A lifetime in agriculture and a character in the industry Robbie Scott of the Nethervalley herd has certainly made his mark in the dairy industry and especially in the show ring over the years.


I was born and bred at Netherhall, in Largs ... milking cows with my parents and brother, Alistair. I knew it was my passion from a young age and left school at the age of 16 to study agriculture at Auchincruive.

I wanted to gain experience, so I landed myself a herdsman job at Walter Hogarths, at Knockrivoch, in Saltcoats, for six years milking 180 Friesians and Montbeliardes. I learnt a lot there about herd and grassland management.

In 2004, my wife, Margo and I – with a lot of help from our parents – purchased Shacklehill, in Mossblown. With no dairy there, I bought bulling heifers, served them, calved them, sold them and this was my business model for many years alongside 70 beef cows.

Alongside this I got a herdsman job at Robert Veitch’s farm running the Vetech herd of 220 cows on four Lely robots, with a focus on breeding and showing his elite stock.

Thanks to Robert, he allowed me to run a herd of 30 of my own which I took back to Shacklehilll in December, 2016, to start milking in my own Lely A3 robot.

We’ve now managed to build up to 120 milking Holstein cows under the Nethervalley herd prefix, along with half-a-dozen show Jerseys, plus 160 dairy followers and all on 200 acres.

It’s all family labour other than our relief helper, Scott Gilliland. Thanks to him, we can go to shows, or get the odd holiday!

What is it you are looking for in a beast?

My ideal cow has changed over recent years. I am now aiming for the more manageable-sized cubicle cow – the rest of her remains the same.

Plenty of strength and width throughout with the optimum rump set, whilst retaining dairyness, good legs, feet and locomotion! But the well connected, high wide rear udder covered in veins with correct teat placement is definitely the cherry on top!

If you had to choose another breed, which would it be?

I’ve dabbled in Jerseys and, following a lot of show and sale success with them, they’ve certainly got a place here – but only a few as my milk contract doesn’t really benefit from their milk quality!

Struggles within the dairy industry?

There’s the obvious struggles of milk contracts and prices and an ever-increasing worry of our (as an industry) supposed high carbon footprint, which I’m sure we’ll all manage to address with the help of the experts!

My biggest concern is probably the size of my farm and the herd it can carry. Is there a place in the future for the small family farm only producing 1.5m litres?

What got you involved in showing?

Showing for me started when I was a wee boy going to all the local shows every weekend with my dad and his late friend and great show enthusiast, Peter Howie! This is when I probably decided that I wanted to be part of this industry!

Best Royal Highland Show achievement?

I’ve only managed to show at the Highland with a team of cows once, that was in 2019! We were Jersey heifer champion, Jersey cow champion, reserve dairy inter-breed, inter-breed calf champion and then my son, Rory, won the young dairy handlers! It was absolutely amazing!!

Which was the best animal that you have ever shown?

It has to be Moscow Integrity Nita. She was my first cow that I showed at AgriScot. She was an absolute pet that I bought as an in-calf heifer from Robert McInnes for £1500. I sold her two years later for £3800 to the Currie/Alston syndicate.

She lived to be 19 years old and I’ve managed to buy quite a few of her descendants back for my current herd.

But what’s the best animal that you have ever seen?

The best animal I have seen in the UK has to be Illens Atwood Australia from the Lairds, at Blyth Bridge, and the cow that beat her at the European Show, in Colmar, has to be the most ‘Wow’ cow, Galys Vray! I’m currently using her full brother as my stock bull just now, Blythbridge Vray!

Abiding memory?

Selling my 2019 show calves, Nethervalley Kingpin Sara, for 10,000gns to Robert McInnes, and Nethervalley Awesome Emma for 4000gns to S Esquardo – it rounded off a great year. They’ve both calved heifer calves and classified VG87 which has resulted in some happy purchasers!

The most successful home-bred animal, Nethervalley Kingpin Sara, who sold for 10,000gns at the Black and White sale in 2019

The most successful home-bred animal, Nethervalley Kingpin Sara, who sold for 10,000gns at the Black and White sale in 2019

Biggest disappointment?

Winning the senior class at the UK Dairy Expo 2019 with Kepculloch Atwood Snowboots with the Still Game syndicate and watching her die six weeks later with blood poisoning after a horrific leg injury when in heat! (back to earth with a bump).

Most influential person in your career?

There are three. My mother, who encourages me to buy new families; my father, who talks them down when they arrive; and my wife, who goes bonkers when another bill for coos comes in. Together they keep me grounded!

Obviously, my father has given me the bug to show cattle from an early age and his eye for good stock has definitely been passed on, but he also has taught me that you need to enjoy it too and to be graceful in defeat.

Your choice of best stockman?

The aforementioned Robert McInnes. I feel he knows cows as well as anyone and after suffering for more than 20 years of Parkinsons disease, he is an inspiration – he is still as keen as mustard, phoning me two or three times a week about his cows that are housed here and planning his next purchase. (Don’t tell his wife, Kate).

Who has got the best kist parties?

The best kist parties are always at the Highland, usually it’s with the Weatherups, Lairds, or Yates – or all of them! They’re becoming professional at holding the winning parties.

It is the only show that I can really have a drink at and reflect afterwards, as well as the rest I need to float the cattle home and do the work. Dad stays at the other shows to represent Nethervalley post-judging. He is part of an elite squad of professional spectators, commentators, celebrators or commiserators, which makes every show complete!

Favourite quote?

Colin Laird’s quote is my favourite, he said: “It’s not about what you dae, or about what you hae ... It’s about what you dae with what you hae.”

If you could change one thing ...?

My hairdresser, she’s taking more and more off the top every time, I’ll need to say something to her actually!

Biggest showing achievement?

Winning the black and white and red and white Scottish calf champions then going on to be reserve in both sections at the All Britain Calf Show in 2019 with two home-bred calves!

Best advice for someone starting off?

Don’t give up! Your day will come. Remember, it is probably more fun trying to win than defending a win.

Best investment?

It’s got to be Clauchlands Blackbird, purchased for £1800 at Carlisle as a fifth calver. I was mocked by my peers for spending too much on an old cow. The following year she was inter-breed champion at Catrine, Ayr and Stranraer shows. She has had twins three years in a row, classified Ex 95 and has now given over 100 tonnes of milk!

What is your ideal day off?

I should say spending a relaxing day with the family, but to be honest I love getting in the car with dad, Hughie Kennedy, George Borland and John Montgomery (car load varies) horse down the motorway to a herd dispersal, sniff out some bargains and shoot back up the road to face the music from Margo for buying more coos!

Has stockmanship taken you overseas?

Margo and I went to Colmar European Dairy Show in 2016 to support team GB, which had a great show. It is definitely a dream to someday have a cow compete in Europe.

Are you involved in any committees?

I am currently the West of Scotland Holstein Club chairman and the Scottish HYB co-ordinator.

The future of the showing circuit?

I think everyone has realised how much they’ve missed showing and personally I think they are going to be rejuvenated after this involuntary time out … Fingers crossed!

Could you imagine life without showing?

With my two boys Rory (15) and Kyle (11) both mad keen on showing then NO, I can’t imagine life without shows. It’s also our shop window and our social circle too.

It is great to meet up with friends with similar interests, have a drink, a carry on and start off where we left off at the last show! Lifelong friends are what makes it!