Bringing out a Royal Highland Show (RHS) champion once in a lifetime is the ambition of most pedigree stockmen.
But for Andrew Reid, the well-known stock manager for AJR Farms at Ellon, a haul of four championship rosettes with cattle from three different breeds – as well as three reserve interbreed titles – doesn’t quite cut it.
He still has his sights fixed on the RHS’s ultimate interbreed award, and after a couple of hours in his company you get the impression he won’t stop until he reaches his goal.
“Ever since I was young, it’s been my dream to win the Highland, but I haven’t quite achieved it yet,” he says.
“But that’s what drives me forward.”
His skill and dedication have seen him take home RHS championships with Aberdeen-Angus, Simmental and Charolais cattle, as well as a championship at this year’s Showcase at Ingliston and the interbreed award at the 2021 Yorkshire Show.
Countless other championships at county and local shows have stacked up since 1988, when Andrew began working with pedigree cattle, initially with Russell Taylor’s Moncur herd at Inchture.
He has worked closely with some of Scotland’s top cattle breeders and now looks after the Newlogie Charolais and Logie Aberdeen-Angus herds which are based at David Stubbs’ 1,000-acre farms at North Craigieford.
David invested heavily in building up both herds when he bought the farm in 2017, bringing in top Charolais genetics from France and Ireland and buying Maerdy Morwr, the impressive stock bull who was champion of champions at DC Thomson’s online show in 2020 and was crowned champion at the Royal Highland Showcase this summer, his first time away from the farm.
So, what’s Andrew’s recipe for success?
“You need the right animal to start with and an eye for one that will make it, but from then on it’s dedication, looking after it properly and getting it in the right condition at the right time,” he says.
But while breeding livestock and showing champions is a passion, selling sires is the business, and Andrew gets his biggest kick from seeing commercial farmers return to the herd for another bull because they’ve been pleased with a previous purchase.
This month he’s focusing on preparing four bulls – three Aberdeen-Angus and a Charolais – for the Stirling sales.
And while they’re haltered, walked, washed and preened like all other sires, he’s adamant the Logie bulls won’t be “overdone”.
“They’re fed at 7am, 5pm and again with mash at 10pm every night, but never ad lib,” he says. “We want them fit, but not carrying too much weight.”
While Stirling is an important showcase, and competition can lead to higher prices, the herd now sells bulls to a growing clientele straight from the farm.
“During lockdown, repeat customers who came to the farm kept us going, and it’s easier for them to see the bulls in their natural state,” he says.
His son, Andrew Jr, is equally keen on showing, and while he may be learning from the best, Andrew admits he’s a hard taskmaster.
“I’m fussy and I need things done right,” he says.
It’s a formula that clearly reaps rewards.