THE honour of becoming the first prime lamb champion of the New Year fell to Kirkby Malham’s Jeff Burrow with a pen of five 41kg Texel-cross shown by Hayley Baines and picked out by judge Andrew Atkinson, of Felliscliffe, his choice later confirmed when they went on to sell for top call of £130 per head, or 317.1p/kg, to regular buyer Vivers Scotlamb in Annan.

The second prize 47kg Beltex-cross pen from Ellis Bros, of Addingham Moorside, sold for £115 to another regular wholesale buyer Hartshead Meat Co in Mossley, Greater Manchester, while the third prize 45kg pen from Gargrave’s Brian and Lisa Hall became another Vivers purchase at £117.

Airton’s John and Claire Wright stood both first and second in the Suffolk-cross show class with 51kg and 48kg pens both claimed by Andrew Atkinson at £101.50 and £95.50 respectively.

The red rosette-winning 47kg North of England Mules from M Ryder & Son, of Haverah Park, Harrogate, made £92.50, again to Vivers, the second prize winners from the Wilson family in Blubberhouses claimed by Darley’s Nick Dalby at £87.

Prime lamb trade at the 2020 opener set off with a real bang, the 3,868 hoggs selling to an overall average of 220.2p/kg (SQQ 226.6p). or £95.44 per head.

The Grindleton-based Towlers took top price per kilo at 320.5p, or £125 per head, with 39kg Beltex-cross consigned by James Towler. They were again purchased by Vivers.

Bolton-by-Bowland’s Paul Simpson produced a tremendous run of lambs, with five pens at 300p/kg or more, selling to a per head high of £123, with two further pens at £119 and his 94-strong run averaging a highly respectable 290.33p/kg.

The Towlers also had six pens of Continentals forward to average 271.2p/kg, while other sample prices saw DN&D Capstick, from Bolton-by-Bowland, consign 29 lambs to average 262p/kg, with further runs from the Great Harwood Eddlestons and the Ludendenfoot-based Hitchens averaging 272p/kg and 263p/kg. In total, 85 pens of lambs sold for in excess of 250p/kg.

In the lump, smart lambs were regularly £100 to £120, with Beltex-crosses averaging £111 per head, while heavier types were also good to sell, the 46-52kg bracket, which included a lot of the Mules, averaging 206p/kg and £101 per head, while the 52kg and above range averaged 196p/kg, or £107.77 per head.

Hill-bred lambs took a nice lift, the best Mules selling either side of 200p per kilo and the best horned lambs at 190-205p/kg. Cheviots averaged 222p’kg, with Lonks and Gritstones both topping £2 per kilo.

Also penned for sale were 331 cast sheep, which sold to a solid overall average of £93.91 - £92.66 for cull ewes and just over £116 for cast rams. The former were a notably sharp trade, good Continentals and Suffolks selling in the £120s, £130s and £140s, topping at £147.50 for Texels from JGE Heseltine & Son, of Bolton Abbey.

Nice sorts made £100-£115, while better Mules were mainly in the £90s, with the best sorts over £100 to a top of £107.50 from the Hewitts in Giggleswick. Hill-bred and horned ewes sold to £87.50, the better end generally making in the £70s or late £60s.