It proved a daring raid south, but one that paid huge dividends for Highland-based cattle breeders George Macarthur and his son, David.
Their first visit to the premier calf show and sale at Caledonian Marts in Stirling saw them win the supreme championship, create a new centre record and gross just over £13,000 for their four entries.
It also proved a sale to remember as there were 26 four-figure prices in total and a gigantic leap in the averages.
The Macarthurs have traditionally sold at Aberdeen and Northern Marts’ Spectacular, but this year decided to sell the calves from their operation at Mid Fleenas, Nairn, near Inverness through Stirling.
Yielding the biggest dividend for them was the aptly named Poacher, who stood spring-born champion and then overall before selling for £7000 – £500 more than the previous Caley record. Poacher, a 265kg March-born Limousin cross, was by the Macarthur’s stock bull, Dyke Triumph, and out of a British Blue cross cow. She had over the summer stood reserve female in the hotly contest commercial classes at Nairn Show and taken a second prize ticket at Grantown-on-Spey.
She was bought by Somerset-based show cattle exhibitor and butcher Michael Alford, who went to £2200 to get another from the Macarthurs – The Real McCoy, a 300kg March-born heifer by Normande Alpha and out of British Blue cross. Judge Robin Roberts, of Mathafarn Bach, Anglesey, said his leader was correct. “She had a hell of a nice style when she came out in her first class. Style was all the way through her from the head through the shoulders and along the top.”
The father and son team, who have 100 suckler cows on their 230 acre farming operation, also sold at £2400 A Touch of Class, a 300kg April-born heifer again by Triumph and out of a British Blue cross. Buyer of this one, which stood reserve commercial champion at Nairn and Grantown-on-Spey, was fish merchant and crofter Donald Morrison, of Kinlochbervie in north-west Sutherland.
Reserve overall and runner-up in the spring-born section was the Islay Show champion of champions and best calf in the island’s annual round farm competition – Mr P, a 255kg April-born Charolais cross bullock, by Newhouse Rob Roy and out of red Limousin cow, from Tom Epps, Ardnave, Islay.
He too was snapped up by Mr Alford at £2600.
Hugh and Lynne Dunlop, Ochiltree, Ayrshire, did the double in the autumn-born classes, taking the championship and reserve. Their leader was a home-bred previously unshown 405kg December-born Charolais cross heifer called Maisie. She is by Tullygarley Uni and out of a Limousin cross. It sold at £1450 to Scott Watson, of Carnoustie.
Runner-up was Black Betsy, a 410kg November-born Limousin cross heifer, by Silex and out of a British Blue cross. She took the interbreed at Fenwick show for the Dunlops, who have won several. She made £3200 to auctioneer Helen Rickard on behalf of an undisclosed buyer.
Outwith the champions there was a strong trade, topped at £3000 by D Hendry, Bannockburn, Stirling, for an autumn-born 360kg Limousin cross heifer that was bought by William Owen, of Cricieth, Wales.
Andrew Anderson, Elgin, Morayshire, sold at £2500 to Mr Morrison a 355kg February-born Limousin cross heifer called J-Lo, by Bailea Jackson and out of a Belgian Blue cross. At the same price was a 515kg autumn-born Charolais cross heifer from T Laird and Son, Cumnock, Ayrshire, to the Simmers, of Backmuir Trading Co, Keith, Morayshire.
Other leading prices included £2000 for David Henderson, Banton, Kilsyth; £1900 for J McLaren, of Murrayshall, North Third, Stirling, and £1700 each for John Robertson, Ballinluig, Pitlochry, T Laird and Son and Archie Macgregor (Allanfauld), Kilsyth.
Averages: 31 bullocks £1246.64 (301p/kg); 34 heifers £1516.90 (449p/kg) (Caledonian Marts).