Consistently being able to breed and bring out show and sale winning livestock, takes skill, patience, dedication and a huge amount of hard work – characteristics the team from Dyke are well acquainted with in producing pedigree Limousins along with some top-notch Blackface, Texel and Scotch Mule sheep.

Well known for producing several of the lead priced Limousins at United Auctions' Bull Sales in February and indeed the May event over the years, owners Jimmy and Donald MacGregor and stockman John Duncan to include his wife Elaine and their family of Scott, Orla and Eleanor – who all help out – have another cracking consignment for next month's sale with all five boasting estimated breeding values (EBVs) in the top 25% of the breed, with one in the top 1%.

Add to that a clean bill of health, with a Johnes Level Risk 1 and the five bulls – to include the inter-breed beef champion from Campsie Show – again look set to make the grade.

Three are by Dyke Gandalf, the home-bred son of Fieldson Alfy retained for breeding, that bred bulls to 8500gns and 8000gns last year. The other two are by the 8500gns Netherhall Gilbert, a stock bull that not only bred Dyke MacBeth – the 13,000gns top priced bull at last year's February sales – but also several other lead sellers to average in excess of £7000 for six in 2018.

Gandalf was also the sire of the MacGregor's 10-month-old bull calf, Dyke Mandela, sold at the family's autumn/winter calving portion sale at Carlisle, in 2017.

However, while pedigree sales take up much of their time, the father and son team from Milton of Campsie, just outside Glasgow, was quick to point out that the breed was introduced for its commercial attributes which, to this day, remains key to its success on this 1300-acre upland unit of which 900acres is made up of hill ground.

"The Limousin really suits the farm here as it produces a comercial type cow and a calf that yields a good butchers' carcase," said Jimmy who farms in partnership with his wife Sheila and son Donald and his wife Lisa, while their two daughters Grace (10) and Blythe (6) are still at school.

"I was never that interested in pedigree cattle when we moved here in 1991 when the family business at Allanfauld was split three ways, so we did have more Limousin cross cattle in the early days, along with three pedigree Limousins and a few Charolais. However, when we found the pure Limousins were just as easy to run and produced higher margins, we sold off the commercials and the Charolais and gradually increased the pedigree Limousin herd."

Donald added: "Being a medium-sized, easy-fleshed cow, the Limousin really suits out ground which can be particularly wet. Pedigree Limousin cows are also just as easy to calve as the commercials and their progeny tends to be worth that bit more," he said adding that young bulls that don't make the grade regularly sell through Caledonian Marts at Stirling for £1400-£1500 per head.

Backing up these statements, John Duncan, who has worked at Dyke for almost 30 years, said: "Limousins are great cattle to work with, but I am with them every day and I do enjoy bringing the bulls out for the sales," he said.

"They're just as easy to work with as commercial cows, if not more so, and with the herd being out wintered, they are easy calved too. More than 90% of the cows here will calve themselves with only the odd heifer needing a bit of a pull," John added.

With all autumn and winter calving pedigree cows sold having averaged £4300, in August 2017, the business' 45 females now calve down in April having been wintered outdoors. After weaning in September, all cows head to the green molinia hill ground on Dyke which rises to 1800ft above sea level, where they are fed beet pulp from mid November onwards.

They are nevertheless brought closer to home mid February and are wintered in an old quarry where they have access to round bale silage only before coming inside to straw bedded courts just before calving.

While many of the cattle go back to the three original Allanfauld Limousins, others purchased in the early days include females from the late Bert Leitch's Dunmor herd from Mull; Ronald and David Dick's Ronick herd; Paul and Richard Byas' Middledale herd and Parkhouse Eclipse, a Parkhouse Bosco-sired cow bred by Tom Cheshire.

It's the latter that has proved one of the best breeders too, being the dam of Dyke Gandalf, while Dunmor Gwen produced several good breeding females in the herd to include Dyke Pat which produced a 9000gns bull sale at Stirling. No females have been purchased in the past 10 years.

On the bull side of the equation, Dyke has bought several stockbulls but has also used home-bred youngstock in a bid to improve the uniformity of the progeny.

The first stockbull was the jointly purchased Bailea Imij, with the second being the 10,000gns Haltcliffe President, another partnership acquired youngster that bred sons to 7000gns in Dyke Triumph which in turn produced a £7000 commercial calf.

Ardbrack Taketime and Cappaduff Aaron, were other jointly purchased bulls that bred sons to 9500gns and 6000gns, respectively for the herd, while Drumduff Champ produced the first two five-figure priced boys for the MacGregors with Dyke Fugitive making 11,000gns and Dyke Frosty selling for 10,000gns.

Cloughhead Delboy was another to make his mark having sired bulls to 9000gns and 8500gns.

"We look to buy bulls with good tops, ends, and easy calving and milk figures. We also look for bulls with a bit of length as we take all our bulls to Stirling where the market is more for bulls with a bit more stretch," said Donald.

"Stirling is so handy for us as it's only half an hour away and we have a lot of repeat customers there."

Outwith the cattle herd, Dyke is also home to a further 30 pedigree Texels, 260 home-bred Scotch Mules that lamb lamb to a Texel; 450 Blackies crossed to the Bluefaced Leicester and a further 600 Blackface ewes bred pure. Needless to say this little if any chance of much of a party at the Bull Sales, but it is an event the whole team look forward to.

- Made up quote !!! - "The Limousin breed has improved immensely over the years and particularly at Stirling where it's always great to catch up with friends old and new while also seeing how some of the best Limousin youngstock in the country are performing," concluded Donald.