Turning out champion-winning stock year on year is an achievement in itself, but to find success in more than one breed is what makes George Harvey a notable cattle 'Breeder of our Time'.

Here, he related to The Scottish Farmer about a successful career in the world of pedigree cattle breeding and his choice of best breeders.

What’s your background?

I was born in Balfron some years ago and was brought up there ... and somehow ended up back there!

My father, Jimmy, was an Aberdeen-Angus cattleman with the Balfron, Haymount and Gaidrew herds and, as a school boy, I worked at Gaidrew until the herd dispersed in 1968.

After I left school, I served an engineering apprenticeship in Glasgow, which led me to doing some work in Germany and London. During my time in London, I met my wife, Maggie and after some years I managed to convince her that Scotland was the place to be – so we moved back home to set up a foot trimming business and livestock enterprise with my brothers, John, Jim and Eddie.

We went to Carlisle to purchase our first Limousin female from Robert Graham, in the form of Graham’s Ballerina. As John was the past stockman there at the time, the interest in Limousin cattle was already there on his part and he knew the cows well.

We then decided one breed wasn’t just cutting it, though, so went up to Perth Bull Sales to buy an Aberdeen-Angus. On that day the Angus females had been making too much money, so we decided to buy a Hereford and ended up purchasing Panmure 1 Crocus 3 from the Cant family and to this day, she is the animal that all our Herefords relate back to.

After a few years of John and I being together, John decided to go back to being a stockman as he was before, so I continued with the foot trimming business and the cattle, with John still helping at shows, as well as giving advice along the way.

One of the main events for me used to be Smithfield, where pure-breds used to out-rule the cross-bred cattle in numbers. In 1990 – my first year showing – we took three pure-bred cattle to Smithfield: the Hereford, Harveybros 1 Crocus K2; the Limousin, Harvey’s Dancer and the Galloway, Ben Lomond.

That same year was also my first attempt at showing at the Royal Highland Show and I've never missed a Highland since.

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

For me there are two heifers that stand out. I have to mention my Limousin heifer, Harvey’s Atique and Sophie’s Hereford heifer, Harveybros 1 Crocus Rose – both of these animals will stick in my mind forever.

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

Again there are two animals that stick in my mind, first would be the Charolais cow, Kilkenny Celia, and then the Simmental cow, Darshams KitKat.

If you could change one thing about your breed what would it be and why?

With the Limousins, the main problem is that too many people have forgotten the purpose of a cow – they are starting to lack milk and go too hard muscled in some females.

In the Herefords, their lack of popularity, especially in Scotland, is one thing I’d like to change. As a breed, they are very much under-rated and they have better quality than people would give them credit for.

You’re most abiding memory?

I have loads. However, the one that really sticks in my mind is winning the Kings Cup at Smithfield with 'Read all about it' – a home-bred Galloway steer. There was a small crowd of supporters sitting in the corner of the ring that day that went through seven bottles of vodka before lunch time as well ... you wanted to hear the cheer when I was tapped out!

Biggest disappointment in your career?

There have been a few over the years but nothing is more disappointing than losing a calf at calving time ... that still gets to me.

Most influential person in your career?

My father, my brothers – John and Jim – and outwith the family, Jim Donald.

What’s been your favourite sale to attend over the years and why?

Oh definitely Perth at the old market. The bar at the old market was something else! UA definitely missed a trick by not building a bar like it at Stirling.

Your choice of best breeder ever?

One would be Alasdair Houston as he was incredible with every breed he was involved in, whether that be Simmentals, Charolais and the Angus. Just a true gentleman and breeder all round.

Another would be Major Walter – he is still at the top of the tree after all these years.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Ask as many questions as possible and watch how the winning stockman do it.

Biggest achievement?

Helping my wife, Maggie, produce three children – Jamie, Sophie and Beth…even if they get their stubbornness from me.

Following in the distance in the last couple of years, I would say being chairman of the Scottish Hereford Club and being elected on the main Hereford council are also great achievements of mine.

Anything you would go back and change in your career?

I think I've been very lucky in life and there isn’t much I would change. I've not got loads of trophies but through life experiences and changes in my career path, I've done everything in life I have wanted and worked with some of the best stockman, herds and cattle in the country over the years.

Any hobbies or interests out with farming?

I have a love for rugby. Jamie and myself have season tickets at Murrayfield and I like to follow the Glasgow Warriors … but it's mainly another excuse to get a few beers.

What’s the future of the breed in your opinion?

I think the future for both Herefords and Limousin is bright. There is still a market for both in the food chain and the young stockmen and woman that are coming through are professional and they'll make it happen!