Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, August 09, 1980, Image 114

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    C26—Lancaster Farming, Saturday, Avgust 9,1980
Scotch Highlanders at home in Northumberland
SUNBURY An ocean
apart from the heathered
hills of their native Scotland,
nine Scotch Highlands graze
contentedly on the dovered
pasture hills of the Hugh
Wilson family farm, R 3
These long-haired, shaggy
cattle have called the 45-acre
Northumberland County
farm home for the past two
years, moving here from
Royalton, Vermont with the
Wilson family in 1978.
According to Wilson, who
has a dental practice in
Hummels Worf, he started
raising the Scottish breed in
1973 primarily because they
require little maintenance.
“Scotch Highlanders could
stand the winters in Vermont
without losing any weight
from cold stress,” said
Wilson. “The winters here
are a piece of cake for
Wilson told how in Ver
mont, the Highlanders were
able to take shelter inside a
three-sided lean-to, but only
did so during severe ice
storms. The rest of the tune,
he said, they preferred to
weather the snow storms to
roam the pasture.
After one winter storm,
Wilson recalled he couldn’t
fmd his cattle
“Everything was covered
with a foot of new snow, and
I couldn’t see any of the
cows. Then I notice some
steam coming off mounds of
snow. When I called the cows
the mounds stood up and
shook off. The cattle weren’t
even phased by the 12-mches
they were wearing.”
The long horns that adorn the Highlanders at
one time served as weapons against predators m
the wilds of Scotland.
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'--nkmg out from under a shaggy foretop, this yearling bull surveys the
conj ioriab vti uon of life on the Hugh Wilson Family Farm near Sunbury
Wilson attributed the
cattle’s seemingly oblvious
attitude to the elements to
their “all-weather coats”
He pointed out the fine, fluffy
fur that underlines their
shaggy, long hair coat. The
color of the hair, ranging
from white to black, seems
to have no bearing on its
effectiveness to cast off ram
and snow.
The Wilsons’ Highlanders
are mostly light red in color
However, one of the bulls is a
brmdie, with red and black
hair. Said Wilson, the lighter
cattle seem to keep cooler
than the darker-colored
Wilson also boasts the
Highlander’s disposition He
craftily slipped a halter
around four-year-old
Frosty’s enormous horns
and took son Sawn and
neighbor Jeff Reitz for a
For all their gentleness,
Wilson said his cows are
excellent mothers and
they’re “fertile as rabbits”
Their horns that served
them in the wilds of Scotland
still aid them in warding off
any unwelcome visitors
And, the cows are back in
heat within 45 days after
calving, he added.
Naturally hardy animals,
Wilson pointed out hoof rot is
virtually unknown to the
breed He explained the
cattle came from an area in
Scotland where 110 inches of
ram falls every year
After getting over the
original expense of pur
chasing the cattle
(American-bred females
start at $lOOO, bulls at $1500),
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they are relatively easy to
Wilson said his cattle are
on a low-gram diet, with
cattle being fed a grass
legume hay from late in
December until the pastures
fomc back in Spring They
are fed a gram i alien jii
weeks before they calf. A
free-choice mineral sup
plement is available for the
cattle, and a gram creep
gives the weaned calves that
little extra they need to
“The Highlanders are
good foragers,” said Wilson
“They finish easier with the
fat distributed throughout
the muscle rather than
around the outside Their
warm hair makes this outer
layer of fat for insulation
Wilson stressed the fact
that he feels Highlanders are
a good source of
crossbreeding bloodlines
Crossing the Scotch cattle
with Angus, Herefords,
Shorthorns or any other
breed gives the cattle
breeder a wealth of hybrid
vigor, he said Proof to his
claim is a tall, well-muscled
heifer whose ancestory
includes a Highland sire and
a dam who is half Charolais
Wilson noted that in the
Scotch Highland breed, the
cattle are beginning to move
away from the short-legged,
boxy animals and through
breeding are beginning to
get the stretch and height
more desirable in the
modern beef animal
In his own small herd,
Wilson too is working for the
improvement of his favorite
breed. “If the cows are not
ideal mothers, they’re not
in my herd. I’m selecting
for height, length, and
mothering ability. ”
Wilson said, he’ll be
travelling to West Virginia to
pick up a new addition to his
nerd next week one that
will add some more leg to his
In a recent study con
ducted in the United States
and Canada, statistics back
up Wilson’s personal ob
servations about the merits
of the Scotch Highland
The study revealed that
94 5 percent of potential cow
conceptions in the surveyed
herds resulted in the birth
of a calf. Of those calved,
97 37 percent were born
alive and 94 37 percent were
successfully weaned The
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Hugh Wilson pats gentle Frosty on the head while they take a break during
neighbor Jeff Reitz’ ride
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;otch Highland cattle are noted for their mothering ability. Wilson claims his
cows have a caifing interval of lOV2 months.
survey aJso showed that only
1.29 percent of the cows
required calving assistance.
With a recorded history
that dates to the Twelfth
Century, the Scotch
Highland were first im
ported to America in the
early 1900’s They have
found favor in both the East
and the West, in both farm
and ranch circumstances
where winters are tough
Their resistance to
weather extremes was
demonstrated in Colorado,
this past Winter, where what
were termed “wild weather
conditions” contributed to
many entries in the Fed Beef
Contest, at the 1980 National
Western Stock Show in
Denver, not attaining a
necessary choice grade. The
Overall Grand Champion
Carcass winners, Highland
crosses exhibited by Don
Stroh and Sons, Elizabeth,
Colorado, never went off
feed due to the cold and
graded choice.
Highland-crosses have
persistently figured in the
winning columns in the
national competition since
Numbers of Scotch
Highland cattle are not
“generously abundant” in
America The American
Scotch Highland Breeders
Association is helpful in
assisting interested parties
get in touch with prospective
suppliers Inquiries should
be directed to Executive
Secietary Gloria Allen,
Route 2, Box 403, Kalkaska,
Michigan 49646
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This crossbred heifer shows the benefits of
hybrid vigor, said Wilson. She was sired by his
Highland bull and is out of a half-Charolais dam.