Mule sheep prices were outstanding at the big opening seasonal highlight for Mule ewe lambs at Skipton Auction Mart, on Tuesday. (Sept 6)
Pictured with the champion pen of 10 NEMSA Mule gimmer lambs are, from left, John and Rob Walker, co-judges Brian Ridsdale and Frank Brennand, sponsor Chris Pearson and son John, and Geoff Walker.
The overall average selling price of the 6,235 gimmer lambs presented by members of the North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA) was £120.51 per head, almost £29 per head higher than the corresponding fixture last year, which was itself nigh on £20 a head more than the 2009 sale.
Prices peaked at £245 per head, with the scene for a day of outstanding trade set at the very outset when the first pen of lambs into the ring were knocked down for £134 a head. A total of 26 pens sold at £150 each or more. General trade for tupping lambs was £130 to £150, medium lambs £120 to £130 and running lambs £108 to £120.
Just six pens of lambs sold for under £100 a head throughout the entire day, though Skipton Auction Mart’s livestock sales manager and auctioneer Ted Ogden pointed out: “Buyers were able to source sheep to fit their budgets, with many of the high priced pens remaining in the local area, reflected by all livestock being loaded and away from the mart by 5.30pm.”
Many people felt it was the best-ever trade since NEMSA first began staging its annual fixtures at Skipton 27 years ago, certainly the highest since the mart moved to its current edge of town site in 1990, and quite probably in its entire 120 year-plus history.
With over 20 pens of ten in the show classes, the champions were shown by Geoff Walker, of JW Walker & Son, Brennand Farm, Dunsop Bridge, selling at £222 each to Martin and Val Brown, of Beechwood House Farm, Newton-le-Willows, Bedale.
The Walker farming family was over the moon with its first-ever Skipton NEMSA championship success, for which they received both the Chester Kneller Memorial Trophy and Ciba Geigy Perpetual Trophy. It’s a title they’ve been trying to win for a number of years, having finished sixth in the past two years.
Their 2011 victors will be put to Beltex rams by the Browns, who specialise in the breed. Chances are many of their prime lambs offspring will return to be sold at Skipton next year.
Top price honours in both the 10s and the entire show at £245 per head fell to the second prize pen from Mules maestros Ashley and Rachel Caton, of Otterburn Lodge Farm, Otterburn, who narrowly missed out on a fifth successive championship coup. The buyer was Joe Jackson, from Lancashire, who turns 90 next year and says he will be training sheep dogs on his new acquisitions.
However, the Catons retained the title and Ciba Geigy Perpetual Trophy when again crowned champions in the show classes for 20 Mules, 11 pens in total. Their victors again headed the prices at £185 each when joining Claire Morris, of Barnard Castle.
Skipton branch NEMSA chairman Jeff Throup, of Silsden Moor, said: “Selling prices were above and beyond what we expected as breeders. We were highly delighted. I have never seen a show with so much quality right down the line and I can’t recall seeing the Skipton ringside so busy since our inaugural sale at the new mart in 1990.
“There is a general shortage of breeding sheep throughout the country and our opening fixture clearly illustrates the huge interest in breeding sheep at this moment in time, especially Mule gimmers.
“Craven Cattle Marts helped us to put on an excellent show. Skipton must be one of the best marts in the north of England in terms of facilities. The weather was horrendous, but everything being under cover helped tremendously.”
Results and selling prices: Pens of 10 – 1 JW Walker & Son, Dunsop Bridge, £222 to AM&HV Brown, Bedale, 2 AV Caton, Otterburn, £245, 3 I&M Lancaster, Pendleton, £192, 4 KM&L Throup, Silsden Moor, £175, 5 JC Throup, Silsden Moor, £185, 6 AJ Mason, Embsay, £215
Pens of 20 – 1 AV Caton, Otterburn, £185 to C Morris, Barnard Castle, 2 WA&A Booth, Feizor, £175, 3 WP Sutcliffe, Horton in Ribblesdale, £150, 4 AJ Mason, Embsay, £165, 5 KM&L Throup, £162, 6 KA&HL Fawcett & Son, Barden, £172.
There were Craven Cattle Marts cash prizes for the best flock averages both up to and over 100 lambs. The leading exhibitors, numbers sold and prices were:
100 lambs or more - AV Caton, Otterburn, 141 lambs at an average £141.72, WA&A Booth, Feizor, 140 av £135.56, KA&HL Fawcett & Son, Barden, 114 av £134.25, AJ Mason, Embsay, 203 av £128.77, JA Throup, Silsden Moor, 103 av £128.08, KM&L Throup, Silsden Moor, 277 av £127.44.
Under 100 lambs - I&M Lancaster, Pendleton, 20 av £158.50, JC&N Throup, Draughton, 72 av £136.22, JC Walker & Son, Dunsop Bridge, 80 av £132.88, R Berry, Cowling, 49 av £129.25, N Heseltine, Malhamdale, 42 av £129.24, ASE Crisp & Son, Calton, 80 av £128.45.
This year’s opening fixture was again sponsored by Pearson Farm Supplies, of West Marton. Judges were: 10s - Brian Ridsdale, Penrith, and Frank Brennand, Ingleton. 20s - James Ogden, Austwick and Richard Ireland, Whalley.
Winner of a sweepstake to correctly guess the overall average price on the day was John Carlisle, of Cracoe, whose suggestion that the £113 proceeds should go to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance was approved by the organisers.
NEMSA members are hoping that exceptional trading levels will be maintained for their second annual show and sale on Tuesday, September 20.
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