James Royan bought his first Dorset ewe when he was only eight years old and, while his career has taken a completely turn around from sheep breeding, he has maintained a passion for the versatile and docile breed.

His father Jim Royan was running the family butcher’s shop in Elgin, Morayshire, and it was his good friend Dean Anderson who first introduced young James to the Dorset.

“I was more interested in the livestock side and I spent most of my weekends helping out at Dean Anderson’s Mayne Farm, Elgin where at the time he had Dorset Horns. I bought my first Dorset Horn, an in-lamb aged ewe, in 1981 for £32 from Dean,” said James, who in 2007 became the first Scotsman to be elected onto the council of the Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset Sheep Breeders’ Association and last November became the association's first Scots chairman.

It was in 2007 that James was able to start up his first pedigree flock too when he moved to his wife Vicki’s family farm at Putton Mill, Duns, having previously taken up a careeer as a PE teacher and latterly with the Police Force, where he still works.

His first female purchases were from the 200-ewe pedigree Ramsden flock run by Michael and Robyn Butler, at Bartlehill, Kelso, along with the ram Ramsden Hunter, which went back to the Rene flock from Australia.

James' Bennachie flock is now run at Putton Mill, and farmed by his father-in-law and brother-in-law Frank and Bruce Millar. It numbers 25 ewes and 10 ewe lambs with a handful of selective females purchased over the years, most of which come from the Huish flock.

The flock is Signet recorded which James sees as an important tool to complement visual appearance and one which he believes is becoming increasingly important when marketing breeding stock.

Ramsden Hunter was in the top 25% of the breed for terminal traits and his most recent purchase Sherborne Zodiac from Rob Hole, at the May Fair Sale, was placed third in the Signet recorded class and is in the top 1% for terminal traits.

The current stock ram, Ballytaggart Xtra-special was purchased from Thomas Wright in March 2016 for a four figure sum and his first sons were sold at this year’s May Fair and some of his daughters will be sold at the Carlisle sale at the end of August.

James has also triumphed at national shows winning the Northern Dorset Breeders' Club championship on several occasions

“I am keen to show as it is a good shop window for the flock. I aim to breed females with a bit of scale, correctness and good locomotion. Personally, I don’t like my ewes to be overly masculine. I want to breed rams with strong carcase traits.

“I'm looking to sell high quality breeding sheep and as a consequence of that there are always some prime lambs to sell which are currently sold through the co-op, Farmstock Scotland or through the live ring at St Boswells. I have also recently undergone an inspection with Dawn Meats and hope to market lambs to M and S in the near future.

“They have all done well. The pure bred lambs will sell at about 45kg and kill out at an average 50%. My early lambs for the Easter trade made in excess of £100 a head to average £93 a head.”

The Dorsets fit in well with James’ role in the police. “One of the strong points of the Dorset is they are easy to lamb and they can lamb at any time of the year. The Dorset is not photosensitive unlike other sheep breeds which makes them come into season as the days shorten in Autumn."

James added: “The number of Dorset breeders is increasing year on year and we now have 15 members in Scotland. Ten years ago when I became a council member I was the only one,” said James.

Because the sheep are easily handled, all the family gets involved to include wife Vicki, daughter Katie (11) and son Jack (8) both of whom are keen to show.

James will be going back to his Dorset roots for the agm on November 10-11, the formal part of which is being held in Elgin on the first day. This is followed by a visit to Dean and Andrew Anderson’s Plewlands Farm, Duffus, just outside Elgin to see the flock of 200 Poll Dorsets.