2014-02-24   facebook twitter rss

Craven Champions Day - One of Best Ever

Craven Champions Day, Skipton Auction Mart’s annual show and sale of commercial store cattle with future show potential, proved one of the best on record, attracting an increased entry of 65 up-and-coming bullocks and heifers, with all prize winners achieving four-figure selling prices at an overall average of £1,406.81 per head, a marked improvement on the previous year’s £1,240. (Wed, Feb 19)

The Akrigg family, of Manor Farm, Cray – father Chris and his three sons Tom, John and Will – once again had a field day at a fixture that has proved a happy hunting ground for them in past years when clinching both the male and female championship, with the latter, the first prize British Blue-sired heifer, progressing to land the supreme championship, their fourth Craven Champions Day title.

Co-judges Annie Turnbull, left, and Lucy Corner check out the Akriggs’ Craven Champions Day female and male champions, handled by Tom Akrigg and Emily Carr. The heifer went on to become supreme champion.

Co-judges Annie Turnbull, left, and Lucy Corner check out the Akriggs’ Craven Champions Day female and male champions, handled by Tom Akrigg and Emily Carr. The heifer went on to become supreme champion.

Responsibility for the breeding and preparation of their latest eight-month-old title winner can be put down to John Akrigg, who also works for rural, commercial and residential property consultants Windle Beech Winthrop, based at the auction mart.

The victor, shown by John’s brother Tom, is by Dragon Blues Dennis, a Welsh-bred sire bought purposely for show calf production. Out of a Limousin-x-British Blue cow, the supreme champion sold for a show-topping £2,600, well excelling the £1,750 top price achieved by the family with another British Blue-cross heifer at last year’s corresponding fixture.

The 2014 principal was knocked down to Richard Sandham, of Town End Farm, Carlton, Yeadon, buying on behalf of his 12-year-old daughter Holly. The up-and-coming young farmer, a pupil a Guiseley Secondary School, said she had been saving up to buy what is her first cow.

She now plans to parade her Skipton champion on the local show circuit, hoping to emulate past leading performers at the fixture, which have gone on to perform with credit in the agricultural show arena. The heifer will then be put to the Sandham family’s Limousin stock bull, hopefully producing future show stock.

The supreme champion became the first recipient of the Jack Walker Trophy, presented by son Jeff in memory of his late father, who died last Christmas. He was a familiar face at Skipton Auction Mart, notably around the cattle sales ring, and the Walker family, from Brennand Farm, Dunsop Bridge, are also four-times winners of the Craven Champions Day title.

They went close again this year when sending out the reserve supreme champion, the first prize winner in the young handlers show class, another top-notch British Blue-sired heifer shown by 19-year-old Rob Walker.

A well-bred daughter of the Walkers’ own Bluegrass Cyclone, who was also responsible for Clitheroe-based Ian Townson’s 2013 Craven Champions Day title winner, the reserve champion, out of a British Blue-cross cow, sold for £1,500 to the Turnbull farming family in Coxwold, near York, one of whom, Annie Turnbull, co-judged the show with pedigree Blonde breeder Lucy Corner, of Darlington.

Turning to the bovine boys, the Akriggs landed the male championship with their first prize British Blue-sired bullock, shown by Tom’s partner Emily Carr, who also works for Windle Beech Winthrop. The nine-month-old son of the AI sire Eternel was also responsible for Akriggs’ 2013 top price achiever and their 2012 title winner.

Out of a three-quarters bred Limousin cow, the bullock found a new home with Clive Delamore, of Delamore Farms in Terrington St Clement, Norfolk, for £2,000. He has also bought a previous Akrigg Craven Champions Day champion.

The family picked up a third red rosette with the first prize any breed bullock, another British Blue-cross, sold for £1,120 to Lincolnshire buyers P&B Hodgson & Son, of Boston. They also had the second prize British Blue-sired heifer, which became a £1,500 acquisition by M Keel, of Thirsk.

There were also further successes for the Walker family, who sent out the second prize British Blue-sired bullock, sold to Stephen Eastwood of Emley, Huddersfield, for £1,420, along with the third prize any breed heifer, again a British Blue-cross knocked down for £1,290 to Thompson Bros in Pickering, represented by Les Thompson.

Show regulars David and Linda Broadbent, of Midgley, Halifax, stepped up with the first prize Limousin-sired heifer, which made £1,480 on joining Richard Critchley, of Hutton, Preston, and the second prize any other breed heifer, acquired for £1,040 by A Kaye in Dunford Bridge, Sheffield.

Another red rosette fell to the first prize Charolais-sired bullock from Clapham’s Sheila Mason, the reigning breeding and store cattle champion in Craven Cattle Marts’ Farmer of the Year awards, who also sent out the third prize British Blue-sired heifer. Both sold to the same buyer, GD Nutt, of Thirtleby, Hull, at £1,660 and £1,340 respectively.

Stephen Fawcett, of Barden, was also prominent when achieving £2,000 with his second prize Limousin-sired heifer, bought locally by Skipton’s N Tiffin.

Stephen Eastwood, a regular buyer at Skipton, also snapped up three further prizewinners – the first prize any breed heifer, a British Blue-cross from John Butler, of Rochdale, at £1,180, the first prize any breed bullock, an Aberdeen Angus from J Walsh, of Bury, at £1,210, and the second prize winner in the young handlers show class, a British Blue-sired heifer from AM&E Hartley, of Roughlee, Nelson, for £1,310.

Thompson Bros. also bought three more award winners – the second prize any breed heifer, another British Blue-cross from John Butler at £1,330, the second prize any breed bullock, a British Blue-cross again from TWH Farming in Easingwold for £1,260, and the first prize any other breed heifer, a Blonde-cross from Saddle End Farms in Chipping at £1,200.

Show sponsors were Huddersfield-based agricultural agent and CCM field officer Janet Sheard, West Marton fencing contractor Bob Lancaster, Carrs Billington and Top Tags Animal ID.

Commercial stores strong
Craven Champions Day formed part of Skipton’s fortnightly Wednesday cattle sale, which attracted 836 head in total, with commercial store cattle and other premium entries highly sought after and prices showing an improvement on the fortnight.

In fact, strong cattle were noticeably dearer, with regular customers all appearing keener and several more travelled buyers, many from Lincolnshire and further down the Eastern counties, attracted by the larger numbers on offer at Skipton, giving them an unrivalled choice.

The 312 young feeding bulls were a shade easier on the fortnight, though buyers were prepared to compete strongly for the nine to ten-month premium bulls in forward condition. They sold to an overall Continental-cross average of £857.94, with a dairy average of £620.50.

H&S Maudsley, of Rathmell, and EW&JR Parkinson, of Dunsop Bridge, presented the joint top price British Blue-cross young bulls at £1,300 – the former the highest priced animal under 12-months-old, the latter heading the 13 to 17-month prices, with respective age range selling averages of £852.73 and £912.93. The top price pen of three Limousin-cross bulls from SJ Burton, of Fellbeck, Pateley Bridge, each made £1,130.

A total of 429 bullocks and heifers were consigned for sale, with the former selling to an overall Continental-cross average of £1,068.64 per head and a native average of £853.22. Younger cattle were notably good to sell, with the two top-priced pens of three of more bullocks from Joe Drinkall, of Anglezarke, and Roland Carr, of Addingham, only 10-11months old. Mr Drinkall’s four Charolais-cross sold for £1,020 per head, while four Limousin-cross from Mr Carr each made £980.

Heifers were also in strong demand, as buyers sought to keep sheds topped up, selling to a Continental-cross average of £977.75 each and a native average of £820.10. Austwick’s James and Deborah Ogden presented the two top price pens – three Limousin-cross each sold for £1,170 and a same breed pen of five that made £1,045 per head.

Findlay dispersal popular
The day also featured a full dispersal sale of commercial beef breeding cattle on behalf of David Findlay, of Bird Ridding Farm, Coverham, Middleham.

The mixed herd had been developed with both care and pride over the past 11 years by Mr Findlay and the sale, which comprised 47 outfits and two stock bulls, attracted a packed ringside, with 29 buyers drawn from the throughout the North of England, along with a large consignment from Lincolnshire. It gave them the opportunity to secure BVD vaccinated, scanned low maintenance cows.

Topping the sale at £3,500 was a home-bred four-year-old British Blue stock bull, which joined John Corlett in Cockermouth, with the top-priced female a British Blue-cross cow with Charolais bull calf at £1,580.

In fact, all breeds sold to four-figure highs and there was particularly strong trade for Herefords, with in-calf Hereford cows, run with both Charolais and British Blue bulls, the majority fourth calvers and above, selling to a top of £1,400 at an overall average of £1,223.

A Charolais stock bull made £1,500, while in-calf British Blue-cross cows also sold to £1,400 at an average of £1,304.

Mr Findlay, a regular customer at Skipton, has almost finished lambing 50 pure Beltex ewes and farms a further 450 Cheviot and Continental-cross ewes.

There was a 94-strong turnout of breeding cattle on the day, with a top price of £1,700 falling to a British Blue-cross in-calf heifer (av £1,322), closely followed at £1,650 by a Limousin-cross cow with Limousin-cross heifer calf. Aberdeen Angus in-calf heifers sold to a high of £1,160, with an average of £1,050.

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