1. Highland cattle are first and foremost cattle, and only cattle. While there are breed differences that make Highlands unique, they are still just cattle. There is nothing magical about them except perhaps the hold they have on their owners.
2. You will get out of your cattle what you put into them. If you expect your Highlands to forage in the woods and plains for feed, you will have animals whose health and disposition will be determined by their environment not their owner. If you want cattle that can be easily handled, spend some time handling them.
3. Save your best feed for your growing young stock, particularly your weanling calves and your first calf heifers. There are feeds available that are fine in moderation for your adult brood cows, that are absolutely inadequate for growing animals. (Cornstalks are an example.)
4. Observe, Observe, Observe!!! If you cannot recognize normal, you will never notice abnormal. If you don’t know what healthy cattle look and act like, you will not know when your cattle are sick. Listen to your gut instincts, intuition or whatever you wish to call it. Sometimes your subconscious is far more observant than your conscious mind. If you have a feeling that something is not right, investigate.
5. Seek knowledge in all corners. Valuable sources of information include:
Your neighbor down the road that owns cattle of any breed. Pick the brains of anyone who knows anything about cattle in general. You can adapt information from an Angus breeder just as readily as advice from a fellow Highland breeder.
Your county extension service has multiple publications to help you with any aspect of farming and ranching that are up to date and give sound, detailed advice on virtually any subject from putting up hay to building a headgate.A local veterinarian. Do not be afraid to call a veterinarian, even if you think it might be a stupid call. Stupid beats dead anytime. Guidelines for when to call:
when you don’t know what’s wrong
when you know what’s wrong, but you don’t have the means to correct the problem
when you know what’s wrong, you have the means, but you haven’t made any progress in correcting the problem within 30 minutes
(these guidelines were suggested by a colleague concerning calving problems, but I think they are appropriate anytime.)