With an illustrious and successful career both in and outwith the showring, there are fewer better respected than Roderick Runciman, who has certainly made his mark in the sheep world over the years.

Here he opened up about his career highs and experiences with Kathryn Dick, The Scottish Farmer.

What’s your background?

I was born and brought up at Allanshaws Farm, alongside my parents and three brothers. Allanshaws is a true sheep farm and I was the only brother that was interested in sheep, which is the reason as to why I am still at the family farm. After leaving the school at the age of 15, my father bought me my first dog and stick and told me to "get on with it", so I have had to learn from my mistakes!

I farm alongside my wife Amanda, our son Lewis (17) and daughter, Libby (15) and we currently manage a herd of 100 suckler cows and 900 sheep, comprised of 400 North Country Cheviots that are tupped to Bluefaced Leicesters. This mix produces 350-375 Cheviot Mule ewe lambs that we sell annually to regular buyers.

I breed my own NCC replacements as well as Bluefaced Leicesters for home use. I also have some Texels and a small number of Suffolk sheep for fun!

What got you into showing livestock in the first place?

My father had no interest in showing sheep but going to shows at a young age and looking around the pens of sheep got me thinking. I knew that we had just as good sheep at home but they weren’t fed for the job, so I decided that I would give showing a bash!

What qualities do you like about the breeds that you work with over others?

The farm is home to predominately North Country Cheviots and we find that they are the kindest, most motherly sheep to work with, whilst also being an attractive looking breed!

The traditional Bluefaced Leicester's are also fantastic to work with as long as you can keep the lambing percentage down to 200%. As I don’t do caesareans in any breed, the Texels do take more management.

What was your first Royal Highland Show?

I don’t think that I have ever missed a Royal Highland Show, however I started showing around 30 years ago.

Which was the best animal that you’ve ever shown?

There are two outstanding sheep that I have shown over the years, the first being Allanshaws Pam which has won the Royal Highland, Great Yorkshire and Kelso shows.

The second sheep would have to be Allanshaws Nessie – she stood champion at Kelso Show, as well as Black Isle, in 2014, which was the North Country Cheviot National Show that year – the only disappointment was that the Royal Highland Show was too early in the season for her.

But what was the best animal that you’d ever seen?

It would have to be the traditional Blueface Leicester, named Sparky, that was shown by Nick Robinson around 15 years ago. This ewe was so correct and had exceptional character and mobility and just represented the breed perfectly. However, the outstanding North Country Cheviot has still to be born....and hopefully it will originate from Allanshaws!

Changes over the years in the showing world – good and bad?

A positive change would be that there is more competition across all the breeds and long many that continue! A bad change, in my opinion, is that some show animals are getting fed heavier, which can result in the loss of character and mobility.

You’re most abiding memory?

A special memory that comes to mind would be when I sold my first four figure tup at which made £2000 and topped the North Country Cheviot sale in the mid 1990's.

Biggest disappointment in your career?

No single memory sticks out however, getting run out of a tup that I have had my heart set on is very disappointing – thankfully it hasn’t happened often over the years.

Another would be when I have to look up SB and Co phone number, which means I have had a death on the farm...now that is a BIG disappointment.

Most influential person in your career?

Apart from my mother and father, there are three people that have helped me along the way. All are retired shepherds; Adam Brockie, Dave Armstrong and the late Johnie Nichol. They never told me an awful lot but I learned everything I know today about showing sheep from them and I can't thank them enough.

What’s been your favourite show over the years and why?

It has to be the Royal Highland Show. Why I hear you ask....because I don't have to drive home!! I always drive at the local shows but Lewis has the 'L' plates installed on his car so it will be his turn to drive us to and from the shows very shortly – hopefully for the 2021 season.

Another favourite would have to be our local show, Kelso, mainly due to the fantastic setting and atmosphere.

Your choice of best stockman ever?

One would have to be the late Michael Dun for his ability to judge any kind of stock, whether it be sheep, cattle, horses – you name it, he could judge it and he will always stick in my mind. However, choosing an all round stockman is a very hard decision between Allan Wight, Steven Renwick, Ian and Patsy Hunter and Robert McNee – all of whom are always near the top and not only within the one breed.

Best and worse advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I have received would be "one hour in the morning is worth two in the afternoon". The worst I've been told is "buy that tup, it will breed you a tup" – that is definitely not how it comes together!

Biggest showing achievement?

There are three, which include winning the interbreed championship at the Royal Highland Show, securing the first interbreed championship at Kelso Show and achieving the first NCC champion rosette at the Royal Highland Show. Every red ticket is a great achievement, whether it be at the Royal Highland or any smaller shows.

Any hobbies or interests outwith farming?

I used to play rugby for Melrose and was lucky to win the three Scottish championships with Jim Telfer as our coach – he could get the best out of every player. However, I now play golf and watch rugby whenever I have some free time.

What’s the future of the show circuit?

We need every show around the country to carry on – it's a great way to help and educate the general public about farming. We as farmers also need to get off the farm and enjoy what our shows have to offer. In my mind, every show is a shop window for our stock and if you want to show then you’ll find the time to do so – here's hoping they have a bright future.