PRIME sheep numbers saw an anticipated sharp increase for the time of year, totalling 3,647 head at Skipton Auction Mart’s opening July fixture, which incorporated the monthly show for spring lambs.

Trade for the 2,878 lambs on parade was also in line with expectations when producing an overall selling average of £80.25 per head, or 196.04p/kg, with the best lambs dearer on the week and selling to a by-weight high of 277.8p/kg, or £100 per head, for the champion pen of five 36kg Beltex-cross from father and son Richard and Mark Ireland, of Heys Farm, Whalley.

The title winners sold to Hellifield’s Paul Watson. The same vendors also made 262p/kg, or £105 per head, with a further pen.

The second prize pen of 36kg Texel-cross from Mike Allen, of Staithes, made £103 per head, or 250p/kg, when falling to Andrew Atkinson, of Felliscliffe, buying on behalf of one of his regular customers, wholesaler Hartshead Meats in Mossley, Ashton-under-Lyne.

Mr Atkinson also paid £92 per head, or 204p/kg, for the first prize pen of Suffolk-cross lambs from James Earnshaw, of Flasby. These were for West Scottish Lamb.

The third prize 41kg Continental pen from Tim Robinson, of Longridge, made £90 each, or 219.5p/kg, when joining regular buyers Vivers Scotlamb in Annan.

Fox Farms in Clitheroe achieved 261p/kg with a Beltex pen, while John Turner, of Draughton, led the Texel prices at £107 per head, with Andrew Taylor, of Broughton, next best at £105. Mr Turner also had the top price £96 per head Charollais pen.

Tony Kiernan, of Longridge, achieved £104, £103 and £101 per head with both Beltex and Texel pens, while Geoff and Margaret Booth, of Lothersdale, also sold Texel lambs to £101 each.

* Store lambs are set to make their seasonal debut at Skipton Auction Mart on Wednesday for the high profile opening show and sale.

Last year’s entry topped 4,000 head, a massive increase on the previous year, and auctioneers are this year anticipating a similar showing.

The second store lamb sale follows a fortnight later on Wednesday, July 27, incorporating the annual show for pens of 50 Suffolk-cross lambs, with entrants once more competing for the Robert Morphet Memorial Trophy. The day also features a special sale of early breeding ewes.