For over two hundred years, the landed aristocracy has played a major part in the development of most of our Pedigree native breeds and the Highland Breed is no exception.
The records of the Royal Highland Agricultural Society record that from the very earliest shows the old aristocracy were prominent prize winners. The Highland Show held in Glasgow in 1826 saw Sir John Maxwell of Pollock awarded an Honorary Medal for his 2-year-old heifers, one black and one brindle, considered by many to be the best stock at the Show.
At the Inverness Highland Show of 1831, the Duke of Gordon, Earl Gower of Skelbo and the Marquis of Staford were all in the prize list. The Duke of Atholl’s Highland Cattle were to commence their long and illustrious association with the Show Ring at the Highland Show held in Kelso in 1863,giaining 1st prize with the red cow Rosie I (33) bred by the 2nd Marquis of Breadalbane.
The Paris International Show of 1865 saw the Hon. Lady Menzies, Rannoch Lodge and the Duke of Sutherland exhibit their Highland Cattle to great acclaim. The Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Seafield, Lord Middleton of Applecross and Lord Aveland of Glenartney were all exhibiting their Highland Cattle on a regular basis by 1884. This is also the year that saw the formation of the Highland Cattle Society and the establishment of a Herd Book.
By the time the Earl of Home established his Fold in 1926, the number of aristocrats involved in Pedigree breeding had declined, leaving only the Duke of Atholl and the Earl of Southesk showing on a regular basis.
The decision to establish the Douglas Fold was based on the commercial attributes of the Highland Breed and the contribution they could make to the profitability of the Douglas and Angus Estates.
This practical approach to cattle breeding was to hold sway for over eighty years by all those connected with the cattle and it is for this reason that the story of the Douglas Fold is well worth retracing.
Angus R Mackay