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 Seonaidh 1st of Delta, Seonaidh 2nd of Delta and Seonaidh 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 Seonaidh 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 Seonaidh 1st, 2nd and 3rd to be called? Logically with this system - Seonaidh 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 Seonaidh! And how about the grand-daughters of Seonaidh 1st, 2nd and 3rd?

We saw with the first breeder's system they might be called Anabladh Ruadh of Delta, Proiseag Dubh of Delta or Siusan Buidhe 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 Seonaidhs 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.

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 Seonaidh 1st of Delta, Seonaidh 2nd of Delta and Seonaidh 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 Seonaidh 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 Seonaidh 1st, 2nd and 3rd to be called? Logically with this system - Seonaidh 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 Seonaidh! And how about the grand-daughters of Seonaidh 1st, 2nd and 3rd? We saw with the first breeder's system they might be called Anabladh Ruadh of Delta, Proiseag Dubh of Delta or Siusan Buidhe 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 Seonaidhs 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.

Male Names
Adhamh Adam Fial Bounty
Agarach Pretender Fiuran Hunter
Ailean Alan Flath Prince/King/Chief/Hero
Anndra Andrew Fleasgach Youth
Aonghas Angus Friseal Fraser
Armann Warrior Fionnlagh Finlay
Balach Boy Fudaidh Worthless fellow
Bhaltair Walter Gàidheal Gael
Bodach Old man Gaisgeach Hero
Bratach Banner Gealbhan White one
Brogach Sturdy boy Gille nan Gleann Boy of the glen
Cabhlaich Admiral Gille Boy
Cailean Colin Gilleasbaig Archie
Caisean Dewlap Gràidhean Sweetheart
Calum Malcolm Greumach Graham
Cathach Warrior Griogair Grigor
Ceannard Chief Gruagach Long haired one
Ceann-suidhe President Guag Giddy fellow
Ceann-taighe Head of house Guaillean Shoulder
Ceàrd Tinker Gusgarlach Keen one
Ceatharnach Hero Iain John
Cìobair Shepherd Iasgair Fisherman
Cluaran Thistle Laochan Little hero
Coigreach Stranger Lasgaire Champion
Coinneach Kenneth Mìcheal Michael
Coirneal Colonel Mùillear Miller
Companach Companion Murchadh Murdo
Cuairtear Tourist Niall Neil
Cubhaidh Honour Òganach Young one
Cuileadair Flatterer Oighre Heir
Curaidh Hero Oisean Ossian
Daibhidh David Pàdraig Peter/Patrick
Dòmhnall Donald Peadar Peter
Donnchadh Duncan Pìobaire Piper
Dùbhlanaiche Challenger Prìomhaire Prime Minister/President
Dùghall Dugald/Dougal Prionnsa Prince
Eachann Hector Raibeart Robert
Èideard Edward Ruairidh Roderick/Rory
Eilean Island Saighdear Soldier
Eilthireach Stranger Sàirdseant Sergeant
Eòin Ewan/Euan Seòras George
Fear a’ Ghlinne Man of the glen Seumas James/Hamish
Fear Male Stiùbhart Stuart/Stewart
Fear-bratach Bannerman Teàrlach Charles
Fearchar Farquhar Tormod Norman
Fear-cinnidh Kinsman Uachdaran Laird
Fearghas Fergus Uibhisteach Native of Uist
Female Names
Anna Ann Ialainn Honeysuckle
Bana-phrionnsa Princess Iseabail Isobel/Ishbel
Banarach Milkmaid Laochag Little heroine
Banrigh Queen Magaidh Maggie
Barabal Barbara Maighdeann Maiden
Bean Wife Mairead Margaret
Beathag Beth Màiri Mary
Caileag Girl Mùirneag Cheerful girl
Cailin Girl Neòinean Daisy
Cailleach Old lady Nighean Girl
Cairistìona Christina Nìghneag Little girl
Calltainn Hazel Oighrig Effie
Canach Bog cotton Òstag Hostess
Caorann Rowan Peanaidh Penny
Caraid Friend Peigi Peggy
Càraid Twin Phìobaidh Phoebe
Casair Sea drift Pròiseag Prude
Catrìona Catherine Raghnailt Rachel
Ceit Kate Raineach Fern
Ciorstaidh Kirsty Rìbhinn Maiden
Craobhag Small tree Rionnag Star
Crom-lus Poppy Robag Slut
Cruinneag Young woman Ròs Rose
Dìleas Faithful Ròsag Rose tree
Dìlleachdan Orphan Seamrag Shamrock
Dìorbhail Dorothy Seasaidh Jessie
Dosan Hair on forehead Seonag Joan
Ealasaid Elizabeth Seònaid Janet
Eilid Hind (deer) Seud Jewel
Eilidh Helen Seudag Little jewel
Èiteag Fair maid Sìleas Juliet
Eubha Eve Sìne Jean
Faoilte Delight Sìneag Little Jean
Feàrna Alder Siùsaidh Suzy
Feòrag Squirrel Siùsan Susan
Fiochag Little angry one Sòbhrach Primrose
Fionnghal Fiona Sonasag Happy girl
Flòraidh Flora Speachag Venomous little creature
Frangag Francis Spideag Spiteful female
Fraoch Heather Stuamag Modest woman
Gealbhan White one Suairceag Gentle one
Gràidheag Sweetheart Sùbh-làir Strawberry
Grìogag Bead Female
Gruagach Young woman Uiseag Skylark
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)