Mules maestro Ashley Caton, of Otterburn Lodge Farm, Otterburn, worked his magic yet again when exhibiting both the champion pens of 10 and 20 lambs in the season's major opening ewe lamb show and sale from members of the North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA) at Skipton Auction Mart. (Tues, Sept 7)
Pictured with the champion pen of 10 NEMSA Mule gimmer lambs are, from left, co-judge and buyer Claire Morris, sponsor Chris Pearson, exhibitor Ashley Caton and family, and co-judge Robert Fox.
There was total clearance of the 6,000-plus gimmer lambs forward, which sold at an overall average price of £91.79 per head, nigh on £20 a head higher than the £71.80 average at the corresponding fixture in 2009.
It was the fourth year in succession Ashley Caton had sent out the title-winning pen of ten. Recipients of both the Chester Kneller Memorial Trophy and Ciba Geigy Perpetual Trophy, they sold for £180 per head to co-judge Claire Morris, of Barnard Castle.
Pictured with the champion pen of 20 NEMSA Mule gimmer lambs are, from left, co-judge and buyer Ben Harvey, co-judge Peter Fawcett, sponsor Chris Pearson, and exhibitor Ashley Caton and family.
The triumphant pen of 20s, recipients of the second Ciba Geigy Perpetual Trophy, was knocked down for £135 a head to co-judge Ben Harvey, of Waxham, Norfolk.
Top price in the 10s at £190 each fell to the third prize pen from Joe and Nancy Throup, of Draughton, bought by Frank Brennand, Chapel-le-Dale.
In the 20s class, there were joint top prices of £145 per head for the second prize pen from 2009 champions Ellis Bros, of Addingham Moorside, and the third prize pen from David and Robin Booth, of WA & A Booth, Feizor, Austwick. They sold respectively to Richard and Mark Ireland, Whalley, and Brian Ridsdale, Penrith.
Back in the 10s, the second prize pen from John and Claire Mason, Embsay, also sold well at £155 each to JV Fox, Withgill, Clitheroe.
Skipton Auction Mart has long been recognised as the UK's leading venue for Mule sheep sales and the Skipton branch of NEMSA has been staging its twice-yearly gimmer lamb fixtures for 26 years.
Chairman Jeff Throup, of Silsden Moor, said: "It was a tremendous sale with exceptional quality. Trade was better than expected and everyone was highly delighted."
This year's opening fixture, sponsored by Pearson Farm Supplies, of West Marton, formed part of Craven Cattle Marts' series of 20th anniversary shows since it first moved to its current site.
There were special prizes for the best average selling price both up to and over 100 lambs. They went to Neil Heseltine, Malham, who sold 32 lambs to an average of £115.88, Joe and Nancy Throup, 68 lambs at £107.21, WA & A Booth, 134 lambs at £107.19, and Ashley Caton, 202 lambs at £99.91.
Winner of a sweepstake to correctly guess the overall average price on the day was Jim Caygill, of Rylstone.
The day was the first true test for Skipton's new electronic identification (EID) equipment, which, the mart reports, performed its task well.
The 2nd annual NEMSA Mule gimmer lambs show and sale takes place on Tuesday, September 21, with trophies again available for the champion pens of 10s and 20s.
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