Scotland’s top showing duo, Blair Duffton and Rebecca Stuart, did the double at the Aberdeen Christmas Classic show and sale, winning both the champion and the reserve overall amongst the cattle.

Although previous champion winners at this two-day event at Thainstone Agricultural Centre, this was in fact the first time the pairing from Huntly and Insch, had produced the top two, with both being Limousin crosses.

“It was a tremendous show of cattle and all classes were of an extremely high standard,” said Jamie Chapman, of James Champion Butchers, Wishaw, who selected many of the top winners alongside Frank Yorke of Yorkes of Dundee butchers, Dundee.

“I was looking for cattle with good conformation and flesh and the champion and reserve were tremendous and difficult to split with both having an even flesh cover,” he said.

However, while both judges were extremely complementary about the cattle on display, they admitted that finding good quality prime animals is becoming more difficult when the processors are demanding lighter cattle.

“People are trying to finish their cattle at a younger age and at lighter weights to meet the specs demanded by the abattoirs, and as a result, many of the cattle now coming forward don’t have the fat cover or the proper finish,” said Mr Yorke.

He added that the champion, a heifer was “a nice shapey, tidy, economical beast. It later went on to sell for the top price of £5000 or £7.81 per kg to Scott Watson, buying on behalf of Anthony Kitson of Kitson and Sons butchers based at Hutton Rudby, Yarm, Yorkshire.

Show stopper for Blair and Rebecca was Cinnamon, a 640kg May 2018-born red Limousin cross heifer bought here as a weaned calf last October, for £4000 after standing pre-sale champion. First in her class at the Highland, she was bred by Gordon Cameron, Acharacle, and is by Mariascote Lothario and bred from a Limousin cross cow.

She later went on to sell for the top price of £5000 or £7.81 per kg to Scott Watson, buying on behalf of Anthony Kitson of Kitson and Sons butchers based at Hutton Rudby, Yarm, Yorkshire.

Standing next in line, the reserve champion was the duo’s bullock champion – Gazza, a 666kg black Limousin cross, shown by William Moir while Blair was showing cattle at the Welsh Winter Fair, while also judging primestock events in the north and south of Ireland – see Evergreens on p8.

A big winner at several of the summer shows, this March 2018-born entry was bred by Gary Bell, Haaside and was bought at Kirkby Stephen for £1600 after standing pre-sale champion. He is by Pabo Mr Muscles and bred from one of Blair's former show heifers called Win Dot Com. First in his class at Turriff and Echt Shows, he later sold for £3000 or £4.50 per kg to the bullock judge, Frank Yorke.

Second top price was £3500 paid for the Young Farmers champion, Merida, a 22-month-old Limousin cross heifer from first time exhibitor, Thomas Hall (18), new stockman for Harry Brown at Auchmaliddie Mains, Maud, Peterhead. She was purchased by Gary Forbes of Raeburn Butchers, Huntly.

The calf which was bought in the spring from Orkney breeders, Messrs Sinclair, Haquoy, was placed champion by the YFC judge, young Anna Forsyth of Forsyth Butchers, Peebles, who described her as “a great heifer and an evenly fleshed fine boned heifer with little waste.”

Boss Harry who finishes 250 head of cattle every year most of which are bred from his 250-suckler cow herd, also had a good day winning the champion and reserve honours amongst the unhaltered cattle and the runner-up trophy amongst the haltered bullocks – all with Limousin crosses.

Reserve haltered bullock was Fergus, a 22-month-old bred by Liam Muir, Orkney, which stood reserve black and blue champion at Orkney and first at Dounby. Bought privately in September, he is by Goldies IPad, out of a Limousin cross heifer, and made £2409 or £3.30 per kg to Kitson and Sons.

The two Auchmaliddie Mains unhaltered winners are both by Culsh Invincible, a bull bought privately from Willie Brown, which is a son of the French sire, Tango, and out of Limousin cross cows. The champion and reserve scaled 576kg and 598kg and realised £2127.50 or £3.70 per kg, to S Mackie Butchers, High Street, Aberlour, and £2018.25 or £3.45, respectively, to WTS Forsyth Butchers, Peebles.

Wilson Peters, farm manger at Monzie, Crieff, also had a good day, taking the champion and reserve honours amongst the butchers cattle with home-bred calves, both of which had stood second in their class at LiveScot.

Supreme was She Za Diamond, a September 2018-born heifer and regular red ticket holder at several of the summer shows. She also boasts some different breeding being a daughter of the British Blue, Diamond Blue Isambard, a bull bought at the Classlochie sale, out of a home-bred Angus cross cow. The buyer at £3100 was Alasdair Bruce, Fraserburgh.

The runner up, The Wee Housewife, a 570kg, 17-month-old three-quarter Limousin heifer by Anside Hawkeye, made £2500 to David Comrie, Comrie Butchers, Perthshire.

Another from Monzie, London Lady, a Limousin cross heifer bred by John and Craig Robertson, that stood fourth in her class, made £2080, or 320p per kg selling to Kitson and Sons. This 652kg entry is by Whinfellpark Lago.

The North of England-based butchers Kitson and Sons, bought six cattle at the sale to include the reserve haltered YFC entry at £2400 or 377p, a 636kg red June 2018-born Limousin cross heifer from brothers William and David Moir, Home Farm, Cairness, Fraserburgh. She was bought here in March from Lloyd Fowlie for £1150.

The Aberdeen Angus champion, Dark Secret, a 558kg May 2018-born heifer from the Hunters at West Cairnhill, Culsalmond, Insch, made £2053 or 370p per kg to Forsyth Butchers, Peebles. She boasts some interesting genetics being a daughter of the AI Angus sire Nightingale Ploughman, out of a British Blue dam.

Just behind, The Orcadian, a May 2018-born Limousin cross bullock from Ian Miller of Miller Farms, Lurg, Midmar, made £1943 or 290p per kg selling to Jamie Chapman, Paisley. Bred on Orkney by Balfour Baillie, he is by Craigatoke Jamieson and out of a Limousin cross cow.

Ally Fraser's Miss Dynamite from Easter Clune, Lethen, Nairn, a Limousin cross heifer bred by Brian Harper, made 300p per kg or £1935 to Scotbeef, Bridge of Allan. She stood second in the YFC haltered section and scaled 648kg.

Smallburn Farms, Plewlands, Elgin, bought the first lot in the catalogue for breeding, at £1953.20 or 380p per kg from leading North-west showman, Donald Morrison, Cairn Nulla, Burnside, Kinlochbervie. Another bred on Orkney, by Balfour Baillie, this cracking April 2018-born black Limousin cross heifer is by Ronick Laddie, and was paraded by Ronnie Mackay.

Averages: 27 heifers, £1698.52 or £2.90 per kg (-£309.16 or -0.37p for four more sold); 13 steers, £1644.89 or £2.55 per kg (-£111.36 or -0.19p for three fewer).

LEADING awards

Haltered cattle – Heifers – Senior – 1, FHM West Cairn Hill, Culsalmond (Dark Secret 558kg AA X by Nightingale Ploughman); 2, H Brown, Auchmaliddie Mains, Maud (Divina 578kg Lim X by Culsh Invincible); 3, WA Peters, Cuilt Farmhouse, Monzie, Tickle Ma Tooshie 572kg Lim X by Powerhouse Harlequin. Junior – 1, heifer champion and supreme champion, B Duffton and Rebecca Stuart, Bogie Street, Huntly (Cinnamon 640kg Lim X by Mariascote Lethario); 2 and reserve heifer, W Robertson and Son, Fodderletter Farms, Tomintoul (Prosecco, 624kg Lim X by Lodge Hamlet); 3, D Work and Son, Mains of Dumbreck, Udny (642kg Lim X).

Bullocks – Senior – 1 and reserve bullock, H Brown, Auchmaliddie Mains, Maud (Fergus 654kg Lim X by Goldies IPad); 2, Paton and Hunter, West Cairnhill, Culsalmond, Insch (Blackbear 522kg Lim X by Whiskey Infinity); 3, JG Reid, Tullochleys, Clatt, Huntly (Bonzo 588kg A-A X by Strathinvar Bugsy Malone. Junior – 1, bullock champion and reserve overall, B Duffton and Rebecca Stuart (Gazza 666kg Lim X by Pabalo Mr Muscles); 2, I Miller, Miller Farms, North Lurg, Midmar (The Orcadian 670kg Lim X by Craigatoke Jamieson); 3, Sarah Balfour, Easter Fodderletter, Tomintoul (Ad Blue 704kg BB X by Auchenlay Knight).

Butchers – Heifers – 1 and champion, WA Peters, Cuilt Farmhouse, Monzie, Crieff (She Za Diamond 592kg BB X by Diamond Blue Isambard); 2 and reserve, WA Peters, Cuilt Farmhouse (The Wee Housewife 570kg Lim X by Anside Hawkeye); 3, WJ and M Hunter, Wester Cairnhill, Culsalmond (Dance Monkey 522kg Lim X by Ringway Jet). Bullocks ¬– 1, D Work and Sons, Mains of Dumbreck, Udny (598kg Lim X).

Unhaltered – Heifers – Senior – 1 and champion haltered, H Brown, Auchmaliddie Mains, Maud (576kg Lim X by Culsh Invincible); 2, WA Fettes, Braes of Enzie, Buckie (562kg Lim X); 3, WA Fettes, Braes of Enzie (518kg BB X). Junior – 1 and reserve, H Brown, Auchmaliddie Mains (588kg Lim X by Culsh Invincible); 2, HG Finnie, Wellside Balthangie, Cuminestown (Juliet 584kg Lim X); 2, Sheep Park Farms, Bridge of Marnoch, Huntly (Simona 630kg Lim X).

Bullocks – 1, Sheep Park Farms, Bridge of Marnoch (Roger 628kg Lim X); 2, Sheep Park Farms (Rafa 626kg Lim X); 3, HG Finnie, Wellside (Romeo 688kg Lim X).

YFC – Haltered - Heifers – Senior – 1, champion heifer and supreme, T Hall, Auchmaliddie Mains, Maud (Merida 620kg Lim X); 2, D Munro, Invercharron, Ardgay (620kg Lim X by Bailea Cavalier); 3, Cally Harper, Westholme, Deveron Road, Turriff (Silver Chimes 604kg Char X). Junior – 1 and reserve heifer, D Moir, Home Farm, Cairness, Fraserburgh (636kg Lim X); 2, A Fraser, Easter Clune, Lethen, Nairn (Miss Dynamite 648kg Lim X); 3, A Fraser, Easter Clune (580kg Lim X).

Bullocks – Senior – 1 and reserve, C Hunter, West Cairnhill, Culsalmond (Boris 648kg Char X). Junior – 1 and champion, J MacIver, West Coltfield, Kinloss, Moray (574kg Char X by Balmyle Logic).

Unhaltered – Heifers – 1 and champion, Cally Harper, Westholme, Turriff (588kg Lim X); 2 and reserve, T Hall, Auchmaliddie Mains, Maud (578kg Lim X); 3, Jenna Ross, Wardhead, Strichen (712kg Char X). Bullocks – 1, Jenna Ross, Wardhead (652kg BB X); 2, S Ross, Wardhead, Strichen (732kg BB X).