IT was the younger cattle that took centre stage at this week's Highland cattle sale at Oban, with a young heifer calf matching the breed record of 4000gns for that age bracket.

Queenie Strickland's January-born heifer calf, Sonasag 2 of Cladich, reached that height for the Dalmally-based Cladich fold of 40 breeding cows and was the dearest calf since an Achnacraig youngster made the same in the 1990s. Along with two other calves in the top bracket at 3200gns and 3000gns, this gave the fold a great average of £2400 for five calves – a point which pleased Mrs Strickland's herd manager, Stuart Campbell, no end.

The sale leader is by Campbell of Tilbouries – which sired all of the Cladich calf entries – which had been bought for 9000gns at Oban in February, 2016, when he was the reserve champion and is out of Sonasag of Ardoran a bought in cow which is by Whitelaw of Killochries, a bull which also bred well at Cladich when he was there.

The buyer was N Scott, buying on behalf of an estate, and he also went to 3000gns to get another of the Cladich calves. This was the January-born Demi Ogilvie Ruadh of Cladich, which was out of the Aonghas of An Sidean daughter, Demi Ogilvie 2 of Cladich.

The third Cladich calf in the money was the 3200gns February-born Lady Jane White 2 of Cladich which was bought by Willie Bange, for his fold in Germany.

Another youngster to hit the headlines was the pre-sale show's overall champion, breed president Gordon McConachie's Arin 3 of Culfoich, from Grantown-on-Spey. This was thought to be the first yearling heifer to attain the championship and this win also meant that the fold has now a female championship to add to its male top ticket achieved by Gordon's late father, Jimmy.

The breeding behind this one includes the 3800gns Jacob of Benmore, which has already sired a 5000gns bull for the fold. Reserve female at the Black Isle, she was out of Dunmor 1 of Culfoich, a daughter of Meirleach 1 of Culfoich, and goes off to join M and J Luscombe's Brandcliffe fold at Malham, Skipton, N Yorks, for 1500gns.

The day's second top price of 3500gns was paid by veteran breed enthusiast, Angus MacKay, who is gearing up for a new fold with the Achnagoul prefix at Inveraray, with four purchases. His top money was for the reserve female champion, the three-year-old heifer Capleadh Prioseag 11 of Broomrigg from Douglas and Sheila Fountain, from Lochmaben.

This one is by the privately bought Jock of Inversnaid and out of a dam line which goes back to a Browhaze purchase. She also comes in calf to the 1800gns stock bull at Broomrigg, Fergus Ruadh 5 of Knockendon.

  • The young handlers class at Oban continued to grow in quality and competitiveness, with young Logan Ross – a regular winner through the summer – taking the championship trophy.

The winner of the senior class, he beat off the strong challenge from Emily Armstrong from the junior section.

LEADING awards:

Junior young handler – Emily Armstrong; 2, Katie Cameron; 3, Sophie Brydso; 4, Blair Garrick; 5, Luke Mulligan; 6, Ethan Brains.

Senior young handler – 1, Logan Ross; 2, Iona Keys; 3, Alan Cameron.

Averages: six three-year-old heifers, £1995 (£2110 last year); six two-year-old heifers £1347.50 (£1675); 10 yearling heifers £876.05 (£807); 24 heifer calves, £1120 (£911); three cows, £1540 (£1050); three bull calves, £805 (nc).

Council to address low entries

While the sale went reasonably well for the breed, the society as a whole is worried about reduced numbers coming through for the autumn sale and is taking action to address the issue.

Breed president, Gordon McConachie, told The SF: "Council are going to canvas members who have shown at Oban in the last 10 years but don't any more, to see why they have stopped.

"We want to know if it is because of the costs involved, are they selling privately, are they crossing them, or is it the location of the main sales? Council has agreed to look into why numbers are falling at these sales and look to encourage entries back to more sustainable levels."

One option put forward by several breeders at Oban was that the autumn show and sale could be combined into a one day event, with a show in the morning and sale in the afternoon. Mr McConachie agreed that this was one option being looked at to reduce vendor's costs.