Real lives: Tributes paid to farmer behind new cattle breed

Ralph Cadzow bred Luing cattle with the help of his brothers

Ralph Cadzow bred Luing cattle with the help of his brothers

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TRIBUTES have been paid to a farmer who helped create the first new breed of British cattle for more than a century.

Ralph Cadzow was born in Kilpunt, East Lothian, in 1923. One of four children - he had two bothers and a sister - he was educated at Loretto School, in Musselburgh, which he left in 1940 to take charge of four farms while his brothers were serving in the forces.

That early baptism of fire – at the farms in Kilpunt, Dankerhill, East Mains and Traboon – stood him good stead and he developed a love for breeding.

In 1946 he travelled to the United States and Canada with a shipment of pedigree cattle and studied beef farming. He also visited Argentina and Australia to hone his skills.

The following year he bought the southern half of the island of Luing, off the west coast of Scotland, and later with his brothers – Shane and Denis – purchased the other half to provide an ideally isolated base for their planned breeding programme using cross-bred bulls.

The result was the Luing breed of beef cattle, which was ratified by parliament in 1965, and is now found in more than 100 UK herds and exported as far afield as Canada and Australia.

The brothers’ efforts were recognised by a Massey Ferguson World award for services to agriculture in 1972. That was followed by the Sir William Young award in 2000, presented by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society for outstanding service to livestock breeding.

Ralph was a keen rugby player and lined up in the second row for Edinburgh Wanderers. He was also selected for a Scotland international trial. The highlight of his sporting career was playing for North East Counties against the All Blacks in 1954, falling to a narrow 9-6 defeat.

Despite his farming success, Ralph remained involved in rugby. He was instrumental in the formation of Berwick Rugby Club and the acquisition of their ground in Scremerston, near his farm.

Ralph was president of the club between 1968 and 1970 and honorary English president, given Berwick’s unique border status from 1970-76.

He also enjoyed curling and typical farming pursuits, being an original member of the Abbey St Bathans shooting syndicate before later in life switching his focus to fishing, casting for brown trout with a passion.

It was at a birthday party in December 1954 that Ralph met his wife Margaret. They married two years later and had their first child, Ian, in 1958 before Simon followed in 1960. Both enjoyed curling, with Margaret representing Scotland in the world championships.

Ralph, who died on March 30 in Berwick-on-Tweed, is survived by his wife, sons and five grandchildren – Alex, Ralph, Laura, Flora and Teal.