Thistledoo nicely says Alan to top ticket

Judge James Herman, daughter Lauren Mackinnon, dad Alan, with son Callum and the sheep interbreed champion
Judge James Herman, daughter Lauren Mackinnon, dad Alan, with son Callum and the sheep interbreed champion

The sheep interbreed champion at Monday’s Northumberland County Show is such a big Suffolk it’s difficult to coup her to trim her feet, joked her breeder and exhibitor Alan MacKinnon of Little Swinburn Farm Cottages, Coldstream.

The Berwickshire hobby farmer said he was pleased with the success of the clipped two-crop ewe which went on to take the show’s reserve champion of champions ticket. He said: “I was very surprised, but delighted. We were over the moon with the results.”

He and his partner Laura Caulfield and their children Lauren, 14, and Callum, 10, have 24 ewes on a 15-acre field they rent at Little Swinburn, between Swinton and Coldstream in Berwickshire.

It’s only the fourth year Alan, who has a gardening business, has been showing and only six since he started breeding Suffolks founded from the Flodden flock of East Learmonth, near Cornhill.

The winning homebred ewe, Thistledoo Thelma, was champion Suffolk at the Border Union Show in Kelso last year and she also took the championship at the Border Suffolk Club Show. Her best result at the Highland Show so far is a fifth placing, and she will try her luck again next month.

“I think judges like her size and carcass, she’s got a really wide carcass, she’s huge: we’ve got a job couping her to trim her feet!” said Alan.

Several Borders farmers took top tickets at the show at Bywell Hall, Stocksfield, among them father and son team Gordon and David Gray of Sunnycroft, Lindean, Selkirk, who swept the boards in the Texel lines, winning the breed championship with a ewe, male and female champion and reserve tickets and the best opposite sex to the champion with a tup lamb. Retired farmer, Charles Scott, 82, of Viewfield, East Middle, Hawick, maintained standards set at Ayr Show earlier this month when he once again took the Zwartbles breed championship with the same homebred two-crop ewe. In the Bluefaced Leicesters, David Henderson, New Bungalow, Sunnyside, Ormiston, Hawick, took the reserve male champion, while along the cattle lines, Ron and Robert Wilson of Cowbog, Morebattle, won the Hereford championship with the five-year-old cow Romany 1 Plum and reserve male championship with Romany 1 Jack. Jan Boomars of Stickle Heaton Farm, Cornhill, won the female ‘any other continental beef breed’ championship with the 20-month-old Charolais, Vexour Galina, and the male ticket with 13-month old bull Vexour Harlow. The reserve went to two-year-old Limousin bull Bacardi Gulliver from R & A Crockett, Conker Cottage, Denholm, and Cornhill’s Whittaker Farms took the any other native breed reserve champon and female championship with two-year-old Aberdeen Angus Haughton Laura.