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Developing the type within the Douglas Fold

The key to the success of any Pedigree enterprise is to learn the art of blending. That is to study very carefully all the characteristics within your Fold, good and bad, and to blend in the characteristics that you would like to see and cancel out the undesirable ones.  (Easy to write but extremely difficult to achieve)!

The selection of all the Foundation Cattle was in the hands of James McLaren who was held in such high regard amongst his fellow breeders that he was elected to serve on the Council of the Highland Cattle Society in 1926.

Breed character must have been foremost in his mind when he selected cattle. The Baravellas and Fuinary Queen 2nd are testimony to this, although I believe the former Factor at the Hirsel Estate, Mr Patrick Sellar, would have had a part to play in the acquisition of the latter. The selection of An-T-Uramach of Errol was based on his scale and width. He could not be described as a breeders’ bull of the traditional type, being fine of the coat and a less than popular colour (light dun), but his pedigree guaranteed to compliment the selected females.  The job of blending all of the various bloodlines and the day-to-day management of the Fold was placed in the very able hands of George Frame, known to all as “Joe”, who for the next fifty years cared for the Fold and knew every beast by its tattoo number.

From the outset all focus was to be on the commercial attributes of the Highland Breed – hardiness, longevity and above all good mothers with plenty of milk. The Show ring was never to play a prominent part in the development of the Douglas Fold. The Fold did enjoy some success at the Kelso Highland Show in 1926 with the stock bull An-T-Urumach placed second in the 2-year-old Class.

The following year, in 1927 in Edinburgh, he stood 1st  in the aged bull Class and was awarded the Male Championship and Reserve Breed Champion. This was the first Highland Show at which all the exhibits were halter-led. Prior to this, only bulls were led and all females were shown un-haltered in a far corner of the Showground. At the same Show, the Fold attained 6th place in the cow Class with Morag Ruadh 3rd of Stronvar.

At the 1928 Aberdeen Highland Show, the 2-year-old heifer Dossan Ruadh (9712) was placed 2nd and the yearling heifer 5th. Dossan Ruadh was to gain another 2nd place in the cow Class at the Alloa Highland Show of 1929 with the yearling heifer An-T-Uramach Pride in 6th place. The same heifer was to attain 3rd place the following year in Dumfries with An-T-Uramach Morag and An-T-Uramach Tangy being placed 3rd and 4th respectively in the yearling Class – all were daughters of An-T-Uramach of Errol. His daughters were also to feature at the Inverness Highland Show in 1933 with An-T-Uramach Pride 5th prize in the cow Class, whilst An-T-Uramach Morag, An-T-Uramach Tangy and Ban Righ Subhach stood 4th, 5th and 6th respectively in the Class for 3-year-old heifers and Sine An-T-Uramach placed 5th in the 2-year-old section.

The Glasgow Highland Show of 1934 was a particularly strong Show with new Folds coming to the fore and contending for top honours. The Champion on the day was the yearling bull An-Gille Snasar of Killundine (3743) shown by Mrs Lees-Milne, with the Reserve place awarded to Mr Francis Walker of Leys with their great foundation cow Annag Ruadh of Bochastle (10156). John Morrison of Islay House was also lifting top awards in the yearling Class with Annag Ruadh Ile IV (10694) whilst Mr James P. Dalgleish, who was in the process of establishing his Barbreck Fold gained 3rd and 4th place with his 3-year-old heifers Violet XI of Kilchamaig (10622) and Carlina of Southesk (10710).

The old established Folds such as Southesk, Achnacloich, Errol and Stronvar were always in contention and the Earl of Home’s Douglas Fold competing well in the cow Class with An-T-Uramach Morag (10395) and An-T-Uramach Pride (9996) placed 3rd and 4th and their black yearling heifer Prosaig Dubh (10706) 3rd in a strong yearling Class. She went on to gain 2nd place as a 3-year-old at the Melrose Highland Show in 1936 with Baravalla Milis (10707) placed 3rd in the same Class. In the 2-year-old Class, Measara Og (10853) stood 4th and Proisaig Ruadh 5th. In the yearling Class, a 5th prize was awarded to Mairi Ban Righ (11014) with the 6th prize going to Proisaig-A-Rithist (11015). Their Sire, Niall Ruadh of Fanans (3525) was bred by Mr James Currie. This bull had been bought for 46gs by Miss Dunlop of Shieldhill, near Biggar at the Oban Sale of 1929 when he was 2nd in the 2-year-old Class, and he was used in the Douglas Fold for one year on the daughters of An-T-Uramach with great success.

This Show ring experience was to give Joe all the expertise necessary to develop the Douglas Fold and bring even greater success in the years to come.

It was at the Bull Sale in 1937 that James McLaren eventually found a suitable replacement for An-T-Uramach. He had done exactly what had been expected, having bred the type of female which was to become the hallmark of the Douglas Fold. His replacement was the Champion 2-year-old Colin of Inchvanik (3851) bred by Mr John E. Christie of Gartlea by Loch Lomond. He commanded top price on the day 50gs. From all accounts, this bull had breed character in abundance, deep red in colour and a great pedigree. His Sire An-Ceatharaach of Achnacloich (3639) was by the very good Southesk’s bull Ossian V (3566) and the Dam line being the consistently good Lady White family from Stronvar, which are still to the fore today in the Balmoral and Callachally Folds. I believe that what attracted James McLaren most was his Dam’s line - the Mairi Ruadh’s of Atholl. It was at the Atholl dispersal Sale in Oban in October 1927 that John Christie bought the 3-year-old heifer Mairi Ruadh XX of Atholl (10107) for 68gs. It was another member of the same family, Mairi Ruadh 25th, which sold to Mr Ropner at the top price of 155gs.  It was said  on the day that Mr Christie ran up the top price heifer, but being a businessman his love of the Mairi Ruadhs’ had its limits. But on this occasion, you could say that one man bought the Beauty, while the other man got the Breeder (which is often the way)!

The selection of Colin of Inchvanik as new stock bull was influenced by the fact that two outstanding  bulls were present in his pedigree:  Alasdair Ruadh of Farr (3036) and the former Highland Show Champion Calum Ban-A-Rithist of Farr (2393), considered by many to be the best Highland bull if his time.

When Colin’s  successful career was over, he went on to help establish Lord Trent’s Mingary Fold in Ardnamurachan.

Note: This article is © Copyright of Angus R. Mackay. It has been reproduced with his permission.
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