Breeding Highland cattle on Bute - ‘a hobby that’s gone mad’

Highland cattle breeders Eileen Lawrence and Ronald 'Scooby' McMillan with Bob of Isle of Bute, the two-year-old bull crowned champion of champions at this year's Bute Agricultural Society show.
Highland cattle breeders Eileen Lawrence and Ronald 'Scooby' McMillan with Bob of Isle of Bute, the two-year-old bull crowned champion of champions at this year's Bute Agricultural Society show.

Bute Highland cattle breeders Ronald McMillan and Eileen Lawrence have spoken to The Buteman about their passion - and about just what it is that makes the breed so special.

The couple started in 2001 with siblings bought from friends who were leaving the island - and now have around 60 cattle on land around their home at Little Grenach near Rothesay.

“This just started as a hobby,” Ronald - known to just about everybody as Scooby - tells us.

“The couple who owned the Ardbrannan riding centre in the late 1990s, the Rooneys, were retiring and moving away to England, but they had a couple of Highland cows who were looking for a home.

“Eileen’s daughter Sarah-Jane went to the riding school and absolutely loved these two - Mr and Mrs Moo, they were called - and the next thing I knew I was up there getting them.

“In 2002 we had our first calf, Holly, named after the Rooneys’ granddaughter. She’s 13 now - we have 16 or 17 breeding cows today, but about 60 cattle altogether.

“It’s a hobby that’s gone a wee bit mad.”

* Read this story in full in the September 25 edition of The Buteman - on sale now.