Born in Forfar, in 1951, Bob McWalter is one of the most recognised and well-respected individuals in the stockman world.

With his grandfather a keen Clydesdale enthusiast, Bob’s earliest and fondest memories are of showing horses at various local shows.

At age 11, Bob and his family moved to Downieken, owned by RS Watson, where he found his interest in cattle working with Aberdeen-Angus. Encouraged by the farm’s stockman at the time, Alec MacGregor, Bob learnt the 'ropes' of walking and grooming calves.

That led him to showing his first calf at the local Angus Show, held in Victoria Park, in Arbroath, at 13. From that point, Bob found his passion and began travelling to more shows and sales.

A fond memory was being allowed to stay at the Perth Bull Sales as a youngster and getting told off by Bob Watson to dress properly for the occasion. He later bought Bob an Aberdeen-Angus tie and he still has it to this day.

At 15, Bob left school and worked on various farms, showing both horses and livestock for a few years before moving to begin working as an agricultural sales rep. Alongside this, Bob continued to show horses in his spare time for Mrs Brewster, Lanark House, in Forfar.

He later married his wife, Gwen, in 1975, before welcoming his two children, Fiona and Ashley, in 1976 and 1978.

Bob and his family moved to Fort William, in 1982, where he worked as an agricultural rep again, this time for a company covering the West Coast and islands of Scotland. Not wanting to let go of his passion for showing, Bob continued to attend and show livestock for various people at local shows, the Royal Highland and the Winter Fair.

Bob’s career path led him next to the Cnoc fold, in Appin, working under Mr and Mrs Montgomery, where he was involved in television shows and films alongside the cattle. With his name now recognised widely within the stockman circuit, Bob was approached by David MacLeod, in 1989, who requested Bob’s help to establish a Shorthorn herd.

Not wanting to pass on a fantastic opportunity, Bob accepted and remained with David for 25 years, establishing the Glengloy herd of 30-strong Shorthorns at its peak. When the herd was dispersed in 2015, Bob decided to retire, however, continued to show Shorthorn’s and Highlander’s for Sir Michael and Lady Sally Nairn, at Balnabroich Farms, Blairgowrie, and also, on occasion, for Audrey MacDonald, of Portnadoran Shorthorns, Arisaig.

What qualities do you like about the breeds that you work with over others?

Shorthorns are my favourite and I like everything about them. They are thrifty cattle and don’t take a lot of pushing to get them to their best – a good all-round animal. The fact that they have bounced back from almost being a rare breed to being a major player in the livestock industry is a real credit to the breeders.

I also love the hardiness and grazing ability of the Highlander and their crossing abilities with a Shorthorn to produce a good suckler cow.

Best animal ever shown?

It would have to be Glengloy Lovely Puchaig. She was the Glengloy show cow and at her first Highland she was placed first in her class as a two-year-old. She also featured in the Shorthorn team competition, which was the first time that the breed won the title in 12 years at the Highland. Also featured in the native inter-breed team at the RHS as older cow.

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

There’s been a few animals that have caught my eye, but the best would have to be Kilkenny Celia, a Charolais cow shown by Jimmy McMillan. She was correct from every angle and had such a unique style about her – you just couldn’t go past without looking at her. She had won all four of the Royal shows, which just clarified how good an animal she was.

Abiding memory?

I’ve got two that stick out in my mind. The first would be when we sold Balnabroich Kermit for 15,000gns at the Stirling Bull Sales, that was a one for the memory bank!

The other would be when Glengloy Lovely Tapaidh when she stood female champion at the Perth Bull Sales, in 2004, as well as selling for the breed record price of 5500gns for a female Shorthorn at that time.

Biggest disappointment?

The one that stands out was the dispersal of the Glengloy Shorthorn herd. It was quite a hard day seeing the herd that we had built up for over 25 years being sold. But, all the cattle went to other pedigree herds and it was nice to see that they were going to be an asset to whoever bought them – there are Glengloy genetics in various herds to this day.

However, I can’t thank the late David MacLeod enough for backing me all these years. He stood back and allowed me to take control of the opportunity that he gave me, with both support and encouragement. He was one of life’s greatest gentlemen and one I will always admire dearly.

Most influential person in your career?

Without a doubt it would be my wife, Gwen, and my daughters. Gwen looked after business, the family and the house, which allowed me to follow my passion.

Without her wouldn’t be where I am today. However, I do always get the last word!

Best stockman?

Two people come immediately to mind. My long-standing friend, Rich Thomson and my late friend, Dave Smith.

Both are top men and their approach and dedication to the job is just outstanding. They have a way with livestock and know their job like the back of their hands, as well as both being characters!

Best and worst advice?

The best advice would be do your homework. There’s more to showing than a white coat.

The worst advice would be from Dave Smith when he told me that I would feel better if I took a brandy and port together. He was wrong and it certainly didn’t work for me!

Biggest showing achievement?

Personally, it would be when I led out a bull called Uppermill Recto. He was the Glengloy stock bull and stood senior champion at the Royal Highland, as well as a number of local championships. He was bought as a calf and had sired a lot of good cattle in his time.

Future of the show circuit?

I believe that the future is bright. There is a lot of talent in youngsters these days which is great to see.

My only concern I have is, will it be a sustainable livestock industry for them to flourish in? But I sincerely hope that they get the same enjoyment out of showing as I did.

Changes over the years?

There have been a few changes. However, one that is becoming more evident is the lack of support for local shows. Showing is an expensive game and there is not the manpower on farms that there once was. The sad reality is that people can’t afford to be away from the farm to attend all the local shows.

Everyone now concentrates on the big shows like the Highland Show, as that’s seen to be more worthwhile to attend, so to speak. However, you need the small shows as that is where you learn the tricks of the trade and where it all starts. When I was younger, the class sizes and entry numbers at local shows were a lot higher than they are now.

Other change is that there are a lot more ladies involved with showing nowadays. I believe it is a good as it breaks the stigma of farming being a male dominated industry – however, some spend more time preparing themselves than the beast!

Favourite drink?

I am known to take a fancy to a pint of lager ... just now and again!

Best kist party you have attended?

Well it is fair to say that I have never been to a bad kist party. But the Smithfield ones were always good and the biggest!


Working with cattle was my hobby and interest. There is not a lot of people who can say that they love their job, but I certainly can. I’ve been very lucky and have had a fantastic and fun-filled career.