Obituary: Drew Adam, master stockman

Born: 3 April 1937 at Doune. Died: 17 December 2015 Forfar

Drew Adam
Drew Adam

There is no guarantee that top livestock breeders will genetically pass on their skills and expertise to the next generation but Drew – as Andrew Adam was known throughout his life – Adam, of Newhouse of Glamis ,who died last week, not only inherited his father’s ability to assess cattle, he went on to be recognised throughout the world as a master stockman.

Within the UK, he uniquely judged the overall cattle championship at all four “Royal” Shows – the Royal Highland, the Royal Welsh, Royal Ulster, and the now defunct English Royal; not once, not twice but three times.

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His national reputation as an expert in livestock judging then expanded to top events in other major cattle producing countries including Australia, Argentina and the USA.

A much-used passport revealed visits to more than 50 countries worldwide. All of this being a far cry from his first public judging stint where, as a mere 16-year-old, he had sorted out the cattle at the 1953 Perth Show.

This was followed a few years later when, as a member of the Scottish Young Farmers team, he helped win the international beef competition. Whilst for the rest of his life, he was in demand as a cattle judge on a world stage no show was too small for this talented but modest man. On one occasion, he took on the challenge at Dunvegan show in Skye. The mark of the man was he gave the exhibits and exhibitors at that little show on Skye the same courteous professional appraisal and comments he would have at the major national and international events.

At home, his Newhouse bred cattle were greatly sought as he was a master stockbreeder although, apart from pre-sale shows, he rarely exhibited his own stock.

He was quietly proud that the prefix Newhouse was recognised worldwide, and cattle and genetics from this farm in Angus have now been exported to 22 countries

His abilities both in producing top cattle and in judging them saw him being awarded the prestigious Sir William Young Award in 2009 for services to the Scottish livestock industry.

His life started on the family farm at Annet, near Doune but, not long after Drew’s birth, the family moved in 1937 to Newhouse of Glamis on the outskirts of Forfar.

Significantly, they took with them an Aberdeen Angus cow and two of her calves that were to form the start of the family’s involvement with the pedigree cattle world. Later, in 1950, father, Bob or RM as he was called, also founded the “Glamis” Beef Shorthorn herd.

Drew Adam thus grew up amidst pedigree livestock, sharing his father’s passion and continuous determination to use stock bulls with the conformation and genetics that would improve their own cattle with each generation.

The rewards for their efforts were reaped in what was then the sale ring of the world; the famous Perth Bull Sales which attracted buyers not only from throughout the UK but also from the New World of North and South America.

Drew’s first visit to the bull sales was as a seven year old in 1945, when he walked with the sale bulls the two miles from Newhouse to Glamis railway station. He then travelled with the bulls into Perth, before walking with them through the streets from the railway station to the auction mart in Caledonian Road.

Drew saw the trade in these two breeds peak in the 1950’s and 1960’s and still as a young man in 1961, he saw nine “Newhouse” Aberdeen-Angus bulls sold at a very impressive average of £7,530. Four years later, he and his father sold their top bull to the Black Watch Farms in America for 34,000 guineas (£35,700) which is still the best “Newhouse” price.

When the larger and leaner Continental breeds were imported into the UK in the second half of the 20th century, the Adams promptly responded to the market signals from commercial bull buyers in 1969 they replaced their Beef Shorthorns with Charolais. This was followed ten years later with the sale of the Aberdeen-Angus herd, which made way for another continental breed; Limousins.

More recently, proving his vision, he was one of the first breeders in this country to introduce Black Limousins; a controversial move at the time but one which has proven popular with buyers.

His contribution to the Charolais breed extended beyond breeding and judging as he was twice chairman of the British Charolais Cattle Society and in 2007 was elected Breed President. Ten years previously he had the honour of being appointed International president for the breed.

His skills also extended to sheep breeding as the family farming enterprise included the hill farm of Knowehead of Auldallan where the long-established and successful pedigree “Auldallan” Scottish Blackface flock were kept.

The farm also had a commercial herd of suckler cows which Drew maintained helped him understand, at first hand, the breeding stock qualities needed by commercial farmers.

Alongside his outstanding livestock history of achievement, Drew was also a first class arable farmer, ready to embrace new ideas, new crops and new machinery. He once remarked, “You need to be tidy if you farm on either side of the main Forfar/Perth road. There are plenty fellow farmers driving past.”

When asked about what was important in his life, he would reply, “farming, family and fun.”

His own family life started with meeting Margaret Ramsay, the daughter of a neighbouring farmer, or at least a neighbour until he moved down to Lincolnshire to farm there.

Undaunted by distance, the romance bloomed and Drew and Margaret married in !960 to be followed by the birth of three daughters, Kay, Ann and Helen and son, Bob.

From all of them and, in due course their spouses and children, Drew derived great enjoyment and fun but none more so than his wife, soulmate and provider of a thousand teas and hospitality to the many visitors to Newhouse, Margaret.

And for those who believe livestock breeding genes are passed down the generations, seven years ago Drew watched his grandsons Andrew and James Adam sell their Charolais bull for 10,000 guineas (£10,500) making them the fourth generation of Adam to sell at Perth. In the livestock world, this passing down of good genes is called line breeding.