The native Highland cow is known for her easy care attributes, fantastic temperament and ability to thrive on the poorest of land.

But whilst many consider Highland cattle as a ‘hobby’ breed, Ewen MacMillan, Lurg, in Fintry, hopes to prove that they are worth their weight in commercial value too.

Having already made a name for himself in the world of pedigree Blackface sheep with his renowned Lurg flock, Ewen is hoping he can also make a success story of his newly established pedigree fold of Luruha Highland cattle.

“The Highland cattle are a fantastic breed to work with. They have a great temperament, easy managed and an easy care breed all round,” Ewen commented.

“People were surprised to hear that the fold doesn’t run under the ‘Lurg’ prefix, like the sheep, but I chose to go with Luruha as it represents the first two initials of each of my children – Lucy, Ruaridh and Hannah.”

In years gone bye, Ewen welcomed native cattle from other neighbouring farms to graze the hill during the summer months, but after noticing how well his ground benefitted with cattle, he decided to invest in his own herd.

“Having cattle on the hill ground improved the land drastically as the cattle did away with the poor grass, leaving it in better condition for the sheep to thrive on,” he said.

“Typically, the cattle that came to graze comprised of Highland cross Shorthorns and I admired how well they thrived under the conditions and the little attention they demanded.

“As a result, I decided to buy some cattle of own but was torn between the Highlander, or the Galloway. I wanted a traditional breed that could be outwintered and required as little work as possible, and after speaking to other breeders, decided that the Highlander was the best option for me as I’ve always had a liking for the breed,” he added.

“I was confident that I could manage a fold without having to making hay, or silage as a supplement, which would’ve been more work than it was worth for my venture.”

With the Highlanders retaining their easy-care attributes, all Luruha cattle are supplemented only with cattle rolls, receiving between four and five pounds of rolls per head per day and increased to six pounds only in heavy snow conditions when hill grazing is greatly reduced.

“The rolls are only given to help maintain the cattle’s condition, rather than to push them or help them thrive as they already achieve that on the hill themselves,” stated Ewen.

With quality being at the forefront of Ewen’s mind, the Luruha fold is now comprised of 14 breeding females and five heifers, all sourced from top pedigree folds.

“I bought three in-calf cows and three two-year-old heifers from Dexter Logan’s dispersal sale of his Blairlogan fold, based in Stirlingshire, as I knew this would be an opportunity to buy quality,” explained Ewen. “If I was spending money, I wanted to buy the best foundation stock that would lead to quality offspring.”

Ewen also invested in females at the dispersal sale of the Mottistone fold, from the Isle of Wight, when it was held at UA Stirling, as well as females from the Glengorm fold, on the Isle of Mull, in the form of three in-calf heifers.

“I shall have a total of 19 females, including heifers, going to bull in the summer this year and I plan to increase fold number to around 30 head in the coming years,” he said.

With the purchase of in-calf cows from five different folds, calving this year is spanned over a longer duration, however Ewen hopes to tighten this gap over the next few years.

“Going forward, my intention is to be calving in February and early March before lambing kicks off in April. It’s a one man unit here so I need to have cattle calved and sorted before I’m consumed by lambing,” Ewen commented.

In terms of replacements, Ewen plans on retaining as many of his best females to build up fold number over the next two years, with the hope that he can then begin selling females to other folds up and down the country.

As well as an aim to produce quality breeding cattle, Ewen also wants to promote the supreme beef that can be produced from Highlanders.

“As much as I want to get the fold’s name on the map for breeding quality, the main driving force behind this venture is promoting how excellent Highland cattle beef is,” he said.

“I love eating good meat and I find it’s an increased struggle to get it nowadays, so I want to be able to produce my own.”

Ewen has already set these ideas in motion and with the help of a local butcher, he is planning to process Highland beef to sell on doorsteps locally and to local farm shops and restaurants, some of whom have also shown an interest.

“I’ve already been approached by a head chef in Glasgow for the use of Highland beef in his restaurant, which is really exciting,” he commented.

“I just want to highlight that finding quality, locally sourced produce is not hard. The only downside to Highland beef is the length of time it takes to get cattle heavy enough, but the quality of beef is worth the wait.

“I have bought my way ahead and purchased some young bullocks last year and they shall be finished this summer,” Ewen added.

“I’m still finding my feet, but so far the breed has impressed me.

“It’s certainly a new found love and I’m enjoying every second working with the Highlanders,” Ewen concluded.


  • Home to Ewen MacMillan, his wife Louise and three children, Hannah, Ruaridh and Lucy.
  • Lurg Farm is comprised of 1600 acres, 100 of this is planted with hardwood trees.
  • It is also home to 700 Blackface sheep, 20 pedigree four-horned Jacobs, 20 commercial two-horned Jacobs and the Luruha fold of Highland cattle.
  • Ewen does all the farm work with any tractor work carried out by part time worker, Andrew Steedman.


  • Best purchase?: Would have to be Louise's wedding ring. It was a small fortune, but I'm reaping the benefits now!
  • Favourite holiday?: I don't do holidays but our honeymoon in Banff National Park, in Canada, was well worth the effort of leaving the farm.
  • Favourite restaurant?: Anywhere with good food but most memorable would be the Champany Inn, in Linlithgow. I might enquire if they wish to add Highland beef to their menu!
  • Best animal ever bred?: I'm still waiting on that one to be born yet but it was great to see Midlock winning the Highland with a £22,000 two-shear Lurg tup – he was a stand out animal that day. The icing on the cake was having my good friend, Andrew Kay, from Gass, judging him. We had a celebratory dram afterwards!