We have a small fold of Highland Cattle free to forage on the herb rich pasture which grows naturally here at Achinreir Farm. We choose cows with a kind gentle nature and we enjoy accommodating their individual quirks and needs.
Highland Cattle are an ancient breed known to have survived the poor land and harsh conditions presented by the hills, glens and islands of the Scottish Highlands since the sixth century. Celebrated for their dazzling looks and hardy characteristics, they are also generally amiable and easy to work with.
For many generations these unique cattle made a significant contribution to the lives of the Highland subsistence crofters; they were a source of meat and milk and their hair was used to spin yarn. The cattle were herded the length and breadth of the country to sell calves at the annual trysts.
In 1884, the Scottish Highland Cattle Society was formed, the oldest recorded breed society and is still strongly represented. Over the years this unique breed has become increasingly popular overseas with cattle breeders in at least 18 countries around the world.
The breed is particularly hardy and has a fantastic ability to naturally convert poor grazing for the production of strong well grown calves. Their rich milk, their strong maternal instinct and ease of calving makes them outstanding mothers.
Although these days milking Highland cattle is not customary, traditionally they were used as house cows, providing milk, butter and cheese for families across the Highlands and Islands.
There is much folklore surrounding milking of Highlanders in the ‘old days’ and it is said that great virtue belonged to cheese made by women at the summer shielings. They infused the cheese with herbs and gathered Pearlwort (or Mothan in Gaelic) from the high peaks to add to the milk to keep it safe from fairies; those who ate this cheese were said to be protected.
The butterfat in the milk of the Highlander can be as high as 9 to 10%, much higher than that of conventional milking breeds which tends to be between 3 and 5%. The Highlanders milk is rich and sweet and we have found it to be ideal for producing a perfect gelato style ice cream.