Are miniature highlands REAL highland cattle?

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This topic creates all sorts of hype and emotion on social media. Let us have a look at what other associations are doing with regard to cattle breeding and height.

In Australia, miniature highland cattle are not recognised by the Australian Highland cattle Association. However it is interesting to see what other breed associations have allowed in the past.

Lowline cattle come from Angus cattle, and were selected for small size over many generations. They eventually formed their own association and have filled a particular niche in the Australian cattle market. The height for a lowline bull is 110cm, and cows 100cm (significantly smaller than their big Angus cousins). One thing I like about the Lowline breed is they are polled and do very well on pasture in our area (Canberra- which is often dry). They also have a very active and welcoming breed association, with a good supply of semen if you don’t want to keep bulls.

The Australian Galloway association recognises miniature galloways in their association. Their standard size for a miniature galloway cow is 120cm and the bulls are 125cm. They are able to be registered and shown, and also have the advantage of being polled and have available semen sales through their association. Our galloways are the best doers on our property – our major problem is not letting them get too fat before they calve!!

The Dexter breed is also one of my favourite. They are very friendly cattle, come in polled or horned, and can carry the gene for chondroplasia (dwarf or short legged). Breeders carefully select matings of long legged with short legged cattle, and have done so very successfully for many generations. Cows can be 96-11cm, bulls 106-121 cm according to Dexters Australia.

I can understand the Australian Highland Cattle Association not wanting to follow the Galloway or Dexter Associations move to include miniatures. Many people have tried to keep a pure and high standards of standard highland cattle, and there is no doubt they are a magnificent beast. However, there will always be farmers who want something small, manageable, maybe even polled. As such, there is a need to regulate good breeding standards for this class of cattle.Hence, there is the Polled Highland Society of Australia – which has developed a breed standard and registration for miniature and polled highlands. Just like we might not all want big dogs, there should be allowance for a “different” breed – think miniature vs standard poodles, or schnauzers for example. Breeders in this association are doing what the early Lowline breeders did – recognised their cattle were different to the original, but no less valuable

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