As in 2011, Mr Cropper lifted the title with the first prize shearling ewe and female champion Woodies Ringtone, from his noted Baxenden-based Hudhey pedigree flock.
By Ardstewart Party Politics, bred in Aberdeenshire by Stuart Wood and acquired by Mr Cropper last year, the February, 2011-born victor, who stood sixth in class at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show, was described by the exhibitor as “the best giggot ever in my flock.” She sold for 2,200gns (£2,310) when returning to Stuart Wood’s Woodies flock.
The new Skipton record price Beltex – Mr Cropper also established the then record of 3,700gns (£3,875) at last year’s fixture – was a home-bred March, 2011-born shearling ram, Hudhey Rockafella ET.
He is a full brother to Mr Cropper’s 2012 Beltex progeny show champion, being by Borderesk Leap Frog, a product of Anne Story’s flock at Hobbiesburn, Longtown, Carlisle, out of the Clary Kaiser Chief daughter Beachy Lovely Lass.
The ram became a valuable addition to the Meadowside pedigree Beltex flock of Sean Forshaw at Bolton Fold Farm in Longridge, Preston. The dairy farming family milk 300 pedigree Holstein Friesian cows and Mr Forshaw began breeding Beltex two years ago. The Skipton top price is his third quality ram and he is now looking forward to some top-class progeny from his 25 ewes.
Mr Cropper, a partner in George Cropper Butchers in Accrington Market – he runs the business with his father, also named George - has been breeding Beltex sheep for five years. He was also reserve champion at the 2010 Skipton fixture.
Represented on the day by three shearling rams and five shearling ewes, Mr Cropper also sold a shearling gimmer at 1,900gns and a shearling ram at 1,000gns.
This year’s reserve championship fell to the first prize shearling ram and male champion from the Skelton Whin flock of Thomas and Judith Hunter, of New Town Farm, Hunmanby, Filey. Skelton Whin Randy Bishop, born in February last year, is by the Rathbone Leader son Beautry Morfin, bought as a lamb at Skipton from local breeder Stuart Currie, of Rathmell.
He has performed well for the Hunters and was responsible for all but one of their ten shearling rams offered for sale at Skipton this year. The runner-up, new to the show ring, sold for 1,120gns to show judge David Wadland - he and his wife Linda breed commercial Beltex show lambs at Aston le Walls in Northamptonshire and are the reigning Smithfield Festival butchers prime lamb champions.
The Hunters were also responsible the second prize and top price ram lamb, the February-born Skelton Whin Shaun, sold for 1,400gns to James Little, of Mayfield, Thursby. They also sold further entries at 1,120gns - the third prize shearling ram - 850gns and 800gns.
The second prize shearling ram and reserve male champion was presented by Cecil and Hilda Hutchinson of Brickyard Farm, Kirby Wiske, Thirsk. The 18-month-old Wiskers Rouer, by Buckles Pendulum, bred in Cumbria by Beltex Society secretary Rachel Buckle, made 1,000gns when joining John and Jean Bradley, of Penny Grange, Giggleswick.
Reserve female champion was the second prize shearling ewe from the Northern Beltex flock of David and Diane Findlay, of Birdridding Farm, Coverham, Leyburn. The home-bred daughter of Northern Beltex Prince Albert – the dam is a daughter of the renowned Burnside Jethro - sold for 840gns to John Howieson, of Luxborough Lodge, Watchet, Somerset .
Another strong turnout of 218 head of pedigree Beltex saw a total of 12 entries sell at four figure sums, among them three shearling rams from South Yorkshire breeders John and Elaine Hedley, of Red Myle Farm, Thorne, Doncaster, at 1,600gns, 1,300gns and 1,250gns. Rathmell’s Stuart Currie also achieved 1,100gns and 1,000gns for shearling rams.
First prize in the aged ram class fell to the Wilson Wood flock of Cumbrian breeders Ian Wilson and Carol Wood, of Low Flan Farm, Mansriggs, Ulverston. The three-shear Holmbeck Napoleon ET, bred by P & A Moss in Rokeby, joined J Whitton, of Spaldington, Goole, for 680gns.
The best of the aged ewes both came from the Bonstone Beltex holding of Brian Breaks, of Newlaithe Farm, Newton in Bowland, Clitheroe. The four-shear red rosette winner joined Frank Joel in Westhouse for 315gns, with the three-shear runner-up selling locally for the same price to RD Riley, of Flasby. Both prizewinners were by sires from Neale and Janet McQuistin’s Scottish-based Airyolland flock in Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, as were Mr Breaks’ second and third prize aged rams.
A further Airyolland tup was also responsible for the first prize ram lamb from the Sharphaw flock of local exhibitor William Beckwith, of Holme House Farm, Gargrave. The March-born Sharphaw Samson proved strong when selling for 950gns to Joe and Trevor Stoney, of Pateley Bridge. Mr Beckwith was himself in action at the ringside when paying 280gns for the first prize March-born gimmer lamb from the Rathbone flock of North Craven vendor Michael Davis, of Eldroth.
Shearling rams averaged £623.17, compared to £492.32 in 2011, while shearling ewes were also strong to average £409.86, well up on last year’s £360.13, as too were ram lambs at £426.85, compared to last year’s £335.05. Gimmer lambs averaged £236.25, against £213.04 in 2011. Older sheep were easier on the year at £462 for aged rams (£546 in 2011) and aged ewes £246 (£321).
Beltex Society chairman Mark Jennings, of Crakehall, Selside, Kendal, whose sold a shearling ram at 900gns and was also responsible for the third prize shearling gimmer, knocked down for 520gns to A Jenkinson, of Langbar, commented positively on the continuing success of both the society and breed.
He said: “The society is in good heart, with a record number of members across the UK, while Beltex lambs remain extremely popular among butchers for their excellent killing out percentage and meat to bone ratio.”
Show results, prices and buyers were: Aged ram – 1 I Wilson & C Wood, Mansriggs, 680gns to J Whitton, 2&3 BT Breaks, Newton in Bowland, 240gns to DP Mitchell, and 400gns to F Sunderland. Shearling Ram – 1 and reserve supreme champion T&J Hunter, Hunmanby, 1,120gns to DS & LE Wadland, Aston le Walls, 2 and reserve male champion AC & SA Hutchinson, Kirby Wiske, 1,000gns to J & JE Bradley, 3 T&J Hunter, 1,120gns
Aged ewe – 1 & 2 BT Breaks, both 315gns to F Joel and RD Riley. Shearling gimmer – 1 female and supreme champion G Cropper, Baxenden, 2,200gns to S Wood, 2 and reserve female champion D Findlay, Coverdale, 840gns to J Howieson, 3 M Jennings, Crakehall, 520gns to A Jenkinson. Gimmer lamb – 1 MR & JE Davis, Eldroth, 280gns to WG Beckwith, 2 JA Bailey, Bedale, 120gns to SR Bennett, 3 B&F Staveley, Clapham.
Chris Windle, of Skipton-based Windle Beech Winthrop Surveyors, presented a £100 cash prize to the supreme champion, while the reserve supreme champion received £50 from JG Animal Health.
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