The duo of many talents at bringing out show cattle, Stewart and Lynsey Bett from Stirling, share their expertise in the trade on the run up to LiveScot later this month.

Both in full time occupations the show cattle are seen as a ‘hobby’ for the husband-and-wife team, buying in two commercial cattle annually to travel the length and breadth of the country with. The show calves will be housed at Stewarts’ work on behalf of the Dick family, Westerton Farm, Cowie.

“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do with our show calves if it wasn’t for the Dick family’s support, they have been there for us from day one and have been good to us over the years,” said Stewart, who has worked there for 14 years now. Originally from Abernethy near Perth, Stewart grew up on a small farm and got interested in cattle. Beginning his show career in 1988 at the Royal Highland Show with help from the late, Gordon Aitken.

An Ayrshire bird by heart, Lynsey grew up on her family dairy farm before first attending the Ingliston event in 1990, when she rode with the Eglinton Hunt Pony Club games team. Having met Stewart at the Royal Welsh Show in 2003 the rest is history! Now accompanied by their two-year-old daughter, Darcy.

The team attend various shows to include the Royal Highland, Great Yorkshire, Agri Expo, LiveScot and the Welsh Winter Fair – to name just a few, and not to forget the local shows – Ayr, Drymen, Gargunnock, Stirling, Dunblane, Braco, Perth and Kinross. There is very few Saturdays during the summer you will not find Stewart and Lynsey in the show ring, or maybe even the beer tent!!

Read more: All go for Scottish National Fatstock Club

“Our favourite has got to be the Great Yorkshire, it is a much more relaxed event for us as we only have our own beasts to look after whereas the Highland we are much busier! Showing is a great aspect of our social life that we just love,” said Lynsey.

Stewart adding: “Come the winter shows there is no better feeling than having been competing at LiveScot and jumping on the bus to head to the Welsh Winter Fair, it is always such a good spirit and it brings back Old Smithfield memories.

It all comes down to the winning tickets in the show ring, having won the Scottish Winter Fair in 2012 with Marvellous Mo and taking the blue and white sash at Agri Expo at Carlisle in 2017, the duo are no strangers to the top. The best achievement during the summer would be ruling supreme at Great Yorkshire Show in 2015.

“It isn’t always full of glory, there is always going to be disappointments in the industry, every time you get beat is a disappointment, but you have to not give up. There are also times you will win and perhaps didn’t deserve to, it swings round in roundabouts. The important part is showing cattle you are happy with,” added Stewart, who tends to buy in two show calves annually from the same homes.

“We feel if you stick with regular vendors they look after you. We have had great success with various calves over the years, so we have no reason not to return,” added Lynsey.

Buying in calves suits the system better for the duo due to keeping cattle at Ronick. Breeding a good show calf would require having more cows that they do not have space for.

“We feel buying in our calves works well, as we know what we are getting," explained Stewart, who is looking for an animal with plenty of character, style and shape with a good head and correct throughout, needing that little extra shine to be a real winner.

Lynsey added: “Buying that ‘ideal’ calf comes at a price which is why we are lucky we both have full time jobs. We do it for the love of it and not for the money-making enterprise. It is a great way to learn showmanship and the presentation of the cattle now a days is second to none, everyone takes real pride in their work.

The cost of showing does make it difficult for youngsters trying to get involved in the circuit.

“You have to think about what you are buying and have a plan in place. You can’t buy something and then think where you are going to take it, it needs to be relevant and the right age for events to make an influence,” advised Stewart, adding that fellow breeders out there are also happy to help any youngsters on their way.

“The important part is that the hard work is done at home, there are too many people that only want that limelight on show day and do not realise the hours of work that goes on behind the scenes.”

Stewart has previously given back his time having been Clyde and Central Young Farmers Stock Judging trainer for three years. Committing to this challenge he has managed to help them secure the Glasgow Herald Trophy on all three occasions.

“I enjoyed giving my time back to the young farmers that are keen to learn, they were a good bunch of eager youngsters that want to do well,” said Stewart.

Ahead of this year’s LiveScot event the duo have two calves forward, the British Blue cross bullock, Hurricane and the Limousin cross heifer, Twister. Both are bred by JS Baillie and Co from Orkney and have been exhibited at various shows this summer.

Having been exhibiting at LiveScot since 1992, Stewart and Lynsey have managed to secure the overall in 2012 with Marvellous Mo; female champion with Queen Bee in 2019 and reserve supreme just last year with Red Hot Ruby.

“We are looking forward to getting back to the event this year to get back to a proper fatstock show and having a bit of banter with our friends! Last year’s event was a great way of getting around the Covid regulations but having everyone back in Lanark will be rewarding,” said Stewart, who will sell his calves at the Welsh Winter Fair.

“It used to be all about the butchers’ sales come the end of the year, now however a lot of people do not want to see good heifers being killed – obviously the bullocks are a different story – a lot of these heifers will be bought for breeding,” said Stewart.

“Overall, we think the future of shows is strong, there are a lot of keen youngsters coming through, but the smaller local shows needs everyone’s support. We would love to see Darcy come through into agriculture and love it just as much as we both do.

“Yes, there is good years and bad years, but the future is bright for the industry!

“Although the commercial cattle are a bit of our hobby and passion, we both love it and wouldn’t change it for the world,” said Lynsey.

Stewart added: “If we buy in too many cattle you don’t have the same time to spend on each of them and you simply just can’t do them as well.

“Two is the perfect fit in a trailer and at the end of the day you only need one to win!,” concluded Stewart and Lynsey.

Farm facts

Who is all involved? Stewart and Lynsey.

Breed/ livestock numbers? Buy in two show cattle annually.

Background? Both in full jobs from farming backgrounds.

Full time occupation? Stewart has worked for the Dicks at Ronick for 14 years, whilst Lynsey is a head veterinary nurse at Loch Leven Equine Practice at Kinross.

On the spot questions

Answered by Stewart

• Best investment? Lynsey!

• Best advice? Work hard play hard

• Biggest achievement? Darcy

• Favourite restaurant? Lion and Unicorn at Thornhill

• Best thing about life in Stirling? Being central to most things, and having family and friends close by