Despite their intimidating horns, Scottish highland cattle actually make for pretty good pets, says 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.

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"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.

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

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 halter-trained 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-year-old 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".