A far from vintage show of Aberdeen Angus bulls for the first of United Auctions' Bull Sales at Stirling, saw averages rise £455 per head on the year, albeit for 18 fewer sold compared to the same sale in 2019.

Unfortunately, entries were down on the year with a good number of the top end bulls sold privately due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic and continued uncertainty in the market place. Add to that the continued strict social distancing restrictions, which meant there was no pre-sale show to allow potential buyers to view the bulls and more spring calving, and the event lacked the excitement associated with the Bull Sales.

However, a solid trade for the best of the bulls ensured 40 sold to average £5051, which represents a rise of £455 on the year with 18 fewer sold, with a 66% clearance.

Barrie Turner, chief executive of the Aberdeen Angus Society, said it had nevertheless been a great achievement just having a sale in such difficult circumstances and that people had at last been able to catch up with producers and fellow breeders albeit at a social distance and behind face masks.

"The main thing is, we were able to have a live sale. Yes there were fewer bulls forward, but then quite a few breeders have sold privately at home when there was so much uncertainty about future sales.

"The sales did lack atmosphere with no pre-sale show build up and without the huge numbers of spectators that normally attend the sales, but hopefully we will be able to use the exhibition hall more in February for some sort of parade of bulls," added Mr Turner.

The Scottish Farmer:

Ettrick Batman topped the trade at 10,000gns

It was also a cracking day for top Texel breeders, Gordon and David Gray, when they achieved a personal best amongst the all blacks, selling the lead priced bull at 10,000gns.

The father and son duo who run 20 cows in their Ettrick herd from Sunnycroft, Lindean, Selkirk, led the fray with Ettrick Batman, a 19-month-old son of Linton Gilbertines President, a bull bought for 17,000gns after standing pre-sale champion here.

Batman is the first single calf born out of the Thrunton Predator daughter, Ettrick Bella which has always produced twins in the past, and sold to Cameron Ewen, Meikle Toux, Cornhill, Banff.

The Scottish Farmer:

Mike and Melanie Alford took 9000gns for Foxhill Dominator

Mike and Melanie Alford, who are better known for their pedigree Limousin cattle from Foxhill Farm, Devon, also enjoyed a tip top trade for their first time selling Angus, since 1985, when they sold the second top priced bull, Foxhill Dominator at 9000gns, to AJ and WM Norrie, Wrae, Turriff.

Backed by the best of genetics, this ET March 2019-born bull, is bred from the GH Coverboy Eric daughter, Weeton Diamond Mist, which was bought at the 2015 herd sale for 7000gns and is a full sister to Weeton Diamond Mine which sold for 14,000gns as a 10-month-old calf. He is by Gretnhouse Blacksmith – a sire owned by his breeder Alasdair Houston with a half share sold to Tom and Jack Arnott, Haymount – that has bred several five-figure priced sales, and was brought out by Richard and Carol Rettie.

His full brother, Foxhill Dictator, which like Dominator has been residing with the Retties since July to avoid TB testing, made 6400gns. He heads up north to Orkney, with Liam Muir, Upper Onston, Stenness, Stromness.

The Scottish Farmer:

Drumhill Exeter made 8500gns for Jonathan and Lisa Doyle

Home-bred genetics were behind the best from the 50-cow Drumhill herd from Northern Ireland breeder, Jonathan Doyle, a civil engineer to trade, and his wife Lisa, from Co Down, when Drumhill Exeter made 8500gns, selling back across the Irish Sea to M Sheahan, Luddenmore, Grange, Co Limerick.

This 20-month-old bull also boasts a first-class pedigree being the first son sold at public auction by Drumhill Lord Hatfield, a bull that stood champion here in 2016 before selling for 11,000gns, out of Drumhill Evora, a Blelack Prince Challenger-sired cow that stood reserve female at Balmoral as a yearling.

The Scottish Farmer:

Best from Ballindalloch Home Farms was Ballindalloch Mr Peanut which made 7500gns

Ballindalloch Home Farms, Ballindalloch, managed by David Johnstone and his wife, Susan, also came up with the good when they sold Ballindalloch Mr Peanut for 7500gns. The first son sold by Wedderlie Timaru, a bull that bred last year's 17,000gns Wedderlie Bright Man for his breeders John and Marion Tilson and daughter Wanda Hobbs; Mr Peanut is bred from Ballindalloch Miss Primrose, a daughter of Ballindalloch Elton, which was used before being sold. He headed back up north with Alastair Grant, Middlefield, Forres, Nairn.

The Scottish Farmer:

Stephanie Dick's show calf, Stephick Ezra sold for 6800gns

One of the stand out show calves from 2019 made 6800gns for Stephanie Dick's select herd from Westerton, Cowie, Stirling, when Stephick Ezra, a 21-month-old bull sold to J King, South Hall of Dripps, Thorntonhall, Glasgow. No stranger to the limelight, Ezra is an ET son of the 15,000gns bull calf, Weeton Diamond Mine sold at the Weeton production sale in 2015, and bred from the Rawburn Black Hawk show heifer, Weeton Evora bought by Stephanie the same day at 4200gns. Unbeaten in the show ring, Ezra was junior male champion at the Stars of the Future as well as junior male at the Black Beauty Bonanza, last year.

The purchase of the in-calf Schivas Beautiful Maid, a Hallington Julius Eric-sired female at the herd dispersal in 2018 proved a worthwhile venture for Ross Farm, Gorebridge, Midlothian, when her 18-month-old calf made 6200gns when brought out by Mark Ross. He is by Netherton Kentucky and sold to Andrew Ewing, Dumbretton, Annan.

Tonley Lord Hoffman, a 22-month-old bull from the 9000gns purchase Blelack Lady Heather bought at the Blelack production sale in 2016, made 5500gns for Neil and Mark Wattie's Tonley herd from Alford, Aberdeenshire. He is by Blelack Duke, a son of the American sire, Lagrand Maf Antidote and is a half sister to Tonley Lady Heather which stood junior inter-breed champion at the Stars of the Future and heifer calf champion at the Black Beauty Bonanza. Lord Hoffman goes out to work at Easter Tulloch Farm, Laurencekirk.

Another three bulls matched that 5500gns bid to include Charles McCombie's Auchincrieve Jekyll Eric from Auchincrieve, Rothiemay, Aberdeenshire. This 19-month-old is by by Blelack Lord Hermes and out of the Isauld Blackhawk daughter, Auchincrieve Jasmine Erica.

Blelack Lord Impeccable from Neil and Graeme Massie, Blelack, Dinnet, hit the same price tag when selling to near neighbours, Gellan Farms, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire. He is by Weeton Evolution, whose first son made 15,000gns in February, and bred from the Hallington Picasso daughter, Blelack Lady Image.

Later, Murray Lyle's April 2019-born Logan Bar Emperor, from Mid Cambushinnie, Dunblane, attracted the last of the 5500gns sales when he was knocked down to Messrs Sinclair. The successful mating here includes the sire Wedderlie Kenyon onto the Kitewood Elevator-sired Logan Bar Eston Anne.

* The small but selective collective sale of females saw prices peak at 4000gns on two occasions. First up was the Trustees of the late Gordon Brooke's Gordon Duchess, an August 2018-born heifer from Upper Huntlywood, Earlston. She is by the 18,000gns Balmachie Jack Eric, bred from the Netherallan Peter Pershore-sired Linton Gilbertines Duchess, and sold due in February to Rawburn Java Eric. Northern Ireland breeder, John McWibbin, Kilweel, Co Down, was the final bidder.

Minutes later, Neil and Mark Wattie, received the same money for Tonley Empem, a Warrenho Emperor daughter out of a previous home-bred Empem by Hurdcott Elixier. She sold with June-born heifer calf by Tonley Pato and served to Tonley Jester Eric, to Andrew Mylius, St Fort, Newport on Tay.