Andrew Wilson is the next stockman to share his lifetime achievements with readers. Originally from East Kilbride before moving to Fife, he certainly knows the ins and outs of showing a Holstein Friesian cow.


I was brought up on the family dairy farm, Northshields, near East Kilbride, where we milked 70-80 cows in byres. It was a very much family affair, with my parents, Jim and Isobel, brother, James, all working together.

We predominantly ran Ayrshire cows until 1970, before making the switch to the Holstein Friesian.

In 1995, we moved to Fife, to Carskerdo, which was run as a beef farm at that time. We turned it into a dairy and we're now running 370 Holstein Friesians, with six red and whites and 12 Jerseys.

The Scottish Farmer: Andrew Wilson punching the air in celebration following being tapped out as overall champion of champions Ref:EC010619809Andrew Wilson punching the air in celebration following being tapped out as overall champion of champions Ref:EC010619809

The Jerseys were added to the herd in 1999 as a bit of a hobby. I was over in America and took a real liking to them, so I bought two. They have done us wonders in the show circuit, winning breed champion in 2004 and 2008 at the Royal Highland Show, and inter-breed champion in 2006 and 2007 with the same cow, Wellhead Rocket Boo.

The red and whites were always a favourite of James' and have also done well at local shows. We secured the inter-breed title at Fife and Neilson shows in 2014, with the same cow, Middle Sublime Mitsy.

It is still very much a family run business, with dad still undertaking the morning milkings. My wife, Pat, feeds the calves and son, Andrew, is now also in the running along with James’ sons, Logan, and Lewis. In 2002, we managed to secure the neighbouring farm, Cassindilly, to run alongside Carskerdo.

Where did your career begin?

At just seven, I was showing at Chapelton Show – the family would go to 10 or 12 local shows every year as it was an important part of our job.

What is it you look for in an animal?

I like a cow with a good udder, but feet and legs are also important. I don’t like an extreme cow – she has got to be well balanced with a good depth of rib. The fore udder attachment has got to be correct and we are now looking for that ideal cubicle cow.

Why Holstein Friesians?

I love the Holstein Friesian-type cow. She has increased our yields, as we get more milk out of them, so what's not to love. Another benefit is, once you are finished with them, they are worth a wee bit more than other dairy breeds in the marketplace.

Has the breed changed for the better?

Yes, the Holstein Friesian has a lot more strength about her now. Years ago, breeders were always looking for a big, tall, frail cow which was no use in the commercial dairy herd. We want to see a lot of life out of them, with a bit of strength so they can live in cubicles.

If you had to choose another breed, which would it be?

Definitely Ayrshires. They are hardy cows. I have always liked them and my grandfather used to have a few so I have worked with them in the past.

Best Highland Show?

Securing the Royal Highland Show dairy inter-breed title with the same Jersey in 2007 and 2008, along with being reserve Holstein in 2019.

Biggest showing achievement?

A day I will always remember was winning AgriScot in 2010 with Weeton Lheros A Balise Ex95 and the Dairy Expo in 2012 with the same cow. She is still living and has bred especially well for us.

Sale time?

We sell some of our females privately – 30 annually – due to having built up that demand at home. We are hoping to increase our numbers to 70 leaving the farm every year.

My best sale to date would be at Carlisle in 2013 when we sold the home-bred bull, Northshields Jackson, for 7000gns - he was a Weeton Lheros A Balise son.

Which is the best animal you've ever shown?

Without a doubt Weeton Lheros A Balise.

Witherslack Mincio Joanne Ex94 is another great cow in the herd. She was reserve champion at the Royal Highland in 2019 and inter-breed champion at Central and West Fife Show the same year.

What's the best animal you've ever seen?

In 1995, I visited Canada and was honoured to be able to witness Stookey Elm Park Black Rose – she was some cow and will always stick in my mind. She had the perfectly balanced frame and her udder was out of this world – fore udder attachment, teat placements and veins were all just where they should be. She was the perfect model cow. Also in the running would be Rainyridge Tony Beauty Ex98 3Ex.

The best cow I have seen in the UK would be Hinton Barron Lynn. She was five times a first prize winner at the Royal Show, shown by David Haston snr. She wasn’t an extreme cow; she had just the right balance, with a good top line, fore udder attachment, and great feet and legs. She was an excellent example of a Holstein Friesian.

The Scottish Farmer: Weeton Lheros A Balise is the best animal Andrew has ever shown Weeton Lheros A Balise is the best animal Andrew has ever shown

Abiding memory?

Chapelton Show 1979. We won the Ayrshire and Holstein champion along with the reserve commercial beef animal – it was some day!

Winning AgriScot in 2010 will always be up there as well ... I still can’t quite believe that one.

Biggest disappointment?

Missing out on buying a farm in Annan in 1995.

Have you missed out on a big purchase you wanted?

I was offered a cow privately in 2015, however I had to decline. It wasn’t easy watching her win all the shows the following year!

Most influential person?

My grandfather, Andrew; father Jim; uncle, the late John Meikle; and Tom Neilson, at the Park, have all helped me through my showing career one way or another. The four of them have brought me to where I am now, from picking cattle, bringing out and clipping cattle.

Best stockman?

Mark Nutsford, Riverdane and Aubrey Greenhalgh, Enchanted Holsteins. Both are great ambassadors of the breed, especially in the show circuit. They would do anything to help a fellow breeder and certainly know their cattle!

Where are the best kist parties?

At the Highland Show with my brother and sister-in-law, Alistair, and Doreen Cormack. The patter is unbelievable, especially from Gavin Scott.

Favourite quote?

What goes around, comes around!

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

Bring back the milk marketing boards – they should never have been done away with. Dairy farmers now have nothing to fall back on. We no longer have anyone to look out for us and demand a fair price for our product.

Milk prices need to go up to 37-40p a litre. Costs are all rising so the price needs to go with it, or there won’t be many dairy farmers left.

Problems in the industry?

Milk price.

Best advice for someone starting off?

Don’t think you are going to go into farming to make a fortune. It is hard work 365 days of the year. You need to be dedicated and passionate about the industry to make it work. I do it because I love my cows, not for the money.

Best investment?

Weeton Lheros A Balise.

Judging experiences?

I have been around the local shows across Scotland and England to judge, which has been a real honour.

In June, I was lucky enough to judge the Lancashire Holstein Friesian Club herds competition, where there were 16 herds competing. It was a great way to see around the country.

I have also undertaken many judging jobs in relation to cattle dressing and stock judging.

The Scottish Farmer: Witherslack Mincio Joanne is a close follower to thatWitherslack Mincio Joanne is a close follower to that

Something you thought you would never achieve but have?

Winning the Scottish herds competition in 2018. I had previously been placed second and third and never thought I could take the top award.

Do you wish you had done anything different in your career so far?

When I was younger, I wish I had worked in Canada for six months to gain more experience.

The future of the show circuit?

I would like to see shows going back to how they were in 2019 or even stronger!

Shows are a great asset to the farming calendar and something we cannot miss out on.

I am a great supporter of local shows. You can go away in the morning, have a bit of banter and be back home in the afternoon, so you are not away for a long period of time.

Could you imagine your life without showing?

No! We have had a brief time without shows due to the pandemic and I have missed them greatly. I can’t wait to get back to them. The buzz from them has left a bit of a hole in my life.