Bull sellers must forget catwalk

Neil McGowan said the industry needs to ditch the 'hairspray of the catwalk'. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Neil McGowan said the industry needs to ditch the 'hairspray of the catwalk'. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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One of the features of selling pedigree bulls in this country is the show with all the animals about to be sold being paraded and judged prior to entering the sale ring.

However, one of the leading beef producers in the country has questioned whether, in his words: “The show-ring is a neck-tie that we’ve forgotten to take off and it’s slowly choking our industry.”

Neil McGowan, Incheoch, Alyth, who has just completed a Nuffield Scholarship which took him to see the beef industries in both Australasia and North America, said that he did not want to do away with the show part of the sale but felt it was too influential and was leading breeds in the wrong direction.

“It’s pushing us to breed bigger and bigger cattle, when they are already too big,” he said.

READ MORE: Limousins power ahead at Stirling bull sales

McGowan admitted that in preparing bulls for sale – and he has Simmentals heading to Stirling next week – the tendency was to think about how they would look in the show ring while the thoughts should be on aspects of production that mattered such as maternal traits, longevity and carcase growth.

“I admit that I have spent more on hairspray for my cattle than I have on buying it for myself. The industry has got to get away from the glitter and hairspray of the catwalk that our bull sales have become.”

He wanted buyers to look beyond the bull itself and see the inbred characteristics or attributes it brought with it.