DALES sheep farmer Owain Chapman achieved his first major success at his local Skipton Auction Mart when consigning the first prize Continental pen at the latest fortnightly Wednesday store lamb fixture.

Mr Chapman, who farms with his partner Jenny Dolphin at Inmans Farm, Skyreholme, said he had been trying for seven or eight years to win the annual gimmer lamb showcase and while having picked up tickets in the past this was his first triumph.

He finally came up trumps with a pen of ten home-bred three-quarters Texel lambs by a Blackburn-based Lucas & Nairey tup bought last year at Skipton’s main two-day pedigree Texel show and sale. The 2019 breed highlight on Thursday and Friday, September 19 & 20, is fast approaching.

Some of the lambs were out of first prize-winning Texels bought at Skipton’s opening gimmer shearlings sale last August from the Coverdale family in Beckwithshaw. Mr Chapman also claimed this year’s red rosette winners from the same home.

He currently has some 50 Texel breeding ewes at home, plus 100 Swaledale ewes, which go to the Bluefaced Leicester tup to produce North of England Mules. The victorious Texel pen achieved a sale high of £146 per head when claimed by Alan Middleton on behalf of the Beamsley-based Hartley family.

There was another inaugural win at the fixture for mart regular, Robert Metcalfe, from Brearton, who landed the Suffolk gimmer lamb show class with his pen of ten crosses, some by Skipton-bought tups, all out of North of England Mules, of which he has 800 on the ground, along with 350 Swaledale ewes. The red rosette winners sold for £105 each, top price in class, to D&A Livestock in Haverah Park, Harrogate.

Masham wether lambs were again out in force and the annual prize show for pens of 40 or more fell for an unprecedented fourth year in succession to another Dales sheep farmer, Paul Lister, of K Lister & Sons, from Kiln Hall, Kettlewell, the family again retaining the Craven Cattle Marts Cup.

The 50-strong pen of home-breds, by a selection of Teeswater tups, out of Dalesbred ewes – the Listers run a flock of 800 - sold for a class-topping £61.50 per head to judge Andrew Hutchinson, from Faceby.

Back with the Continentals, the third prize pen from Easingwold’s Ken and Hazel Gamble sold for a solid £120 per head, with the couple also topping the Beltex gimmer lamb prices with a £100 pen.

The show classes were again sponsored by Top Tags Animal ID.

They formed part of Skipton’s fortnightly Wednesday store sheep sale, which attracted another massive turnout of 8,685 head and sold to a packed ringside throughout, achieving an overall average of £65.23 per head, an improvement on last year’s £63.44.