Shaggy cat­tle ‘fas­ci­nat­ing’ pets ‘Hug­gable’ horned cows like a ‘dog’

CHB Mail - - News - BY CLIN­TON LLEWELLYN

De­spite their in­tim­i­dat­in­glook­ing horns, Scot­tish high­land cat­tle ac­tu­ally make for pretty good pets, ac­cord­ing to Waipuku­rau man Shaun Atkin­son.

In fact, the gen­tle giants with their long shaggy coats are down­right “hug­gable” and also loyal and cu­ri­ous, much like a good guard dog, he says.

“They are noted for be­ing quiet and docile and they come right up to the fence and you can pat them and feed them and they seem to be loyal — they’ve come to know us.

“But if any­one else comes along, they’ll still come up the fence but they won’t let them touch them un­less they know who they are.

“They are bit like a dog re­ally — they don’t miss much, very, very nosy and they let you know if some­thing is hap­pen­ing out­side.

“They are quite a cu­ri­ous cow and en­joy com­pany,” he said.

After de­vel­op­ing a fas­ci­na­tion for the an­i­mals around the age of nine, and after search­ing as far south as Levin to buy some as pets, Shaun was stoked when he re­cently bought Macy and Misty after they were ad­ver­tised for sale on Face­book.

The Twist Truck­ing driver was fi­nally able to buy the pair after he and part­ner Me­gan Thom­son and her two chil­dren, Holly, 10, and Cody, 14, moved to a 0.6ha semi-ru­ral life­style block off Po­ran­ga­hau Rd last July.

Sus­pect­ing they would make good pets, he was thrilled to have been proven right.

“I’ve al­ways wanted some since I was a kid, and be­cause I am away a lot with work, Me­gan and the kids look after them.

“We wanted some­thing hal­ter­trained that was petable and brush­able, and now that we’ve got a life­style block we’ve man­aged to get a cou­ple of them. We are quite proud of them ac­tu­ally. They’re ev­ery­thing we wanted.”

He said neigh­bours had be­come sim­i­larly fas­ci­nated with Macy and Misty since they ar­rived a few months ago, and of­ten brought vis­i­tors through to meet them.

“And quite a few peo­ple have stopped to have pho­tos taken with them. It’s been quite a busy lit­tle street since they ar­rived,” he said.

From what he had read about them, Atkin­son said Scot­tish high­land cat­tle were the old­est reg­is­tered cat­tle breed in the world, and both cows and bulls grew horns.

“It’s just part of the breed.” He said the an­i­mals could live for as long as 20 years and reach up to 500kgs, but only reached ma­tu­rity around the age of eight — which meant that four-yearold Macy, weigh­ing around 350kgs, and 14-month-old Misty, weigh­ing just 180kgs, should have plenty of life ahead of them.

De­spite their meat be­ing re­garded as of the high­est qual­ity, be­cause they were slow to reach breed­ing age they were not pop­u­lar with beef farm­ers — not that Atkin­son had bought the pair for them to end up on a din­ner plate.

“That would never hap­pen. “The lady we bought them from wanted them to stay as pets. [Macy and Misty] aren’t re­lated but they’ve been brought up to­gether, so we couldn’t re­ally sep­a­rate them.”

Holly said she and her brother had jobs to feed and brush them.

Her favourite was Misty while Cody said what he liked most about the cat­tle was they were “re­ally hug­gable”.

PHOTO: CLIN­TON LLEWELLYN.

‘Re­ally hug­gable”: Holly Thom­son, 10, and brother Cody, 14, with Macy.

PHOTO: PAUL TAY­LOR

Neigh­bours have be­come fas­ci­nated with Macy and Misty since they ar­rived to live with pets on their semi-ru­ral life­style block off Po­ran­ga­hau Rd.

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