Scottish exile, Norman Catto, has been honoured by his adopted country of Argentina by being invited to judge both the Aberdeen-Angus and Beef Shorthorn breeds at the famous Palermo Show in Buenos Aires next July.
He will be the first Scottish judge to officiate at Argentina’s premier show and sale of pedigree cattle since the late Robert M Adam of Newhouse of Glamis, Forfar, in 1970.
“I am delighted to be the first Scot for many years to judge at Palermo,” said Mr Catto. “It will be quite a task as the Aberdeen-Angus classes usually attract about 500 bulls and there will be getting on for 100 Shorthorns.”
Mr Catto has been asked to judge before but felt he couldn’t take it on at the time because of his commitment as a cattleman or adviser to some of the herds who were showing.
Originally from Logie Coldstone, near Aboyne, Mr Catto first went to Argentina in 1962 as assistant cattleman to the late Alex Ogg, Buchaam, Strathdon, who was engaged for a few months every year by the late Raul Firpo, owner of one of Argentina’s leading Aberdeen-Angus herds, La Danessa, to prepare bulls from the herd for the Palermo show.
He started off his working life as a shepherd on the Ballogie Estate, Aboyne, and gained early experience with Aberdeen-Angus with two of the leading North-east herds of the time, Douneside and Buchaam, before taking up permanent residence in Argentina.
For many years, he managed the Las Lilas herds of Aberdeen-Angus and Herefords, where he was responsible for the preparation of 1200 bulls for sale each year, and has won numerous championships at Palermo over the years with Aberdeen-Angus, Hereford, Beef Shorthorn, Hereford and Devon cattle.
In recent years, he has worked as a freelance consultant planning the genetic programme for a number of herds, which has involved regular visits to the USA and Canada, and supervising the showing of cattle from those herds at Palermo, the Porto Alegre show in Brazil and the La Prada show in Uruguay.
He is a regular visitor to Scotland and judged Aberdeen-Angus at the Perth bull sales in 1987 and at the Black Beauty Bonanza calf show at Thainstone Centre in 2005. He attended the Royal Highland Show two years ago and plans to return for this year’s show.
Mr Catto (71) was born at Luss, Dunbartonshire, and moved to Logie Coldstone at the age of 10 when his mother was widowed. He still has family connections in the area.
Scottish judges officiated most years at Palermo in the years before World War 11 and throughout the 1950s and 1960s but it has been mostly North and South American judges since the early 1970s when many herds moved from Scottish to North American genetics in the quest for larger-framed cattle.