Despite Storm Arwen’s vicious attack on the North-east, the Aberdeen Christmas Classic at Thainstone Mart, proved highly successful, attracting another top quality parade of prime cattle and sheep and huge praise from the judges.

The two-day event, which in 2020 was held behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions, this year faced more challenges when Aberdeenshire was the area hit worst by the storm, which saw many of its exhibitors and spectators still without power by the Tuesday evening.

Some even had to rely on the ANM mart and market staff for much needed power and water to prepare their stock and a good hot meal, which in turn ensured a great community supported event with an even better show of stock.

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“The quality of cattle was just as good as it always is, if not better,” said the prime cattle judge, Louise Forsyth, of WTS Forsyths Butchers, Peebles, who alongside Jamie Scott, of John Scott Meat, Paisley, placed the winners.

“I’ve seen a few cattle being on the heavy side, but this year, most were of a desirable weight and they had better cover on them which is what you need. We can take cattle at a slightly heavier weight at this time of year, but ideally I would always look to buy animals at 600kg and under,” she said.

It was a point echoed by Mr Scott: “We would always look for 3 and 4L 350kg carcases with plenty of cover over the sirloin and in that respect I would have to say, it has been a better quality line-up of cattle all through. It has been a tremendous show of cattle – as always – and an absolute joy to judge.”

They were unanimous in their choice of winners, but admitted it was a close decision between the champion and reserve – Limousin cross heifers from Andrew Anderson, Smallburn Farms, Duffus, and Harry Brown and family, Auchmaliddie Mains, Maud, respectively.

It was a dream come true for Andrew Anderson, who was returning to the show ring after a near 20-year absence, when he took the supreme with a home-bred animal. Adding to the fairytale, was the fact that his heifer, She’s a Belter, later sold for the top price of £6200, to The Station Hotel, Rothes, Aberlour, who have just bought Smallburn Farms in a bid to produce their own beef and lamb for the hotel.

This was a 20-month-old black heifer that stood first at the Agri Expo at Carlisle. Uniquely she is one of eight embryos produced from a flush from a pedigree British Blue heifer bought at Carlisle, and sired by the AI Limousin bull, Elite Lacette. More impressive, however, is the fact that seven other ET calves produced from the same flush made their mark on the show circuit for various top showmen and women.

Having sold Smallburn Farms, which was a 40-minute drive away from the main farming business at Elgin, Mr Anderson now aims to concentrate on producing show calves from his 300-cow commercial unit.

Following the champion all the way to the reserve was the runner-up heifer, Harry Brown’s Robyn, a 22-month-old, 594kg entry bred on Orkney by Ian Sclater, Upper Breckan. She was bought jointly by the judges for £3200, or £5.39p per kg.

The Browns – Harry and Helen and their young family of Abbie (11) and Murray (9) who run 200 suckler cows and finish in excess of 250 per year – also had a cracking day taking several other awards. This included their first butchers’ championship with Starbust, a 595kg Limousin cross heifer bred by Tom Delday, Orkney. Alastair Bruce Butchers, Fraserburgh, was the final bidder at £3400, or £5.71 per kg.

Their young stockman, Thomas Hall (20), was well in the tickets too, securing the reserve Young Farmers’ haltered and unhaltered titles the previous evening with Limousin crosses that sold for £3000 and £2515, respectively.

The 635kg haltered reserve, which stood second in her class to the champion, was bred by Helen Brown, Greenacres, and bought privately, sold to Ian McIntosh and Son, Gavin, who are celebrating 40 years as butchers of IJ McIntosh, Fraserburgh.

Michael Robertson and sons, Scott and Mark, Fodderletter Farms, Ballindalloch, secured several awards, including the top bullock with Copland Road, a 685kg Limousin cross bred by Douglas Macdonald, Tyree, Oban. It later sold for 325p per kg to North Yorkshire meat wholesaler, Anthony Kitson.

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Mark Robertson was in the tickets too, bagging the Young Farmers’ title for a third time, on this occasion with Penny Arcade, a 20-month-old Limousin cross heifer by Maraiscote Lothario, scaling 630kg. Bred by Gordon Cameron, Acharacle, she was first prize YF heifer at Agri Expo and sold for £3500 to Anthony Kitson.

James Hendry’s unhaltered YFC champion, Tail West, from Heads of Auchinderran, Keith, sold for £2806, or 460p per kg, to Alastair Bruce, Butchers, Fraserburgh. Another Limousin cross this time bred by A MacInnes, Ruaig, on Tiree, she is by Claragh Istabraque

Champion unhaltered was a British Blue heifer from WA Fettes, Brae of Enzie, Buckie, which scaled 670kg and sold for £2680.

LEADING awards:

Haltered cattle – Single heifer – Lightweight – 1, reserve heifer and reserve overall, H Brown’s Robyn (Lim X bred by I Sclater, 594kg, 350p per kg to WTS Forsyth, Peebles and John Scott Meats); 2, H Brown’s Smarty (home-bred Lim X, 560kg, £3200, to Aberdeen and Northern Marts); 3, R Mackenzie and Sons (Char X, 595kg, 285p to DR and A Hendry Mains of Wardhouse). Heavyweight – 1, heifer champion and supreme overall, Smallburn Farms’ She’s A Belter (Lim X 625kg, £6200 to The Station Hotel, Rothes); 2, Hendry, Davidson and Leslie’s Black Magic (Lim X bred by Smallburn Farms, 630kg, unsold); 3, WA Peters’ Jeez Loueez (Lim X bred by JS Baillie and Co, 620kg, 400p to D Comrie Butchers).

Single bullock – Lightweight – 1 and bullock champion, W Robertson and Son’s Copland Road (Lim X bred by D MacDonald, 685kg, 325p, to BT Kitson Butchers); 2, H Brown’s Arwen (home-bred Lim X, 630kg, 280p, to BT Kitson Butchers); 3, C Sinclair’s Bear (Lim X bred by G Cameron, 650kg, 255p, to W and J Cameron).

Native bullock – 1 and native champion, Sheep Park Farms’ Tarzan (home-bred A-A X, 560kg335p, to John Scott Meats); 2 and reserve native, D Work and Sons (home-bred A-A X, 620kg, 305p to John Scott Meats).

Butchers cattle – Haltered – Heifer – 1 and champion butchers’, H Brown’s Starburst (Lim X bred by T Delday, 595kg, £3400 to Bruce of the Broch Butchers); 2 and reserve butchers’ B Duffton’s Wee Nippy (Lim X bred by J Robertson and Co, 595kg, £3000 to BT Kitson Butchers); 3, H Brown’s Black Out (home-bred Lim X, 600kg, 320p to BT Kitson Butchers).

Bullock – 1, C Sinclair’s Caesar (BB X bred by R Miller, 600kg, 295p to Bruce of the Broch Butchers); 2, R Mackenzie and Sons (home-bred Lim X, 594kg, 265p, to W and J Cameron).

Unhaltered – Light heifer – 1 and reserve unhaltered, H Brown (home-bred Lim X, 594kg, 325p to S and K Mackie Butchers); 2, Sheep Park Farms’ Jane (Lim X bred by L and A Pickard, 554kg, 305p to East Comalegy); 3, S Smith (home-bred Lim X heifer, 578kg, 315p, to Bruce of the Broch Butchers). Heavy heifer – 1 and champion haltered, WA Fettes (BB X bred by GAM Munro, 670kg, 400p to JS Baillie, Orkney); 2, Ross Bros (home-bred Char X, 700kg, 255p to Scotbeef); 3, H Brown (home-bred Lim X, 664kg, 275p, to Scotbeef.

Bullocks – Light – 1, WA Fettes (Lim X bred by R and AN Henderson, 518kg, 340p to BT Kitson Butchers); 2, S Smith (home-bred Lim X, 620kg, 265p, to JM Munro Butchers); 3, Glass and Smith’s Bill (home-bred Lim X, 620kg, 260p to JM Munro Butchers). Heavy – 1, N Barclay (home-bred Char X, 650kg, 250p to W and J Cameron); 2, C Sinclair’s On The Spot (Lim X bred by J Robertson and Co, 680kg, 245p, to W and J Cameron).

Young Farmers – Haltered – Heifer – 1 and champion, M Robertson’s Penny Arcade (Lim X bred by G Cameron, 630kg, £3500, to IJ McIntosh Butchers); 2 and reserve haltered, T Hall (Lim X bred by Helen Brown, 635kg, £3000 to IJ McIntosh Butchers); 3, J Hendry’s Roandezvous (Lim X bred by Miss U MacDonald, 628kg, unsold). Bullock – 1, Cally Harper’s Gordon (Lim X bred by G Cameron, 570kg, 315p to John Scott Meats); 2, J Hendry’s Meat and Diesel (Lim X bred by G Cameron, 598kg, 300p per kg to BT Kitson Butchers).

Unhaltered – Heavy heifer – 1, Jenna Ross (home-bred Char X, 640kg, 295p to BT Kitson Butchers); 2, R Anderson (home-bred Lim X, 610kg, 290p to D Comrie Butchers); 3, Jenna Ross (home-bred BB X, 620kg, 285p, to Bruce of the Broch Butchers). Light heifer – 1 and champion unhaltered, J Hendry’s Tail West (Lim X bred by A MacInnes, 610kg, 460p, to Bruce of the Broch Butchers); 2 and reserve unhaltered, T Hall (Lim X bred by Messrs Spence, 646kg, 390p, to BT Kitson Butchers); 3, S Ross (home-bred Lim X, 590kg, 300p, to D Comrie Butchers). Bullocks – Heavy – 1, R Anderson (home-bred Lim X 610kg, 275p to John Scott Meats); 2, Jenna Ross (home-bred Blonde X, 610kg, 260p, to JM Munro Butchers). Light – 1 and best opposite sex unhaltered, T Hall (Lim X bred by H and K Brown, 654kg, 285p, to Scotbeef); 2, S Ross (home-bred BB X, 685kg, 260p to Scotbeef).