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The late Earl of Airlie commenced the breeding of polled cattle more than twenty years ago, but it was not until about 1865 that he began to devote special attention to the formation of a herd that rapidly came to the front. Among the early purchases were Delia 1533, New Year's Day 1124, and Jessica 2nd 3231, from Mr Whyte, Spott. Victoria of Kelly 345 was acquired from Mr Bowie, Mains of Kelly, and additions were also made from the Portlethen, Aldbar, Spott, The Thorn, Easter Tulloch, The Burn, and other herds. At the sale held by the late Mr M'Combie of Tilly four at Alford in 1874, Lord Airlie secured four of the best-bred cows and heifers disposed of on that occasion. They were—Regina 1179, of the Pride family, purchased for 40 guineas; Sylph 2nd 1787, of the Queen tribe; Salvia 1781, of the Zara tribe, who cost 60 guineas; and Diana 1782, of the Daisy branch of the Queen tribe, who cost 76 guineas, being the highest price paid at the sale. Miss Macpherson 1252, of the Erica tribe, who had been bought at Tullochallum for 90 guineas, was secured by Lord Airlie at a very long price. At Tullochallum, in 1877, Lord Airlie purchased the heifer Dwina 3081, of the Rothiemay Georgina family, for 60 guineas. In the same year, at Mr Hannay's sale at Corskie, was purchased Erica 4th 1697 for 101 guineas, and some others of lesser note. At the Montcoffer sale in 1878, Lord Airlie paid 46 guineas for the calf Pavilion 3772. She turned out a magnificent heifer, and it was a great misfortune that she died when under three years old. A few good animals were bought at Rothiemay in 1878, but the most important purchases were made at Tillyfour in 1880. At that sale three animals were acquired at an average of over £93 each. They were— Pride of Aberdeen 5th 1174, at 135 guineas; Sybil 1st of Tilly four 3524, at 110 guineas; and the calf Pride of Aberdeen 23rd, at 35 guineas. Pride of Aberdeen 5th was the only daughter of the original Pride offered at the sale, and although in her thirteenth year, she looked fresh and useful. She had bred some of the finest members of this fashionable family produced in recent years, among them Mr Ferguson's national prize bull Shah, Mr Hannay's Lilias of Tilly four, and Sir George Macpherson Grant's Pride of Mulben. Sybil 1st, who was bred at Baads, won, among other honours, the first prize as a cow at the Highland Society's show in 1877, and the first prize and Challenge Cup for the best animal of the breed at Aberdeen the same year. Her daughter, Sybil 2nd, after a very distinguished career, was sold to Lord Southesk for 180 guineas. Among other animals added at various times we may note Pride of Tarland 3148, Fair Lady 2159, Frances of Airlie 3050, Constance 4196, Nosegay 4th 2974, Lady Regula 4200, &c. In the selection of sires, equal discretion has been displayed. Bolshan 420, bred by Lord Southesk, a local prize-winner, after Jupiter 471, a son of Windsor 221, and out of Rhoda 566, a daughter of Cup-Bearer 59, was followed by the national prize bull Juryman 404, of the Ballindalloch Jilt tribe. Belus 749, a son of Juryman, and bred in the herd, was next used. Potentate 1199, bred at Kinnochtry, after Shah 680, and out of Princess 3rd 1771, of Mr Ferguson's Princess tribe, proved a very useful stock sire. Logie the Laird 6th 1623, from Mr Bowie's herd, after Gainsborough 3rd 598, and from the same Lizzy family as produced the renowned Hanton 228, was secured at a long figure. Pontiff 1497, a son of Potentate, and descended from the Keillor herd, and Prince Chase 1454 of the Zara tribe, got by Challenger 1260, were also in service. The sires more recently used have been the Erica bull Elcho 595, the Pride bull Provost 1259, and the Erica bull Erison 1624—the two first-named bred at Ballindalloch, and the last bred in the herd.
It was expected that by the end of this year's calving season the herd would number about 105 head. The principal families represented are the Pride of Aberdeen, Erica, Sybil, Delia, Jessica, &c. Among the show-yard honours won by the Cortachy herd were two second prizes at the Highland Society in 1879, with Pontiff 1497 and Pavilion 3772; two first prizes at the Highland Society's show in 1880, with the heifers Pavilion 3772 and Miranda 4204; a first and a second prize at Carlisle, with Ericson 1624 and Pavilion; and the first prize for two-year-old heifers at the Highland Society in 1881, with Miranda, descended from Colonel M'Inroy's old stock at The Burn. A large number of prizes have also been gained at local shows. Two public sales have been held. At the sale in 1876, 26 head averaged over £35; and at the sale in 1880, 43 head averaged over £30. At the sale in 1876, the Pride cow Regina was bought by Mr Adamson, Balquharn, for 70 guineas. At Mr Adamson's sale in 1881, Regina fetched 105 guineas, and her daughters Pride of Aberdeen 18th 4321, and Pride of Aberdeen 25th 4331, 160 guineas and 50 guineas respectively—Regina and her two calves thus averaging £110. A feature of the Cortachy herd is its superior milkingqualities. Lord Airlie was careful to select animals of noted milking strains, and he was able to produce records which somewhat surprised those who disparaged the milking properties of the breed. To his lordship's efforts in this direction reference is made elsewhere.
The ‘Herd Book” entries of the cattle belonging to Mr William Wilson at Drumfergue, Gartly, scarcely do justice to the breeding of the animals composing the herd. It was founded by the late Mr James Smith, Drumfergue, about thirty-five years ago, by the purchase of a cow and a bull from the Rev. Mr Rainy, Corse of Monellie, a famous breeder, although he registered few of his stock. Mr Smith, on two or three occasions, also bought animals from the late Mr M.Combie of Tilly four. One of the animals procured from Tillyfour was, we are informed, a cow which gained a prize at the Paris Exhibition in 1856. This occurred before the ‘Herd Book’ was published, and therefore it is impossible to give names. Although the herd has been kept pure since its commencement, and very long prices were paid by the late Mr Smith for sires from the best breeders in the country, Mr Wilson, on entering the farm, was unable to trace the pedigrees further back than to cows by Moonraker 591 and Ranger 590, both bred by Mr Tayler of Glenbarry, the former after Elector 427, and descended from the Crathes herd, and the latter after Bon Accord 446, and tracing from the Castle Fraser herd. The sire in use at present is Fitzjohn 1687, bred by Sir William Forbes, Bart., after Gainsborough 4th 1425, and of the Mains of Kelly Lucy family. The bulls previously used by Mr Wilson were Lord Hamilton 1716, of the Windsor branch of the Queen tribe, and Simon 1205, a son of Palmerston 374. These bulls were all of good breeding, and left stock of superior quality, and easily fattened. The herd numbers about 30. Most of them are descended from the old Drumfergue stock, the chief addition having been Annie 2nd of Morlich 4257, representing the Windsor branch of the Queen tribe.
The Drumin herd was founded about 1856 by the late Mr James Skinner, father of the present owner, Mr W. M. Skinner. Mr Skinner then purchased three heifers from Morayshire, the pedigrees of which were never obtained. From them spring three families, of which the first recorded members are Fortune 945, Grace 946, and Eliza 960. In 1862 there were bought from Mr Bowie, Mains of Kelly, the heifers Young Lucy 947 and Young Raniston 948. As these are the animals that established the families that have mainly raised the reputation of the herd, it is desirable to furnish a brief analysis of their pedigrees. Young Lucy 947 was after Young Panmure 232, bred by Mr M.Combie of Tillyfour, the first-prize aged bull at Dumfries Highland Society show in 1860. He was got by Hanton 228, and out of Crinoline 204, one of the closest-bred Queen cows at Tilly four, a daughter of the celebrated Charlotte 203. Young Lucy's dam, Lucy of Portlethen 287, was after Fyvie 13, a son of the Keillor bull Old Jock 1. Lucy of Portlethen 287 was out of the same cow as Raglan 208, who was in the prize-list at the Paris Exhibition in 1856, when Mr Walker, Portlethen, his breeder, refused an offer of £230 from the Emperor Napoleon. Young Raniston 948 was after Alford 231, a son of Hanton 228 and the Queen cow Fair Maid of Perth 313, a first-prize winner at the Royal English and Highland Societies' shows. From these two heifers, acquired from Mr Bowie, are descended the Lucy and the Beauty families. In 1862, two heifers were purchased from the late Mr Robertson, Burnside. One of these died, but the other, Princess of Burnside 950, has left a good family. At the Tilly four sale in 1867, the cow Dandy 949 was bought. Her breeding was very fashionable, she being out of Empress of France 578, a full sister of Pride of Aberdeen 581, and after Rob Roy Macgregor 267, a full brother of the famous Kinnaird bull Windsor 202. At the same sale in 1867, the heifer Pride 957, after President 4th 368, and out of Pride of Aberdeen 3rd 1168, was acquired. The chief females added since were Moonlight 1479, of the Rothiemay Georgina family, dam of those excellent bulls Sir loger 702 and Sir Wilfred 1157, both Highland Society prize-winners; Rompie 2298, from Burnside, full of Queen