Scottish-bred stockman, George McCulloch – now working across the Border in North Yorkshire – is next up to share his lifetime experiences of showing pedigree cattle.

George’s journey has landed him 25 miles south of the Scotch Corner, in the outskirts of Thirsk, where he has been attending to the day-to-day running of the Upsall Beef Shorthorn herd along with his wife, Maureen, for the past four years. They have 100 pedigree females on the estate and have recently gone online with a new website for the herd, to make up for the lack of shows and open sales.

Born and bred in Barrhill, South Ayrshire, George arrived in the Stirling area from 18 years of age where he worked until moving south four years ago.

Various employments brought the honour and pleasure of being at the head of many champions over the years between Charolais, Limousins, commercial cattle and Beef Shorthorns.

A big part of his career was his 12-year employment working under the Allanfauld prefix from 1995 to 2006. Then he had a further three successful years bringing out champions under the Loganbar Charolais prefix, for Murray Lyle. Soon after that, George moved onto his Beef Shorthorn journey which is still going strong today.

Why have you chosen Beef Shorthorns?

They are very docile, easy calving with a great nature making them easy to work with. They are the perfect fit for a low input, low-cost system.

But, if I had to go into another breed it would have to be the Charolais for their sheer power, growth rates and their commercial attributes to the commercial industry.

What made you travel down to Yorkshire?

After my work in Scotland, we were offered this job opportunity and it was an interesting challenge for us both. We would never look back at it now with any regret – it is a great environment down here.

When did showing all begin for you?

I don’t ever remember no show! My parents encouraged me to go for my passion of livestock all my life and I don’t know where my life would be without it.

And it has continued on in my married life, with my wife, Maureen. She has always been a big part of my journey having worked along side me since we were married 28 years ago.

My son, John, has now carried on our love for livestock having shown cattle since he was five years old and has just finished his HND at Edinburgh, recently landing a job with the Barbour family at Auchengibbert, at Crocketford, Dumfries.

Royal Highland experiences?

My most memorable without a doubt was when I lifted the commercial cattle championship in 1994 with my own Charolais cross heifer, Miss Solitaire. She went on to be reserve overall at the Winter Fair, held at Perth, the same year, before selling to Stevensons Meats for £1750.

She was bred on the isle of Mull by Bert Leitch and it all came about when I was over there judging in 1993. I placed her champion as a four-month-old calf and purchased a half-share in her before bringing her back over to the mainland. She was housed with Alan Turnbull, Meadowend, which I am very grateful for as I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we did with her without his help.

Royal Highland Show commercial cattle champion in 1994 with this Charolais cross heifer, Miss Solitaire was Georges greatest achievement

Royal Highland Show commercial cattle champion in 1994 with this Charolais cross heifer, Miss Solitaire was George's greatest achievement

What is the best animal you have ever shown?

Solitaire ... because she was my own!

What is the best animal you have ever seen?

Kilkenny Celia, without a doubt among the Charolais for her correctness throughout, whilst among the Limousins it would have to be Millbrook Ginger Spice, a heifer shown in Ireland by William Smith, for her sheer power.

Back amongst the commercial cattle, the best in the industry would have to be The Bandit and Dancing Queen. They both had it all, from breed characteristics to style. They were the best-balanced cattle I have ever seen.

My favourite Beef Shorthorn would have to be the Irish heifer, Bushypark Cherry 2.

Abiding memory?

My son, John, winning the Great Yorkshire Show young handlers in 2015 and the same year picking up the Smithfield young stockman trophy. It makes me proud that the next generation are coming through with real talent.

Biggest disappointment?

In livestock you will always get disappointments one day but the good days that follow make it all worthwhile.

Most influential person in you career?

John Wight, of Midlock. Whenever I needed someone to speak to and required some good advice, he was always there for me and still is.

Favourite shows and why?

The Royal Highland and the Great Yorkshire shows, they are both the big national shows and are the ones to win. Everyone being in the one place and bringing out their best livestock in order to win creates a superb atmosphere.

Best stockmen ever?

Archie MacGregor and Danny Wyllie. I learnt a serious amount in my career from those two and I wouldn’t be where I am today without their expertise over the years.

A special mention must go to a superb stockmen, a great character and a guy with a sense of humour, and that is the late Jack Ramsay. We have known each other from 18 years of age and gone through Young Farmers, shows and life together. He lived his life with honesty and integrity and will always have a place in my heart.

Not forgetting the ladies and two who have the ability to not only bring out, but rear cattle are Anne Macpherson and Jennifer Hyslop. Both are well respected and are very determined stock women that have had a huge influence in the show and sale rings.

At this time, there is no body in my eyes that can bring cattle out and present them like Jennifer can – everything is always done to perfection.

Up incoming stockmen?

Ali Jackson and Drew Hyslop are great young enthusiasts that have the talent of presenting their stock to perfection, they have a strong career ahead of them.

Alan Burleigh, from Northern Ireland, has always stuck in my mind, too. I first came across him when I was judging over in Ireland – he was six years old and caught my eye! I have been watching his career ever since.

Best advice received?

Get out your bed early in the morning to seize the day as every day is a school day and there is always something to learn.

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

The return of the Royal Smithfield Show. The loss of it was an absolute disaster. Showing in Earls Court, with the white lights, the glitter, and the sand was just uncannily special. It was always an honour to be there and a real highlight of the farming calendar every year.

Biggest showing achievement?

Being tapped out as breed champion at the Great Yorkshire Show in 2015 is another favourite of mine, especially as it was the breed’s national show.

Another would be winning the Royal Highland with Solitaire in 1994.

Best investment?

A wedding ring!

Have Beef Shorthorns changed for the modern market?

Everybody has got to move with the times. The style of cattle has changed, especially in the commercial cattle world, but it is essential to adapt to this and keep moving forward.

Beef Shorthorns are one of the most improved breeds in the last 20 years. They have now hit the commercial market through the help of Morrisons supermarket selling their branded beef and promoting the breed well. We just have to hope the next 20 years are the same!

Changes over the years within farming?

Farming in general has witnessed the change of increased machinery and fewer staff on farm now a days, which makes it more of an anti-social job. The showing circuit makes up for that and allows us to meet up with old friends every year.

Future of the showing circuit?

Hopefully, when we get out of this pandemic and get back to a bit of normality, I would like to think the show circuit has a strong future to keep on going.

The livestock and various shows across the country are great advocates to the general public and allows them to see what goes on in the farming world. Not only this but it is a great shop window for your herd for showing off your best cattle available.

I am just grateful for the opportunities I have had over the years and the high-quality livestock I have worked with has been a real honour.