RIBBLE Valley father and son sheep farmers, Richard and Mark Ireland, of Heys Farm, Whalley, warmed up for another tilt at Skipton Auction Mart’s high profile Christmas primestock fixture next month when sending out the prime lamb champions at the November show and sale.

They secured the title with a pen of five lambs by their highly regarded stock tup, Shamrock Beast, the first ram they bred in their pedigree Beltex flock, established four years ago.

The 43kg victors sold for the day’s leading per head price of £116, or 269.8p/kg, to Vivers Scotlamb in Annan, the by-weight price topped at 272.5p/kg, or £109, for another pair of 40kg lambs from the same home, also claimed by Vivers.

In 2017, the Irelands landed their first-ever festive prime lamb supreme championship at Skipton with lambs by Shamrock Beast and they will return with more of his progeny for this year’s annual highlight on Sunday, December 1.

Back at this month’s show, DN&D Capstick, of Bolton-by-Bowland, finished second and third in the Continental- x class with a pair of 45kg Beltex-x pens. The second prize winners, also reserve champions, sold for £111 each to Hartshead Meats in Mossley, Greater Manchester, the others at £110 to show judge Mick Etherington, of Eldwick, purchasing on behalf of Kitson & Sons Butchers for its north-east shops.

John and Claire Wright, of Airton, stood first and third in the Down-cross show class with 54kg and 51kg pens, the 48kg runners-up coming from the Hartley family in Beamsley. All the prize winners fell at £86, £81 and £84 per head respectively to Felliscliffe’s Andrew Atkinson, buying on behalf of Welsh wholesaler Farmers Fresh. Mr Atkinson also went to £75 to claim the first prize 50kg pen of North of England Mules presented by NEMSA’s national chairman, Kevin Wilson, of Blubberhouses.

The 2,752 prime lambs penned for sale sold to a much increased trade and were generally £5-£6 per head dearer on the week when achieving an overall selling average of £81.08, or 180.12p/kg.