from the hardy Scottish Highland cattle breed. Highland cattle is one of the oldest – if not the oldest cattle breed around. The first Highland cattle herd dates way back to 1884! Highland cattle get favored among rural ranchers due to their reputations for being adaptable, rugged, and easy to raise.

Are Mini Highland Cows Good for Anything? 

Yes. Absolutely! The mini Highland cow is a friendly and docile cattle breed from the Scottish Highlands. These cows are smaller than their full-grown counterparts, making them easier to care for and handle.

Mini Highland cows are also known for their thick fur coats, which protect them from the cold weather in their native homeland. In recent years, mini Highland cows have become increasingly popular as pets and working animals due to their easygoing nature and gentle dispositions. 

Storey's Guide to Raising Miniature Livestock | Sue Weaver
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If you're new to mini Highland cows and other mini farm animals - here's one of our favorite resources from Storey and Sue Weaver. It's Storey's Guide to Raising Mini Livestock! The book covers more than just tiny cows. It also talks about miniature goats, donkeys, pigs, sheep, llamas, and horses.

If you have a small homestead and want the advantages of miniature cattle without having dozens of acres, then it's an excellent resource. The book contains 465 pages! Some reviewers cite how the book isn't advanced enough for their taste. So - the book is best if you're new to miniature farm animals.

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01/30/2023 07:20 pm GMT

How Big Do Mini Highland Cows Get?

Miniature Highland cattle typically weigh between 500 and 600 pounds – or 227 to 272 kg. They are also relatively short, with a typical adult height of 36 to 42 inches (91 to 107 cm). The bulls are generally slightly larger than the cows.

Although they are much smaller than their full-size cousins, miniature Highland cattle still possess many similarly distinctive features, including long curved horns, shaggy coats, and wavy eyelashes. Miniature Highland cows make excellent pets – due partly to their docile nature and compact size.

miniature highland cow foraging in carmel california
Here’s a beautiful mini Highland cow specimen! Here you see the mini cow browsing in a field. Highland cows come from the rugged Scottish Highlands. They’re famous for getting by without the best grazing conditions. As a result – they’re excellent foragers! They have reputations for eating other forage crops that most other cows overlook. And we love their woolly coats!

Are Miniature Highland Cows Friendly?

Yes. Absolutely! If you’re looking for a friendly pet, you might want to consider a miniature Highland cow. These cows are known for their sweet dispositions and love of being around people. And they look like giant teddy bears. Ultra fuzzy teddy bears!

They are markedly curious creatures, so they’ll often follow you around and try to investigate anything that catches their eye. Highland cows are also relatively easy to care for and raise. They even make excellent lawnmowers! Many people get mini cows specifically for this purpose.

Read More – Raising Mini LaMancha Goats!

How Much Does a Highland Cow Eat Per Day?

Cows usually eat around 2% of their body weight daily. A full-grown miniature Highland cow weighs approximately 500 pounds. So – expect your mini Highland cow to eat roughly 10 pounds of hay daily. (500 pounds * .02 = 10 pounds.)

This number is just an estimate! Your mini Highland cow could certainly eat more than 10 pounds per day. But, we’d be surprised if the total amount exceeded 20 pounds of hay daily.

This amount may seem like a lot for such a little fellow! But it’s far less than what many other types of cattle consume. For example, Angus cattle can eat up to 35 pounds of hay daily. And we’ve heard of some hungry Holstein cows eating as much as 50 pounds of hay!

Of course, the amount a miniature Highland cow eats will also depend on factors such as age, weight, and activity level. Younger cows tend to eat more than older cows, and cows used for breeding or milking need more food than those kept as pets. 

cute highland cows on farm in anderen netherlands
Highland cattle originate from Scotland. But – they’re popular in different parts of the world, including Australia, Europe, the USA, and beyond. See this adorable Mini Highland cow from Anderen, Netherlands, as an example. It looks like the tiny pack was grazing on farmland. But – the photographer caught their attention. For a few moments, at least! (You can’t keep a mini Highland cow from their lunch for long.)

How Much Land Does a Mini Highland Cow Need?

A mini Highland cow can live comfortably on as little as one acre of pasture. Most reliable cattle-raising sources agree that you require two acres of forage space per cow. But, mini Highland cows are half the size of regular cattle. Sometimes, even smaller! 

So – one acre per mini Highland cow should be sufficient – as long as you have decent forage crops. (We also advise supplementing your mini Highland cattle’s diet during the winter!)

Highlands are known for their hardiness and ability to thrive in challenging conditions. They’re also relatively low-maintenance, which makes them a good choice for those who want to raise livestock without taking on too much work. 

mini scottish highland cows wrestling with horns
These two Highland cattle from Carmel-by-the-Sea are temporarily locking horns! But not to worry. The mini Highland cows aren’t fighting – but merely roughhousing. They have reputations as docile and friendly creatures. You’re more likely to see a mini Highland using its horns to clear forage than brawl with its herd mates. You’ll probably find that mini Highland cows get along without fuss.

Can Mini Highland Cows Live Alone? 

Mini highland cows are social creatures that enjoy the company of other miniature bovines! When they get kept alone, they can become stressed and even depressed. Isolating mini Highland cows can also lead to health problems such as poor appetite and weight loss. 

Therefore, mini highland cows should always have at least one other mini highland cow for companionship. While they can get along with other animals, such as sheep or goats, mini highland cows do best when they are with a herd.

Read More – How Long Do Cows Live? Beef and Dairy 101!

How Fast Do Highland Cows Grow? 

We’ve noticed that Highland cows are slow-growing. Their slow growth means they take longer to reach full size than other breeds. However, once reaching adulthood, they are larger than most other cattle breeds. 

Adult Highland cows (not the miniature versions) typically weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds. The average bull can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. While the exact growth rate varies depending on the individual cow, most Highland cows will reach full size by four or five years old.

After that point, they will continue to put on weight until they reach their peak at around seven or eight years old. Thanks to their slow growth rate and hearty appetites, Highland cows have a reputation for being very efficient grazers. 

adorable miniature highland calf resting on straw
Here’s another reason we love mini Highland cattle. They’re so cute! Look at this adorable mini Highland calf! It’s resting atop a thick layer of straw in a cozy rural barn. I think it’s hungry! Or maybe, it’s waiting to join the herd and browse for some yummy forage crops! (We haven’t seen a farm animal this cute since we wrote about the best sheep with black faces.)

What Age Do Highland Cows Grow Horns?

While male and female Highland cows have horns, they don’t start growing them until they reach adulthood. Most Highland cows don’t start growing their horns until they’re between one and two years old. 

Once their horns start to grow, they’ll continue to grow throughout the cow’s life – typically reaching full size after about five years. Highland cows can live to be 15 or even 20 years old! That means their horns can keep growing for a significant portion of their lives.

shaggy and cute miniature highland calves on straw
Here’s another adorable miniature Highland calf! We think it just woke up for a nap. Now it wants breakfast! Luckily – Highland cattle aren’t fussy eaters. But – what do cows eat? Well – Highland minis aren’t like other cows. They love munching on a wide variety of forage crops other than grass. (We also think this Highland mini calf resembles an Ewok!)

How Long Does a Mini Highland Cow Live?

In general, miniature Highland cattle have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. However, some mini Highland cows purportedly live up to 20 years, while others may only live for ten years or less. Factors that affect a miniature Highland cow’s lifespan include diet, genetics, and environment.

For example, cows that are well-fed and living in a clean and spacious environment are likely to live longer than those that are neglected or living in cramped conditions. 

How Much Does a Highland Cow Cost?

These gentle giant cows fetch a premium cost! Mini Highland cattle prices range from $1,000 to $4,000. The cost depends on factors such as the age and gender of the cow, as well as the breeder. For example, a calf is typically less expensive than an adult cow. Similarly, a female cow will generally be more expensive than a male cow. 

Read More – How Fast Can Cows Run? The Answer Might Surprise You!

ultimate guide to mini highland cows
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Conclusion

Miniature Highland cows are becoming increasingly popular on small farms and homesteads across the country. And worldwide! They’re versatile animals that can provide milk, meat, or fiber. And they’re a great way to teach kids about agriculture and animal husbandry. 

But – if you’re interested in adding miniature Highland cattle to your farm, conduct your research first! Make sure you have enough space for them to roam and consider their needs before making a final decision. 

What about you? Have you ever considered raising miniature Highland cattle?

Or – maybe there’s another miniature cattle breed you love more than Highlands?

Let us know your thoughts!

And – thanks so much for reading.

Have a great day!

Author

  • Rebekah Pierce

    Rebekah Pierce started a small farm with her husband in 2016 in upstate New York, near her native Adirondack Mountains. With a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in special education, she has been writing professionally since 2017, but only recently left the world of teaching to pursue writing and farming full time. She now writes full-time in the education, business, finance, and of course, homesteading and farming niches.

Highland Breeder

Monday 14th of November 2022

As a breeder of Highland cattle, I can say that virtually none of this article is accurate.

For one, there is no such thing as a "miniature" Highland. They are a traditionally short breed. Shorter ones fetch a higher price right now due to them being cuter and more acceptable as homestead pets. As a result, some breeders have begun selectively breeding their shorter cows. This does not create a new breed and there is no difference between a "miniature" Highland and a "Standard" Highland. That's like calling all humans under five foot six "miniature" Humans.

A Highland cow is also at it's most expensive at about six months of age, the opposite of what this article states. As they get older their price goes down, as they are in nearly as high demand. Prices right now (2022) for real purebred Highlands range from $2,000 to $12,000, not $1,000 to $4,000. At the prices stated in this article, you are buying a half-breed at best.

Your weights and heights are way off. An adult cow that weighs only 500lbs is sick.

The only way you could consistently be breeding Highland cows at 36 inches in adult height is if you are cross breeding Dexters into the bloodline in order to specifically breed for the Chondrodysplasia genetic disease (the dwarf/bulldog gene), which is generally considered cruel and unethical by most breeders. It is extremely rare for an adult Highland to be under 40 inches.

Nobody uses Highlands for milk. They are not big milk producers and need all of their milk for their babies. They do not produce any usable excess.

Also, their horns start growing far before 1-2 years. I have a seven month old heifer calf with 6-8in horns in my pasture right now.

Not even all of the pictures in this article are of Highlands... The black&white one is called a High Park and is at most only 1/2 Highland. No Highland is born with more than one color, outside of very rare occasions where they end up with an extra splash of color somewhere.

Articles like this are why breeders have such a hard time dealing with the general public, because their expectations are so completely detached from reality. Every time I have a calf available I get 200 messages from people, 99.9% of which think that they cost $1000-$2000 at most. Ironically, the amount of time I have to spend dealing with the uninformed people is a big part of the price.

Last time I sold a calf I estimated that I spent 100+ hours of work just dealing with people who thought they wanted a Highland but almost everything they thought they knew about the breed was completely false. Much of the information is actually dangerous, such as the bad info around their normal heights. This has created a surge of demand for "miniature" Highlands which has resulted in hundreds of unethical breeders mixing Dexter genes into their herd, giving their babies an incurable genetic disease, then selling the babies as Highlands while they are young and adorable. Those babies will be fine for a year or two then will suffer from a host of health problems for the rest of their life.

Miranda Morrison

Monday 2nd of January 2023

@Highland Breeder, my husband and I are concentrating getting a mini or micro highland. We have kids and I would like all the information you can get me on them if possible. I know some but I would like insider Information please.

Thank you.

Twanna Hamlin

Wednesday 28th of December 2022

@Highland Breeder, Thank you for your info. That being said, what resources do you recommend that will truly be helpful if I'm wanting to raise mini or small cattle, preferably highlands. Thank you, Twanna

Elle

Sunday 27th of November 2022

Hi Highland Breeder! We appreciate you stopping by and providing us (and our readers!) with the additional, very detailed information. Anything that helps people make an informed purchased decision is excellent! We will address some of the issues you raised in the article - stay tuned! Thanks for your comment!

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