I have always been involved in agriculture, having been brought up on a small commercial farm with my dad, farming has been in the family for generations.

When I was a wee boy, we always passed our next-door neighbours, the Mairs, at Kinnermit, Turriff, and I would always tell dad I wanted to work there. So, that is exactly what I did after I left school – staying there for four years – although I was more involved in the dairy enterprise than the sheep.

James Innes, of Strathbogie, offered me a job running his 900 ewes – split between pedigrees and commercials – where I have been for the past 19 years.

I have been lucky enough to start my own flock of pedigree Texels under the Foreman Hill prefix, although I’m just running six females.

What is it you are looking for in an animal?

I am always commercially minded they have got to have a good carcase and be correct. In the pedigree job, they need to have a lot of breed character to get into the top prices, but the commercial traits have got to be the foremost.

Coming from a commercial farm helps me to remember about the commercial attributes that we are all looking for.

My chosen breed has always been the Texels, I have always had the fascination for them, although I do also enjoy working with the Suffolk breed.

Chosen breed’s place in the commercial market?

Very strong as the Texel is an all-round sheep and suits the commercial farm. If you lamb that bit earlier, you can get lambs away quicker and on the flip side can still get strong store lambs for the back end.

Has the breed changed for the better?

It goes through spells. Some years, they tend to not be so good but then they bounce back and become even better. Overall, I would say the pedigree job has improved, but the commercial side has always been strong.

If you had to choose another breed to go into, what would it be?

I quite like the Bluefaced Leicester and the Blackface breeds, however I do think two breeds is enough. I don’t think my wife would appreciate anymore sales in one year.

What got you involved in showing?

When I started my career at Strathbogie they were just getting into the Texels, so we went to shows for a bit of promotion and to get our name out there.

We invested a lot in good foundation females, and got a name for that, which made people come and look at our tups. If you haven’t got a name in the pedigree world, people will tend to walk past your pen, so self-promotion is key in the industry!

Biggest showing achievement?

In 2018 we took the Suffolk championship and reserve Texel honours at the Royal Highland Show.

Another big competition for us is Turriff Show... there is just as much of a challenge there within Texels as there is at the Royal Highland, due to their being so many well-known breeders up here.

Best sale day?

Selling Texels at Lanark in 2014. We sold eight to average £16,078, topping at 48,000gns for Strathbogie Untouchable, closely followed at 32,000gns for Upgrade.

Two years later, we sold Strathbogie You’re Tupped for 42,000gns as well as our dearest tup to date, Yes Sir, in a private deal for 60,000gns retaining a third share, so we have had a good run in sales over the years.

Having established the Suffolk flock just six years ago – after buying foundation ewes from the Kenny Mair, Kinnermit, and Robbie Wilson, of Milnbank – every year we have a consistent run of sheep. The very first tup we sold, Strathbogie Jackpot, was champion at Stirling before making 20,000gns. So, after a really good start, that encouraged us to keep going and get into them a bit more.

Best animal that you have ever brought out?

The Royal Highland Texel reserve champion in 2018. As a ewe lamb she won her class in 2017 and came out as a gimmer to win again.

She was just such an all-round correct animal, her breed character was phenomenal and she always caught my eye, no matter what angle you looked at her she looked good.

But, she ended as a disaster story… a week after the show she was lying dead in the field. By far the saddest point in my career.

But what was the best animal that you have ever seen?

That would have to be the record breaking 350,000gns Sportsmans Double Diamond... everything about him is what a Texel should be.

Biggest disappointment?

Being the underbidders for Double Diamond and not taking him home.

It was the fear of him not breeding well that made us stop – we had already blown our budget!

Most influential person in your career?

My dad. He got me started in sheep and taught me all the basics to farming.

I also learnt a lot from watching Kenny Mair, although a lot of my career has been self-taught.

Best shepherd?

Allan Wight, of Midlock. How well presented his multitude of breeds are and being at the top end of the game in all is amazing in my eyes. Having so many different breeds and doing such a good job of them all speaks for itself.

Best kist parties?

Robbie Wilson at the Highland Show. He loves a good party if he wins... or not!

The year he won in 2017, the party was in full flight with 50 folk around his pens and he got up on his kist shouting ‘I am the king’, punching his hand in the air.

He is such a great character in the industry, seeing what he does encourages you to work harder and do things properly because he is so good at it himself.

Best quote?

Never listen to anyone who isn’t beating you.

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

Have my own flock and farm, although I am quite lucky how I have full control here at Strathbogie and run it as my own!

Best advice for someone starting off in the industry?

Work hard and don’t get too down if you are

not getting where you want to be, keep trying and don’t give up.

Best investment?

Millar’s Windbrook, a Texel tup that has bred a lot of good females and rams across the board, and has made a real stamp on our flock.

We invested 14,000gns in him, but he has certainly made his money back for us having sired the 35,000gns Strathbogie Ya Belter and our top price 60,000gns Yes Sir.

Any hobbies outwith farming?

I enjoy playing badminton and watching rugby. We also have six children, so my spare time is usually spent with them.

Could you imagine your life without showing?

Last year I didn’t miss the Highland Show. Having attended it religiously for the past 19 years getting a break was nice, however I have extremely missed out on it this year. You don’t appreciate it until you don’t have it!

It is the highlight of my year, and it is a good excuse for a bit of a social life. We can’t wait to return to the show circuit!

The future of showing?

I am hoping everything will return to how it was. The pandemic has put a lot of pressure onto some shows, however we just have to get them going again.

If there are shows on, there will be plenty of breeders delighted to get their stock in front of spectators again!