Highland cattle in Drenthe province in the Netherlands
Staring down winter
Feel a chill in the air? Not these two. The first frosty blasts of winter have little effect on Highland cattle thanks to their unusual coats. The long-haired outer layer is oily and slicks off rain and snow, keeping the fluffier undercoat dry and toasty against their skin. These two Highlanders are in a national park in Drenthe province of the Netherlands, but the breed developed by natural selection—only the fittest survived—in the wet and windy Scottish Highlands. The original Highland Cattle Herd Book, which recorded Highland cattle pedigrees, dates to 1885, making Highlanders the oldest registered cattle breed in the world.
Farmers used to keep their Highland cattle in open-air stone shelters called folds, and that name stuck to these hairy bovines—a group of Highlanders is called a fold, not a herd. Today, you can find Highland folds all over the world, as far north as Alaska and Scandinavia, and down south to Australia. Queen Elizabeth is a fan. She's had a fold on her Balmoral estate since 1953.