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email: [email protected]

Roxburgh Mains
Kelso TD5 8NJ

Tel: 01573 450 223
Fax: 01573 450 223

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The History of Rawburn by John Elliot

The Rawburn Aberdeen Angus herd evolved around 50 years ago from cattle bred in the Cape Wrath herd on the farthest North Westerly tip of the British mainland.
The Cape Wrath herd was started in 1913 by John Elliot, my Great Grandfather and his sons, Tom, John my Grandfather, Andrew and Walter. My Father, also John, used their best bulls in his herd of registered Aberdeen Angus and crossbred cows at Rawburn near Duns in the Scottish Borders. These produced calves for sale at the local auction. The family objective almost a century ago of providing high performance, sale topping cattle remains unchanged today at Roxburgh Mains, Kelso in the hands of the fourth and fifth John Elliot.

Several of the cross bred steer calves sold for huge prices and were subsequently successful in the leading primestock shows in the country. On three occasions during the 1970s the highest priced steer calf in the United Kingdom was bred in the Rawburn Herd. Extensive use of Charolais bulls, along with Angus and Shorthorn, which was the only profitable way at the time, led to a deterioration in the quality of the crossbred cows. To remedy matters, a number of registered Aberdeen Angus females were bought for crossing with the Shorthorn. Sometimes a better female would be bred pure. At this time two significant heifers entered the herd. Magnet Princess of Tangier, daughter of a cow from the first importation of cattle from Canada into the UK, and Southolm Duchess 66N, top priced heifer at the Southolm sale in 1982, proved exceptional breeders. Many descendants of both remain in the herd today. Two sons of Duchess were Reserve Supreme Champions at Perth Bull Sales. Another was top priced bull and a fourth Junior Champion.

In the 1980s Aberdeen Angus bulls did not enjoy the high prices they do today so the decision was taken to market the bulls privately as soon as they finished our on farm performance test. Every year since its inception more bulls from our herd have been included in the, Signet initially and ABRI latterly, list of top hundred bulls in the UK rated on performance than from any other herd. This is hardly surprising as we have not only weight recorded since the early 1980s and ultrasonically scanned since the technology became available, but have during this period sought out and used the highest performing bulls in the breed, wherever in the world they were, through purchase, A.I and E.T. At this time the bulls Scotch Cap, Rito 2100 GDAR and Nichols Landmark L56 made a major contribution to the herd. The most successful stock bulls during this period were Willabar Beacon, sired by Landmark, Nightingale Panther, sired by Rito 2100 and Elgar of the Moss, by Scotch Cap out of the great cow GT Evergreen 312.


A significant breakthrough occurred in 1997 when Rawburn Transformer was born. Sired by Hoff Great Western SC456 and out of Willabar Tilda 7B, a daughter of GT Maximum, Transformer broke every record as a yearling and recorded the previously unheard of Signet Beef Value of 55. His offspring, both in our own and other herds, comprehensively outperformed those of any other bull through the first decade of the millennium. In 2001 one third of the top hundred bulls in the UK, including the entire top ten, ranked on performance, were sired by him. In 2012, fifteen years after his birth, Transformer still remains a yardstick.

In 2004 the entire Huxton herd was purchased from our friend the late Frederick Tait. All animals were either bred in the Rawburn herd and had been sold to Huxton in 1996 or their offspring. They have made a notable contribution both physically and financially. The heifer Huxton Blackbird B81 was sold for 12,000 guineas to Bernard Mairs at ‘The Best of Blacks in The Borders’ sale 2004. She was supreme champion at The Royal Ulster Show in 2005.


Herd management remains as commercially realistic as it always has been. Heifers calve at two years of age. Bulls are reared in large contemporary groups on, if possible, feed grown on the farm. No animal receives preferential treatment during the performance recording period. Heifers and cows have been sold to a top of 16,000 guineas, a breed record at the time, for Rawburn Lady Rush A113 at ‘The Best of Blacks in The Borders’ sale. More recently females have sold at Perth Bull Sales to 14,000 guineas.

All bulls without exception are made available for sale at the conclusion of our own farm performance test. All performance statistics and EBVs are available for inspection and each bull is pre-priced based on genetics, its own performance and eye appeal. Occasionally, if a bull has not been sold he will be taken to Perth Bull Sale. In 2011 Rawburn Justice Eric J33 made the third top price of 15,000 guineas to Ballavitchell. At the same sale the Supreme Champion, Idvies Jarvis Eric and the Reserve Supreme Champion, Ballathie Consort were sired by Rawburn Rommel and Rawburn Elmo respectively. Jarvis Eric topped the sale at 20,000 guineas. At Perth Bull Sale in 2010, five of the top priced bulls, including the 28,000 guineas high seller Galawater Bentley H495, were by Rawburn Sires.

At the Perth Bull Sales in October 2011 the highest priced animal, male or female, was Kitewood Ellen Erica J77, sired by Rawburn Lord Ross C216 and out of Rawburn Ellen Erica D300, at 14,000 guineas. The second highest priced animal at 12,000 guineas was Rawburn Ella J996.

Three times in the past decade the top priced bull at Perth Bull Sales was purchased for the Rawburn herd; the last, Lockerley Legolas G850, in partnership with Idvies. Noted home bred bulls used in the herd have been Rawburn Lord Ross C216, Rawburn Randolph F555 and Rawburn Enigma G653. Our sires in 2012 are Lockerley Legolas G850, Rawburn Elysium F547, Rawburn Double O Seven J985, Rawburn Elmer J921 and Oakchurch Field Marshall K143.

Over the past two decades Embryo Transfer has been extensively practised. Notable cows from North America which have contributed to the genetics of the Rawburn herd include Hoff Ebony SC3330-991, Cudlobe Ellen Erica 46D, Prairielane Rosebud 8116 011, Willabar Rosebud 250G and Royal Eston Anne 23J. Bulls used on these and other cows for ET include SAV Net Worth, KMK Alliance, Mytty in Focus, GAR Gridmaker, Quaker Hill Objective, Hoff Great Western, Greens Premium, GH Cover Boy, OGL Battlecry, Harb Pendleton, Bush’s Strut, BJ’s Enforcer, Sydgen Turbo, Nichols Quiet Lad and, most of all, Hoff Limited Edition. A recent sire to be used is CCL Dateline 36R, a bull we considered to be the best we had seen in Western Canada when visiting the World Angus Forum in 2010.

In 2012 we flushed the Canadian cows Prairie Lane Rosebud 8109, Prairie Lane 5057 Estelle 7114 and Cottage Creek Tyra 911J and also the American cow Hoff Blackbird 994 5218.

The herd continues to dominate ABRI Breedplan in the UK. At January 2012, if all ages of cattle in the entire country are ranked for Terminal Sire Index, 12 out of the top 15 males were bred in the Rawburn herd and 14 out of the top 15 females. Rawburn Dublin K218 has the top ranking for Terminal Sire Index of 67 and also for Self Replacing Index of 81. Rawburn Elsie K228 is the highest ranked female with a TSI of 60 and a SRI of 80. Both are sired by Rawburn El Torro H774, now owned by Messrs Pottinger, Isauld Aberdeen Angus.

About 50 bulls are sold every year. The high percentage of repeat buyers indicates that our cattle are performing well; not only at home but wherever they go.

While we rarely show ourselves it is gratifying to see that our clients have, in recent years, been doing well in both local and national shows. Rawburn bulls have sired the Supreme Champions at the UK National Show in 2009, the Great Yorkshire Show in 2010 and the Royal Welsh Show both in 2010 and 2011. They also sired the Champion Male and the Champion Female at the National Winter Show in 2010 and both Senior and Junior Female Champions at The Black Beauty Bonanza 2009. In 2011 Rawburn Rock Solid was in the Aberdeen Angus team that won the prestigious Burke Trophy.

It has been our policy to collect and store embryos from our very best cows to enable us to restart the herd should it be taken out with Foot and Mouth Disease. The cows flushed recently includes Elegy B151, Duchess F504, Ellen Erica D318 and Elsie D328 in 2009; Duchess of Windsor 3rd, Ellen Erica D298, Lady Ross and Rosebud E425 in 2010. In 2011 we flushed Ellen Erica E405, Mosston Muir Eline H205 and the Danish cow ML Felicia Dateline 755. Hopefully these embryos will never be needed.

Our overall farming policy has shifted over two decades from 60% grain production and 40% pasture to 60% grass and 40% grain as nothing is paying us like the Aberdeen Angus cattle. In an era of high health schemes and, at the same time, fearsome health threats, seed stock selection using physical records, DNA technology and traditional phenotypic appraisal makes us feel confident as never before in the direction our cattle are moving.

Thank you for visiting our website. Even better, visit us at Roxburgh Mains, Kelso in the beautiful and historic Scottish Borders. Please contact us at [email protected] or on 01573 450223. We would be delighted to hear from you.

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