BREEDING sheep numbers soared at Skipton Auction Mart’s Monday bank holiday fixture, with a total of 861 ewes and lambs penned for sale, and two show classes providing added interest for vendors.

Richard Umpleby, of Killinghall, returned from judging the same day’s rearing calf show to learn that his pen of nine Texel-cross shearlings, all bought as hoggs at Skipton last year and returning with twin lambs, had won the Continental show class, later selling for £195 per outfit to WE Garbutt and Sons, of Bridlington.

Ian Manning, from Worthenbury, Wrexham, landed the red rosette in the Mule show class with a pen of five gimmer hoggs bought at a Skipton NEMSA highlight last September from well-known local breeders Ashley and Rachael Caton, of Otterburn, Returning with single Texel-cross lambs at foot, they sold £190 per outfit. The same vendor also sold a second pen of Texel hoggs with single lambs at section-topping £210 per outfit.

The Skipton sale ring was packed with customers looking for sheep, with plenty of buyers for the increasing numbers of younger ewes and hoggs with lambs at foot now starting to come forward, while older ewes with strong lambs were keenly sought as usual.

The best of the Mule hoggs with singles regularly achieved £200-plus, with 36 outfits averaging £195.97and peaking at £210 per outfit for a pen from Haverah Park father and son, Raymond and Robert Johnson, while Mule shearlings with twins did best of all when selling to a day’s high of £218 per outfit, these from Malcolm Gratton, of Warsill.

David Smith, of Sutton-in-Craven, also caught the eye with his Texel entries, achieving two section highs with correct shearling ewes with twin lambs at £215 and others with twins at £210. Show classes were judged by Carmarthenshire’s Hywell Williams.

Almost 2,500 prime sheep were also sold on a hectic day, producing a very sharp trade in all departments, notably for the 31 Spring lambs, which were markedly dearer on the week when averaging £121.14 per head, or 298.62p/kg, overall.

Regular vendor Robert Towers, of Camp House Farm, Farleton, Lancaster, produced another great run of Charollais lambs, which all sold well, topping at £132 twice, with both pens selling to Countrystyle Meats Farm shop in Lancaster.