THE opening primestock shows and sales of 2019 at Skipton Auction Mart produced strong entries and solid trade across all classes on Monday.

There was a local championship success in the prime lamb exhibition arena for the Ellis Bros farming partnership from Cragg House Farm, Addingham Moorside. Represented by Rob Ellis, the family’s title-winning pen of five 44kg Beltex-cross lambs, a mix of pure and three-quarter-breds by Airyolland, Borderesk and home-bred tups, caught the eye of show judge George Cropper Jnr, who runs Sanderson’s Butchers in Manchester Road, Baxenden. He then transferred his interest to the ringside when claiming his chosen victors for the day’s top call of £142per head, or 322.7p/kg.

Mr Cropper Jnr, who was returning to the North Yorkshire mart after purchasing the high profile Christmas prime lamb champions for the first time late last year, took home three prime lamb pens in total, also including the third prize Beltex-cross pen from James Towler, of Grindleton, at £128. In the prime cattle show arena, there was a first-ever title win at Skipton for North Craven father and son hill farmers, Francis and Andrew Smith, of Lodge Farm, Masongill, above Ingleton near the Yorkshire-Lancashire border, who also picked up the reserve championship for good measure, both with Limousin-cross entries, bought in as sucklers and further improved and finished on the farm. Show judge Frank Wrathall, of Gisburn, tapped out the Smiths’ first prize 500kg heifer as overall champion, just pipping their red rosette-winning 580kg bullock, which stood reserve champion, with the principals joining two regular butcher buyers at Skipton.

The victor made £1,387, or a section-topping 277.5p/kg, when claimed by, Alan Beecroft, of Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop and Restaurant in Lancaster Leisure Park, though it was the overall runner-up that headed the gross prices at £1,482, or 255.5p/kg, falling to James Robertshaw, of Keelham Farm Shop, of Skipton and Thornton, purposely for the latter.

Back with the prime lambs, standing reserve champion was the second prize pen of 44kg Beltex-cross from Seth Blakey, of Bolton-by-Bowland, shown by his girlfriend Charlotte Townson. They sold for £117 each to Kitson and Sons Butchers for its four north-east shops. The Suffolk show class was won by John and Claire Wright, of Airton, with a 53kg pen claimed for a section-topping £95 per head by regular buyer Andrew Atkinson, of Felliscliffe, who also paid £88 for the third prize 46kg pen from Newark’s Steve Dorey.