An American couple are giving their herd of Highland cows a good start in life – by cuddling them.
Adam Hopson, 31, and his wife, Emily, 30, are hopelessly in love with their herd of 22 Highland cows which live on their farm in North Carolina.
The pair have even built up a following of 5,000 on Instagram after posting impossibly cute pictures of them cuddling bemused-looking calves.
Smile: Adam and Emily Hopson, from North Carolina, have built up an impressive online following thanks to the images they post of themselves cuddling their cattle
Say cheese! Many of the animals in the images look somewhat bemused, but both Adam, 31, and Emily, 30, insist that the Highland herd is being brought up in the most loving environment possible
Going for a ride: In this image, Adam can be seen hefting a calf over his shoulders, with the young animal looking more than content to sit aside his neck
The snaps show Adam sat with a Highland calf on his lap and holding one over his shoulders.
In one picture he cradles a newborn which will eventually grow to weigh almost a ton.
Other pictures show a baby cow in the back of their car after the farm truck broke down, and in another Adam perches atop a massive bull.
The pictures are so popular that people from as far away as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Australia have shared them.
And Adam revealed that all the calves they have sold went to people who had contacted them via their Instagram page or Craigslist.
All of the cows raised on their Happy Hens and Highlands farm – 3,600 miles from their ancestral homeland – are sold for breeding, to hobby farms and for pets.
‘Our herd is composed of Scottish Highlands and Scottish Highland crosses,’ they explain on their website.
‘All of our cattle are hormone and antibiotic free. They are primarily grass fed but occasionally receive local beer grains as treats. They live outdoors in harmony with nature. They are interacted with daily, so they are very docile.
Online star: The account also features some of the couple’s adult cattle, including this large bull
Close bond: ‘Most of the cows are really gentle… we name every one of them. All of our customers send us photos and updates of the babies they have bought from us,’ Adam said of the animals
Getting close: Adam believes that the animals are so docile because they interact with people every day
‘We originally planned on raising cattle for beef but recently we shifted our focus to raising cattle for registered breeding stock, pets, and to sell to hobby farms.’
The couple, who live 45 miles north of Asheville – describe the animals as ‘big babies’ and are able to pick them up and cuddle them until they are about a month old.
Adam said: ‘People love the photos, we have people contacting us all the time wanting to see the babies.
‘Most of the cows are really gentle… we name every one of them. All of our customers send us photos and updates of the babies they have bought from us.
‘Our herd is composed of Scottish Highlands and Scottish Highland crosses.
They are primarily grass fed but occasionally receive local beer grains as treats.
‘They are interacted with daily, so are very docile. Currently we don’t do farm tours but hopefully in the near future we will start doing that.’
Favorite breed: The couple’s herd is composed of Scottish Highlands and Scottish Highland crosses
Finding them a good home: The couple made the decision not to sell their cows for meat, but rather to send them to homes where they will be loved as pets, or used for breeding
Have a heart: ‘We love animals and care about their quality of life,’ the couple explained on their website
The farm was set up in 2014 despite the couple having no cattle trailer, no experience and no pasture.
The idea has been years in the making – Emily saw a picture of a Highland cow when she was young and decided that one day she would own one.
‘We love animals and care about their quality of life,’ the couple added on their website. ‘We have been actively involved with dog rescue for over six years. We stopped eating factory farmed meats after discovering the inhumane conditions in which the animals were raised. We wanted to know firsthand where our food comes from and how it is raised.
‘The best way to accomplish this was to begin farming; raising our own meat and eggs. Our ancestors had been farming this area for many years, so it was only natural we would follow in their footsteps.
‘By doing this, we are now free to eat meat with a clear conscience, knowing that our animals were always treated with love and respect. Our animals have enjoyed happy lives, free of stress and fear.’
The couple also currently have 300 chickens which they sell to upscale restaurants for meat.
Both Adam and Emily have Scottish ancestry, but have never visited Scotland themselves.
‘It’s a dream of ours to travel there,’ Adam said.