Situated just north of Turriff is a small holding making a big splash on the show circuit.

Steven Smith didn’t grow up with farming in the traditional way. His father was an agricultural mechanic and had his own garage. But when Steven got the opportunity to show cattle at the age of 11, he never looked back.

Now he owns Claymires Farm, a small holding purchased when he was 22 years of age, where he lives with wife Ashley and three children Lily (10), Steven jr (6), and Jack (2).

The Scottish Farmer: Steven currently manages 25 Limousin cross cowsSteven currently manages 25 Limousin cross cows

“We only have 25 cows so it is more of a hobby but it means I can really focus on showing and selling commercially,” said Steven.

“About 70% of my income comes from contracting and right now Monday to Friday I’m lifting carrots so I do most of my work with my own cattle at the weekends. When I’m not lifting carrots I am working with other folks’ cattle, and I do a fair bit of clipping in the summer.”

The Scottish Farmer: Claymires is a small holding just north of Turriff in AberdeenshireClaymires is a small holding just north of Turriff in Aberdeenshire

Steven runs commercial ewes alongside his cattle over the 175 acres at Claymires. He also grows turnips for Stewarts of Tayside, and potatoes and carrots for Blackhills Farming Partnership. When he isn’t contracting or working at Claymires, he can be found 10 miles along the road at his father’s farm where he runs 1000 cattle a year on a bed and breakfast contract.

However the biggest part of the Smith’s year is dedicated to showing.

“We do about 20 to 30 shows a year all over the country and we win a fair few prizes. Just at the start of April we won championship at Thainstone show and sale with a red Limousin cross bullock.

The Scottish Farmer: One of Steven's Huntershall Rosco sired heifersOne of Steven's Huntershall Rosco sired heifers

“My daughter Lily also likes to compete in young handlers competitions and has been quite successful with it. Most recently she was champion at Stars of the Future in November and at Grantown Show in 2022. She has also been champion at Turriff two years in a row so the pressure is on for this year.”

Claymires has also won the Scottish Limousin Club’s small herd championship for the past two years in succession.

“The herd competition is a really good way to show off your stock no matter what sort of numbers you have.”

It isn’t just the live ring where Steven’s cattle make their mark. He has also triumphed at Scotland’s Premier Meat Exhibition with a home-bred Limousin cross heifer carcase.

“I mainly breed Limousins as I believe the breed gives me the best quality as they work well both commercial market and in the show ring.

The Scottish Farmer: Steven calves inside in the spring timeSteven calves inside in the spring time

“Limousins also have a good temperament and are quite good at looking after themselves. I can’t be on the farm all of the time so it’s good to keep a breed with those easy care traits. Furthermore, they make money.

“Anything we buy has to have a fair bit of back breeding or some sort of show history. I tend to look for animals with about three quarters Limousin to a quarter British Blue blood. It’s mostly about size and conformation, plus they need to be black.”

One of the most prominent bulls purchased has been the Limousin Lodge Hugo, bought privately eight years ago from Craig Robertson, Newton of Logierait.

“He is easily one of the best bulls we have ever used and he did a lot for us,” Steven said adding that he does a fair bit of AI work.

“I’ve still got semen from Greenhaugh Europa, an old black Limousin we used on some of the heifers and we’ve got semen in the tank from Glenrock Inferno and Huntershall Rosco both of which have done well for us for calving in spring.

The Scottish Farmer: Grantown show where Lily won the Beef young handler championship Ref:RH110822031 Rob Haining / The Scottish Farmer...Grantown show where Lily won the Beef young handler championship Ref:RH110822031 Rob Haining / The Scottish Farmer...

The best of the heifer calves, selected by eye, are retained as replacements with the remainder sold a year later at the spring sales.

“Over the last couple of years, our 12-month-old calves have averaged £1600 to £1700 at the spring sales, which is not bad going with the calves weighing between 450-470kg.

Cows are on grass through summer into October when they are housed and fed on silage until calving.

“We are self sufficient here. We grow all our own silage and don’t have to buy any feed. We are lucky that we aren’t in a place that gets particularly bad weather though the rain recently has put us about three weeks behind.” With the easycare nature of the cattle, Steven is able spend more time contracting and learn from other farms and businesses where he works.

“I genuinely learnt the whole farming experience from working with other farmers and I am still learning.”

With calving finishing the family’s next focus is the upcoming show season which kicks off with Ayr next month.

“I quite often show with Blair Duffton so the two of us are heading down to Ayr Show.”

The Scottish Farmer: Steven won champion carcase for his homebred Limousin cross heifer at Scotland's Premier Meat Exhibition in 2021Steven won champion carcase for his homebred Limousin cross heifer at Scotland's Premier Meat Exhibition in 2021

Steven also has a strong team entered for the Highland, with the ‘kids’ equally enthusiastic to help out with the hard work involved in exhibiting cattle.

“We have never pushed the kids into showing, they have always wanted to do it. When the enthusiasm is there you can’t ask for much more and Lily puts in the work. This season we will hopefully get young Steven in the show ring too and maybe winning prizes like his big sister.”

Steven is also hopeful for the future.

“Obviously the kids are very interested in farming so I am not worried about that but our place is so small that they would need to do something else alongside the farm. If we get the opportunity we could take over my dad’s place and make it a bigger unit but we will see how it goes.

“We had to borrow a fair bit of money to buy Claymires and we have been able to repay it steadily but with inflation and higher interest rates that is more difficult. I’d like to think we will be debt-free in the future and still be producing good quality cattle. Currently I do well contracting and the cattle pay for themselves so I can’t ask for much more.”

Farm facts

Farm size: 175 acres.

Livestock: 25 commercial Limousin cross cows.

Who’s involved: Steven and Ashley Smith with their three children Lily, Steven and Jack.

Contracting: Working with the tractor for vegetable growers, manual labour clipping, dosing and even feeding neighbouring farm's stock.

Recent show success: Small herd champion 2022 and 2023 at The Scottish Limousin club herd competition, homebred champion at Thainstone Anniversary January show and sale 2024, champion cow and calf at New Deer, Banchory, Keith and Tarland shows 2023.

On the spot

Biggest investment? A new tractor.

Favourite show? Turriff but Lily likes going down to the Welsh Winter Fair.

Something you can’t live without? My family, they make the job so much easier when I’ve had a hard day calving or contracting.

Where do you see yourselves in 10 years? Hopefully debt free