Naming Your Cattle
The Highland breed is primarily a female breed for it is the unique qualities of the female that are passed on to her progeny especially when crossing with another breed of bull - the much desired 'Hybrid Vigour', so being able to follow the female line is important.
Many breeders, when they start up a fold, have a number of females that may not be related closely and may, in all likelihood, have been acquired from different breeders. The new breeder starts to breed with these females and, in due time, heifer calves out of the foundation females are born and need to be named. A common and sensible way to name these heifers is to use the name of the dam thus preserving the identity of that female line.
For example, a new breeder has three foundation cows from different breeders in his Delta fold: Anabladh of Alpha, Proiseag of Beta, and Siusan of Gamma. They all have heifer calves bred by him and he names them Anabladh of Delta, Proiseag of Delta and Siusan of Delta. Let us say the next year the foundation cows again have heifer calves. They in turn might be called Anabladh 2nd of Delta, Proiseag 2nd of Delta, and Siusan 2nd of Delta.
On paper and in the field it will always be quite easy to track the descendants of the three original cows by their name. So long as you know your animals you will be able to compare the difference between families, especially when using the same bull.
What happens when the daughter of Anabladh of Alpha; Anabladh of Delta has her first heifer calf? Some distinction must be made to avoid confusion. Giving her another number does not necessarily help. We already have an Anabladh 2nd of Delta; she was the second heifer calf born to the original cow Anabladh of Alpha and her third heifer calf would be named Anabladh 3rd of Delta and so on indicating daughters of the original Anabladh of Alpha. It is quite common to alter the name in some way without losing sight of the original foundation dam. If Anabladh of Delta's first heifer calf is red in colour she could be named Anabladh Ruadh of Delta and her second heifer calf would be Anabladh Ruadh 2nd of Delta (even although she may not be red!). The line back to the first Anabladh of Alpha will still be there.
Consider now a new breeder with his three foundation cows: Anabladh of Alpha, Proiseag of Beta, and Siusan of Gamma. They all have their heifer calves and he names them Seonaid 1st of Delta, Seonaid 2nd of Delta and Seonaid 3rd of Delta. Immediately the obvious connection by name with the original dams is lost. Thereafter he is only able to compare cow with cow unless he has a phenomenal memory for pedigrees for who is the dam of Seonaid 2nd of Delta? There is nothing obvious to tell you that it is Proiseag of Beta, only memory must serve.
Now what are the siblings of Seonaid 1st, 2nd and 3rd to be called? Logically with this system - Seonaid 4th, 5th and 6th so eventually, after the death or disposal of the three foundation cows and if he keeps a closed herd, the breeder will end up with his complete fold all called Seonaid! And how about the grand-daughters of Seonaid 1st, 2nd and 3rd?
We saw with the first breeder's system they might be called Anabladh Ruadh of Delta, Proiseag Dhubh of Delta or Siusan Bhuidhe of Delta so the names still link with the foundation cows, but our second breeder even if he makes a similar differentiation by adding a description to his second generation Seonaids will still have lost an easy link with his original cows.
Whilst on the subject of names; of course, every breeder is entitled to name his cattle in any way he pleases, however, the Society has always been keen to encourage the continuing use of Gaelic names for Highland cattle. A list of names is given below with translations (forget the pronunciation!) and it is hoped that when registering cattle, members will make use of this list particularly with regard to the spelling.
|Brogach||Sturdy boy||Gille nan Gleann||Boy of the glen|
|Ceannard||Chief||Gruagach||Long haired one|
|Ceann-taighe||Head of house||Guaillean||Shoulder|
|Fear a’ Ghlinne||Man of the glen||Seumas||James/Hamish|
|Fearghas||Fergus||Uibhisteach||Native of Uist|
|Dosan||Hair on forehead||Seonag||Joan|
|Fiochag||Little angry one||Sòbhrach||Primrose|
|Flòraidh||Flora||Speachag||Venomous little creature|
|Gealbhan||White one||Suairceag||Gentle one|
|Colours - (Colours follow name ie: Calum Buidhe, Anna Bhuidhe)|
|Buidhe||Yellow male (eg Calum Buidhe)|
|Bhuidhe||Yellow female (eg Anna Bhuidhe)|
|Donn||Brown/dun male (eg Calum Donn)|
|Dhonn||Brown/dun female (eg Anna Dhonn)|
|Dubh||Black male (eg Calum Dubh)|
|Dhubh||Black female (eg Anna Dhubh)|
|Geal||White male (eg Calum Geal)|
|Gheal||White female (eg Anna Gheal)|
|Riabhach||Brindle (male & female – Calum Riabhach & Anna Riabhach)|
|Ruadh||Red (male & female – Calum Ruadh & Anna Ruadh)|