CyrusRidgeFarmLogo.png

Where good things come in small packages.

What You Want To Know

About Scottish Highlands

What breed of cattle do you raise?


We are raising miniature highland-dexter hybrid cattle. We started our breeding program by selecting cattle with thick long hair, good conformation, udder quality, and a docile temperament. This would allow us to handle them easily, and they would pass that good temperament on to their calves. Our goal is a high percentage of highland that are micro size, (34-36" high height full grown), docile, with lots of beautiful shaggy hair.




Why do I want Mini and Micro-Mini Highlands?


Both Highland and Dexter cattle are known for thier docility, hardiness, thriftiness, and calving ease. A hybrid breed of the two create a smaller, extemely docile cow that is very easily handled. These cows resemable the grazing of a goat, in that they will eat brush and weeds. They require 1/3 of the feed of standard size animals. They do not require special fencing or equipment. They make wonderful pets and compainion animals. Needing only aprrox. a half acre per mini highland, they are perfect for small homesteads. They are also great for children involved, or wanting to become involved, in the 4H/FFA program.




Their horns look scary, are they hamrful?


All cattle, even polled (ones without horns) can be dangerous. Their horns are a wonderful, visual, reminder that we need to be respectful and careful around these animals. They don't use their horns to hurt you. They use them to help regulate their temperature, aid in digestion, predator control, knocking down brush to graze on, and scratching their back. Horns on females are generally finer texture than males.




What is the differnce in standard, mini, and micro sizes?


Most Highlands would be considered a "Mid-Miniature" size, over 43" at 3 years of age. Miniature Highland cattle, under 42" at 3 years of age, are one of the most popular of the miniature breeds of cattle. Our goal is healthy Micro Miniature cattle, under 36" at 3 years of age, that are extremely docile with lots of beautiful hair.




What is the Chondrodysplasia (chondro) gene?


Although rare now some dexter cattle carry the dominant chondro gene, which is a dwarf gene. We love the chondro gene and feel they are by far our most docile cattle. This gene was introduced into the purebred Highlands and then breed throughout the years to increase the percentage of Highland traits while retaining the dwarf gene. Our goal is to have micro miniature cattle virtually identical to a purebred Highland, with the exception of the dwarf gene. It is important to note that you do not breed carriers together. Rather you breed a carrier to a non carrier. Breeding cows that are both chondro postitive needs to be avoided to prevent lethal bulldog calf defects. All of our hybrid cows are tested for the gene.




Do Chondro carriers have health problems?


Chondro carriers live as long as their non-carrier family with no side effects. Joint issues, poor hoof conformation, and other skeletal problems are not a result of the chondro gene, but a result of poor genes. A good breeding program will cull (get rid of) any cows with these characteristics so these genes are not transferred to the next generation. The chondro gene may amplify poor genes but it will not create poor genes. In this regard, the chondro gene is desirable in identifying poor genetics and removing them from a reputable breeding program.




Will Chondro cows will have BD (bulldog) calves?


Let’s dive into some more complicated genetic facts. A BD calf is a term used to identify a stillborn or aborted calf. The term BD is used because the stillborn calves have a face structure similar to a bulldog. A BD calf is the result of a tragically uneducated or ill-prepared breeding program. Here is what happens. The chondro (dwarf) gene is almost always dominate in a carrier, therefore 2 copies of the gene will result in severely damaged development. A BD calf has received 2 copies of the chondro gene. This is called homozygotes and is almost always fatal to the calf. A single copy of the gene, called heterozygotes, will result in an incomplete dominant (semi-dominate) inheritance. The result of heterozygotes (1 copy of the dwarf gene) can create disproportionate (poor conformation) cattle in poorly selected breeding, but it can also produce great conformation and disposition in carefully selected breeding. Bottom line, you cannot breed 2 chondro carriers together. This will result in homozygotes. Either the male or female must be chondro free. This may or may not result in a chondro positive (heterozygous) calf, but will certainly not have any potential of homozygous.




What we think of the Chondro gene.


The successful introduction of the chondro gene to a breeding program takes lots of time, money, and very careful planning. The advantage of introducing the chondro gene is that, when done correctly, an educated breeding program can produce much smaller, more docile, and well conformed cattle. It is truly unfortunate that there are many cattle traders and producers that have not taken the time to introduce the gene correctly to their herd. These uninformed farmers have given a bad name to the breeders who have taken the right steps to bring the beauty of the chondro positive micro-miniature Highlands to the rest of the world. At Cyrus Ridge Farm, we adore our chondro carriers and know that there is no love like a chondro love.




Can you keep cows and horses together?


Equine (horse family) and Bovine (cow family) both live in a hierarchy system. Essentially a ranking of top “dog” to the last or weakest member of the family. The status on this hierarchy system shifts as the animals get older and more dominant. Equine bite and kick to establish dominance while bovine head butt and spear. These different methods don’t mingle very well, so it can create a dangerous atmosphere for both families. The two species compete for the same hierarchy system when housed together. Other species (goats, pigs, sheep, etc) will do just fine with both horses and cows.




What is the pricing for quality Micro & Miniature Highlands?


We often get asked the prices for our Miniature Scottish Highland cattle, and honestly price is a large range. It can be extremely difficult to acquire miniature highland cattle from reputable breeders, with small genetics, good confirmation, and excellent temperaments. We have purchased cattle from all over the country, and spent a significant amount of money to ensure that our breeding stock meets these standards. We base our prices on quality, genetic makeup, color, conformation, sex etc. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay between $3,000-9,000 for a quality miniature Highland. The price may be higher for rare color, above average hair length, or below average size.




Rotational grazing and why it's good.


The science behind rotational grazing is deep and fascinating. A general overview is that the cattle tend to first eat the growth that best fits their needs. The grazing of these grasses and growth releases a chemical signal to the root system of that plant to release stored sugar and nutrients to the surrounding soil. If the cattle are moved from the area it allows the grass or growth to recover and once again be grazed. Each soil type, time of year, and environment will determine the times needed for recovery and regrowth. The cow’s hooves slightly penetrate the topsoil allowing the manure (3-2-1 NPK fertilizer) and urine (high nitrogen fertilizer) to be absorbed by the root system of a pasture. The cows at Cyrus Ridge Farm are rotated through a series of 6 pastures, each ranging in size from 5-10 acres. The occupied pasture is closely monitored to optimize the rotation to the next pasture. In the fast-growing season of spring and early summer, the cattle will not be able to eat all of the grass growth. The excess grass is cut, dried, and baled for use during the winter months. Check out the video below to see how quick and easy rotational grazing is.




Flies, let's chat about how to combat them.


Flies...let's talk about them, and the steps we've taken to lower their presence around here.

Having too many flies can be annoying and harmful to the cows because it spreads disease such as pink eye and more. By the fall of our first year in farming, we decided to make a change. We purchased a drag to spread the manure after every rotation, and started adding garlic to their free choice mineral.

We mix 1lb of garlic per 50lbs of trace mineral. Studies have shown that adding garlic to mineral can significantly decrease fly counts, by 50% or more. The same studies also show an increase of mineral consumption.

Flies lay their eggs in fresh manure. When you spread the manure it cools it down and dries it out quicker, which gives a much shorter window for them to lay their eggs and killing the process. Spreading the manure also helps us to fertilize the pastures. Watch the video to see how Ben mixes it all together.