JUST about everything you would ever want to know about Highland cattle is contained within German breeder, Stephan Janz's book 'Highland Cattle - Icon of the Scottish Highlands'.

Whether you are a breeder or not, the near 450-page book is packed with information about the history, management, and stories behind some of the famous herds of Scotland's pin-up breed - which also includes many photographs and illustrations. As he writes himself: 'This is the book I would have liked to have had when I first started to think about breeding Highland cattle', which just about sums its appeal up to breeders.

But there's plenty of interesting reading in there, too, for those interested in how geography and political change helped shape not just this breed, but also farming in the Highlands of Scotland. Stephan's hard work over many years charts the story of the breed's influence in the clan network of Scotland, through its considerable value to the economy of Scotland, particularly to the west Highlands and the Islands where the topography shaped a breed that pretty much thrived on the harshest of terrain and grazing lands.

The book includes an interesting 'drive-through' of some of the best known and historic folds in the herd book written by 'Mr Highland' himself, Angus Mackay, who records the origins of some of the cow families and influential sires which remain very much part of the modern Highlander. Stephan has also included an 'idiot's guide' to Gaelic names used in pedigrees, which even the most seasoned expert will glean something new from.

For those thinking of starting a new Highland fold, the book also contains some valuable insight and information on how best to manage them across a wide range of habitats and climates. For 'newbies' there's a great chapter about how to manage calves from birth to weaning. Also included is information on how the breed has spread across the world, making a name for itself because of its hardiness, longevity, and mothering ability.

All-in-all this is an encyclopaedic tome that will stay on your shelves and be taken down and dusted off at regular intervals. Some of the reading can be hard going at times, but there's a lot to digest ... and why not? This is, after all, a breed synonymous with Scotland's agriculture and it is a story that's worth celebrating in what is a comprehensive and passionate reference book, with the added bonus of Stephan's insight.

Stephan Janz has been breeding Highland Cattle for more than 30 years in his Jiggel fold, which has gained a solid and renowned reputation in his native Germany. Scotland has ever since become a place of longing and frequent visits for him and he has been on the panel of judges for the Highland Cattle Society for many years he has judged shows in Germany, Scotland, and other European countries.

• You can order the book here: Highland Cattle, englisch - ERLING VERLAG (erling-verlag.com)