We’re going North this week for our Stockmen of our Time feature to meet well-respected beef cattle stockman, Andrew Reid, Ellon, Aberdeenshire.

After leaving school at 16 and helping his father, Sandy, who managed the Thomastown Dairy Farm, Andrew found his first job in pedigree beef cattle at the age of 22 with Russell and Nancy Taylor and family’s Moncur Pedigree Herds’ Charolais and Simmentals.

“They had belief in me at such a young age and I really would not be where I am today without their help and expertise,” said Andrew.

He gained experience there from 1988 to 1992, before moving on to look after the Charolais herd owned by Sandy and Jaclynn Innes, of Moyness.

In 2004, he moved to work with Charolais and Simmentals at Balmaud, which soon saw him take another venture to the Logie herd with Bill Bruce, of M Bruce and Partners’ Aberdeen-Angus and Charolais. However, the most recent and current position after three years, has seen him at AJR Farms, with David and Andrea Stubbs.

What is your favourite breed?

My favourite would be Charolais, then the Aberdeen-Angus and Simmentals – but each have their place.

What got you involved in showing?

My grandfather, Norman Anderson, managed the Douneside herd of British Friesians. He had us haltering calves and I used to go to the local shows with him and when we went to Tarland Show, I used to help walk the show cows down the road, instead of them having to be floated down.

What was your first Royal Highland experience?

My first Highland was 1977 and then I skived off school for a week in 1978 to go and help my uncle, Ian Anderson, with the Douneside Friesians.

However, it wasn’t until 1987 I ventured on my own with a yearling Charolais heifer, Thrunton Blossom. She came fifth in her class. That showed me what I had to do to improve and I went back the following year with her and came second.


The best animal you’ve ever shown?

Balmaud Eclipse, the Charolais champion and reserve overall champion at the Highland in 2014, champions of champions at both New Deer Show and the 150th Turriff Show. I was honoured to get to meet HRH The Queen when she presented me with the trophy at Turriff Show.

Eclipse was shown without a jewel, she knew she was good, she showed herself.

Her sire was the 26,000gns Maerdy Amontillado and I also brought out the sire of Eclipse’s dam, Moyness Singlemalt, so I had a large involvement in her breeding, which makes it more special when you’ve helped breed them.


The Scottish Farmer:

Balmaud Eclipse, the 2014 Royal Highland Show overall reserve champion 


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

Maerdy Impeccable which was bought privately for a record price then of 25,000gns. He had sheer presence and power, a very proud bull, you never got a bad look at him whether close up or in the distance and he always stood correct. He had it all – looks, what he bred and a super nature.

The first time he was shown, he was straight out of the AI Station at Scone to the Royal Show where he took reserve male champion in 1995. He was rested for a year, before returning to the show circuit in 1997, where he was male champion at the Highland and reserve male at the Royal. In his prime he was hitting 1690kg.

His offspring have been shown and sold successfully. At the Royal Show, three sons won all three young bull classes, which has never been done before and sold for an average of £17,250.

Changes over the years?

The art of feeding bulls has changed. It used to be feed four times a day (two dry mix and two mash mix). However, now the biggest percentage are ad-lib feeding.

There is more importance put on figures, so when looking for a stock bull there is not a lot of choice with different breeding because breeders are looking to have good figures.

In the 1980s and ‘90s, you could maybe of had half a dozen stock bulls to choose from. These days, you’re lucky to get a stock bull that you like. Everything is bigger and faster and there isn’t as much time to do the small jobs.

Among the show circuit, class numbers at all the shows are falling due to the expense, health schemes, time constraints and fewer people on farms.

Abiding memory?

Winning the Perth Bull Sales in October, 1992, with Moncur General, which then went on to sell for 20,000gns to Thrunton and Midlock.

Biggest disappointments?

It was really disappointing not being able to take our team to this year’s Highland Show as we have the best animal that I have ever had anything to do with, Maerdy Morwr. This £25,000 private purchase won the first virtual Highland Show online this year.

Most influential person?

My dad, Sandy Reid. He taught me to calve cows and all my livestock husbandry skills – and told me if you’re not going to do a job right, don’t bother at all.

That’s probably why I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I put such high standards on myself, always giving 110% and I expect the same work ethic from everyone else, that’ll dee just winna dee with me, it has to be done right.

Also, my wife Sarah. We’ve been married 19 years and she’s still putting up with me! I’m lucky to have her and our children, Rachel and Andrew, for their understanding and support at the times when cattle come first – I’ve lost count of the amount of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays I’ve missed!

The late, Bert Rugg, with his wealth of experience, advice and enthusiasm, taught me to believe in myself and to have my own view about breeding. He taught me how to sort cattle’s feet and make halters, but the main trick he told me was ‘there are no secrets, just hard work.’

Your favourite show?

It has to be the Royal Highland because it showcases some of the best stock in the country. The whole atmosphere and the people you meet is unbeatable. Sometimes it’s the only time you catch up with them from the previous show and it is the show everyone wants to win.

Best stockman?

I have a few. Friar Thomson, Bill Neish and his son, Ian, George Clark and Kenny Morgan.

They are my kind of stockmen, they did the whole job – feeding, clipping, doing their feet, making halters.

Where are the best kist parties?

Any kist party is a great party if the real characters are there with all their stories and not forgetting there needs to be good bottle of whisky!

I won’t mention his name, but he’s a great guy and friend. When he worked with me as a student, he wanted to know the recipe for making the Charolais soap so I sent him to Boots to get a special oil called clitoris oil but, of course, he couldn’t find it and asked the sales assistant to help him, he came back obviously empty-handed, red faced and not impressed at being pranked.

So, when I asked him a few years ago to go to Tesco and get me some extra virgin olive oil, he thought I was pranking him again, not realising it really existed.

Any interests out with farming?

It is my main everyday life, but I do enjoy collecting whisky and visiting Islay.

Best advice?

Don’t listen to people who criticise and tell you they have a better beast at home, that’s easy to say but the real gauge is taking it to the show seeing how good it is with the cream of the country.

If you could change one thing ...?

Setting better prices for our livestock and our products ... that we produce in all weathers.

Biggest showing achievement?

Winning four Highland Show championships along with three inter-breed reserve champions. Our three reserve inter-breeds were: Maerdy Impreccable (1999); Idvies Kollar (2013) and Balmaud Eclipse (2014), with our champion Simmental, Strathisla Nugget, lifting the trophy in 2008.

Strathisla Nugget also won the first National Simmental Show at Perth in 2008 and was overall cattle champion at Perth, Turriff, Black Isle and Keith Shows the same year.

In 2011, Logie Politician won bull calf champion at the Black Beauty Bonanza, and the year later won the yearling bull champion. In 2012, he also won the junior bull and reserve male champion at the Highland. He sold at the February Stirling Bull sales in 2013 for 8500gns to the Skaill herd, in Orkney.

In the sale ring at Stirling, just last year, Logie Defiance was Aberdeen-Angus reserve champion, before selling for 13,000gns. I have brought out two Perth champions (1992 and 1993) and two reserve champions (1996 and 1997).

Moyness Maharajah was reserve overall champion, before selling for the top price bull I have ever brought out at 26,000gns.

Best investment?

A bottle of 30-year-old Macallan whisky which I bought for £120 in 1999 and it is now worth a few thousand pounds!

The future of the showing circuit?

I think it is healthy, but the shows need to get more sponsorship and the breed societies need to donate more prize money because it hasn’t increased much in 30 years. Showing is an expensive business for everyone.

The entry numbers have been coming down over the years and it would be a shame to lose our shows. We need to hope that everyone will continue to pull together because not only is it a great promotion for your animals, but it is a great laugh and a break away from farming.