Hardy Highlanders put on biggest spring show for years

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Highland cattle enthusiasts headed to Oban from around the world at the weekend to witness the hardy breed society’s 128th Spring Show and Sale.

The town was buzzing and the Royal Hotel booked out as breeders and buyers and members of the Highland Cattle Society gathered for the spectacle at Oban Livestock Centre.

Organisers said the 128th Spring show was the biggest for years, with numbers of animals up by more than 20 on 2018.

Good numbers showed the increasing popularity of the breed not just in Scotland but beyond the borders as the farming community ‘recognises the value of having tough economic genetics on their farms and the need for this type of cattle for both income and conservation,’ said the Society.

Breed Secretary David Hyland added: ‘We are well up on numbers from last year and are delighted.’

Judge Alun Garton said standards were so high that it made deciding the winners difficult: ‘As usual there was high standard of animals and stockmanship. The standard of the cattle was a lot higher than the last couple of years making it difficult to select winners.’

Cattle, descending from the original Highland bloodlines, travelled from all over the UK to take part as well as many original folds from the West Coast and Western Isles.

The animals started arriving at the mart on Friday and Saturday to get  washed and groomed ready for the show on Sunday with its 14 classes.

Competition for the champion bull was fierce with many summer show champions in the mix but the overall bull champion was eventually declared as  two-year-old bull Brodie of Corntown from Ron MacLean with the reserve being the Senior Bull Eoin Mhor 18th of Mottistone from Michael Poland.

Judge Mr Garton said: ‘The Overall Champion was a worthy winner, he had good locomotion confirmation and the breed characteristics we are looking for in an animal.’

The heifers classes followed the bulls, again with some notable champions among them.

Monday’s sale reflected the quality of the cattle and the demand for both bulls and heifers across the UK. The top price of 11,000gns for Lot 36 was paid for Muran Eerchie of Ardbhan UK501273401283. Born 21/04/16 . He will leave Scotland for his new home in Germany. The Ardbhan fold is  on North Uist owned by Mr and Mrs Angus MacDonald.

Also in the sale were quality heifers, two of them bought by The Yorkshire Vet of Channel 5 fame. The TV crew who follow the work of Skeldale Veterinary Centre in Thirsk – once the practice of James Herriot – were at the sale.

Auctioneer Raymond Kennedy from United Auctions said the sale offered breeders both new and old, a fantastic opportunity to add to and strengthen the genetics of their own folds with some of the UK’s top cattle.

‘Another highlight of the sale was the inclusion of an excellent draft of pedigree in calf stock heifers and a selection of pure bred bullocks which showcase the versatility of the breed. It was a joy and an honour to sell such quality stock, Mr Kennedy added.

And Gordon McConachie, President of the Highland Cattle Society said: ‘More and more land managers are recognising the importance of Highland genetics to produce economic suckler cows which will contribute to production of public goods at the same time as providing farm income at low cost and good margins. Our shows and sales in Oban are a celebration of all things Scottish.’

The full results from the show will go online at obantimes.co.uk