Records of Scottish Highland cattle go back as far as the 12th century. There's even archaeological evidence of them from the sixth century, making them one of the oldest known breeds of cattle. These cattle ranged the rock-rimmed, bleak Highlands of Scotland. Only the most efficient could subsist on the course and often sparse forage. Only the most vigorous could resist disease, breed and raise calves. With centuries of relentless environmental pressure, they are noted for their ability to thrive where other cattle perish. Around 1884, American cattlemen began importing them to improve their herds. In 1948 a group of ranchers recognized the strength and stamina of Highland cattle and formed the American Highland Cattle Association.
Highland cattle are coming to the attention of other breeders due to their unique gene pool of natural attributes. Nothing in their genetics needs to be changed to meet the demands of today's cattlemen.