Averages: 11 two-year-old bull, £3360 (-£793); seven three-year-old bulls, £4814.25 (+£2224.25); four yearling bulls, £1167.60 (-£34.40); three senior heifers, £3420 (+£1320); seven three-year-old heifers, £1372.35 (-£265.65); five two-year-old heifers, £2089.50 (+644.50); 11 yearling heifers, £630 (-£195).

IT WAS a bit of a mixed bag in terms of both quality and prices at this week's sale of Highland cattle in Oban, but export buyers vying with 'home-bred' breeders helped put a gloss on the top end.

There was a healthy demand for quality and newly installed breed president, Gordon McConachie, pointed out: "We had bidders from Italy, Belgium, France and Ireland, but it was nice to see UK buyers dominating the sale and one positive was that there is plenty of interest out there for potential stock bulls."

That was evident whenever anything of any quality came into the ring and one of those was the reserve champion from Michael Poland and brought out by his stockman Willie McLean, from West Ferlochan, Benderloch. Eoin Mhor 17 of Mottistone is a red three-year-old by Eoin Mhor 8 of Mottistone, a former champion from the Glasgow International Show in 2012 which has really stamped his class on the fold, breeding many champions prior to this.

Going to 10,000gns to get the use of this ready-to-work youngster out of Solas Molach 4 of Mottistone, was Dan McLaughlin, who was buying for Castles Estate, near Dalmally – which is a hard hill where this bull's tremendous legs and feet will be put to best use.

The float home to Castles was shared with two of the better heifers as well. The dearest of those was the second top-priced female, the rising four-year-old senior heifer Gruagach 51 of Ormsary, from Sir William Lithgow, of Ormsary, Lochgilphead, and brought out by Archie McArthur and Alan Bosomworth.

This daughter of Callum 2 of Goldenberry was bought for 3500gns due at the end of March to Meall Ghaordaidh of Meggernie and she was joined on the road to Castles by her 2500gns fold-mate, another in-calf heifer by Callum 2, Susan 22 of Ormsary, which is again in calf to the Meggernie service sire.

There was plenty of demand, too, for the supreme champion bull, Eachann Ruadh of Hyndford, which was a popular winner for Alan Prentice, of Ravenstruther, Lanark.

This one was bid to 8000gns by the judge, Charlie McLean – who is better known as manager of the Mortimers Charolais herd – who bought him for his own and son Donald's Mortimers fold of five cows.

This son of Alan's show stock bull, Alexander of Glengorm, has been catching the eye of judges for the last couple of years, while his dam, Banrigh 3 of Hyndford, is herself a former Highland show supreme.

Mr Prentice, one of the great supporters of the breed was getting his best price yet at the Oban sale.

A red, almost brindle bull from another long-time breed supporter, David Soutar, who keeps a few cows and some sheep since retiring as farms manager at Strathmore Estate, was third in the price ratings at 7500gns.

This one, Fionn Mhor of Strathellie, was bred from a cow bought out of Strathmore's Glamis Castle fold, Baravalla Uasail 11 of Glamis Castle, when Mr Soutar retired and is the last calf by Douglas of Roisbheinn. Fionn Mhor has already had some success in the show ring and is an 'out of season' August-born bull from 2015. He was bought by Julia Carr, Marrick Park, Richmond, N Yorks.

The reserve two-year-old bull, Coirneal 2 of Balmoral, came next for HM The Queen's Balmoral fold, from Deeside, which is looked after by Dochie Ormiston. A junior champion from the National last year, this son of Prionnsa Dubh of Craigowmill was bid to 5500gns by Michael Poland who, as well as having stock at West Ferlochan, also has a large fold on the Isle of Wight.

Top of the black bulls was Gille Dubh Mairearad of Ardbhan from Angus MacDonald, from North Uist, which was brought out for sale by son Fraser and his wife Carrianne.

Taking this son of Harris of Sorne to 5000gns was Archie McArthur, buying for Sir William Lithgow. This three-year-old will spend this year at Ormsary, but is really being targeted at the Inver fold of mainly black Highlanders on Jura.

The Ardbhan fold is one of the biggest in the herd book and numbers 150 cows, with the bottom end now going to a Shorthorn.

The same home also got 3500gns for another black bull, the three-year-old Gille Dubh Zoe of Ardbhan, by the same sire, which sold to Graham Keep, Sycamore Farm, Bramford, Ipswich.

Flying over from Ireland by helicopter to the sale, auctioneer Richard Beattie was a regular bidder, buying a new stock bull for 4000gns in the shape of Dexter Logan's Sesh Mhor of Blairlogan, from Greenhead, Alva. By Logan of Muingairigh – a bull bred by Dexter's late mentor, Angus MacColl on Mull – this one is out of the same family as the Great Yorkshire champion cow in 2004.

Dexter and his girlfriend, Carolyn Ross and her son, Logan Ross, also had a big hand in bringing out the supreme champion heifer, Furan Magaidh 7 of Glengorm, from Tom Nelson, Glengorm Castle, Tobermory, Mull, which led the female trade at 3800gns.

Picked out by Mr MacColl and Mr Nelson, two years ago for showing on the mainland during 2017, this one was champion of champions at Bute Show and reserve at Dalmally last year. The buyer was AE Glover, School Farm, Bagshaw Lane, Aspull, Wigan.

One of the runners-up for the champion bull, the Balnabroich fold owned by Sir Michael and Lady Sally Nairn, from Strathardle, finally go a new stock bull for 3000gns. This was Hunter of Earn, a son of Nero of Earn, from Mrs Heather Corrigall, from Nigg, in Easter Ross.

The McKechnie team from France Farm, Gartocharn, had a sell out of their Oban offering, with three heifers in the top bracket.

Dearest for Jim and Catherine was a 3000gns bid for the three-year-old Catriona 4 of Gartocharn, which was reserve female champion in the show. A daughter of Brogach 1 of Balmoral and out of a Woodneuk cow, she was bought by WH Davies, Wauhlwyd, Ystradowey, Swansea.

Stephen and Rosie Hunter, from Barnhill, Allanton, Shotts, went to 2000gns to get another three-year-old by the Balmoral sire, Lisa 2 of Gartocharn, while the same money was paid by Roy Tylden-Wright, Uvie, Laggan, for Kirsty 3 of Gartocharn, a two-year-old by Brogach 2 of Balmoral.

Off to Italy with Donatella Acella at 3000gns was Sydney and Maureen O'Hara's Fraoch 1 of Cnoc, a two-year-old heifer by Adamh 1 of Achnacroish. Brought out by stock manager Ian McKay, she is out of a Southmuir dam.

The next lot in made 2800gns. That was Una 4 of Corntown from Ron MacLean, from Conon Bridge, who sold this two-year-old daughter of Josh of Earn to L and L Braines, West Edmondsley, Durham.

Dearest of the cows forward was Hayley 5 of Earn, an eight-year-old daughter of Brogach 1 of Auchtenny from Donald and Bryon MacNaughton, from Kelty, in Fife. She was sold in calf to Bein Gael of Earn, the 2016 male champion from the Highland, for 2000gns to the new Auchleeks fold, at Blair Atholl.

* A tremendous show put on by young handlers saw 12-year-old Logan Ross win his way through from the junior section to lead overall. The senior winner was Kerrie MacGillivray.