The superb turnout of 3,203 prime sheep at Skipton Auction Mart’s latest weekly Monday sale featured vastly increased entries across all sections.

Spring lamb numbers again spiralled to a total of 923 head and trade was stronger than anticipated when producing a solid overall selling average of £110.16 per head, or 270.11p/kg, with an SQQ average of 272.1p/kg for lambs up to 45kg.

Cowan Bridge husband and wife, Brian and Anita Coates, were top performers per kilo with single Texel-crosses at 370.6p and 341.2p, both claimed by retail butcher Anthony Swales for his Knavesmire Butchers in Albermarle Road, York. They were among several high price acquisitions.

Per head prices peaked at £134 for a Suffolk trio from Steeton’s Mark Evans, these claimed by Kendalls Farm Butchers for its shops in Pateley Bridge and Harrogate. The same vendor also caught the eye with three more pens at £129, two at £126 and another at £125.

In fact, of the 180 lots of Spring lambs forward, only 26 sold under 250p/kg, clearly representing the strength of the trade. Nice skinned, well fleshed lambs weighing 38-43kg were regularly away at 270-290p/kg, with commercial types also good to cash.

Always one of the more noted runs at this time of year is a large consignment of Suffolk-x-Mules from Anthony Bolland in Bolton Abbey and his 90 head, well drawn and like peas in a pod, sold extremely well to average £107.59 per head, or 270.56p/kg, across an average weight range of 39.77kg.

A bigger entry of 1,672 hoggs were a mixture of large runs of good fed types direct off winter keep, together with end of season runs of mixed sorts. They levelled at £101.45 per head, or 210.5p/kg, for prime hoggs, with 218 mature hoggs among them a much better trade on the week when averaging £91.72.

One of the best runs of hoggs came from Skinner Bros in Leicestershire, with their heavy Continental crosses mainly achieving from £115 to a top of £121. Top price hoggs at £128 were Beltex from Taylor Bros in Tosside, selling to Halifax wholesalers J&E Medcalf.

Heavy sheep were good to sell all day long, while handy weights were short of requirements and were easily sold to an increased attendance of buyers.

The cast section also attracted an increased entry of 608 head, comprising 538 cull ewes, 16 rams, 13 wethers and 41 goats.

Heavy well-bred ewes did best, looking slightly dearer on the week and selling to a top of £141.50 for a single Texel from Elizabeth Gudgeon, of Embsay, bought by Yorkshire Halal Meats in Keighley.

North of England Mules with strong meat got away well past £80, with just the lighter end making mid-£70s. With another active ringside, heavy best-bred ewes were still short of requirements. Cull ewes averaged £72.85 and cast rams £73.53.

Goat trade remained very firm, the entry averaging £62.26, with a top price of £80.50.

In the prime cattle ring, the 11 under 30-month entries from regular regional vendors again displayed the quality required by the retail butchery sector and it was Skipton-based Keelham Farm Shop which again had the largest shopping basket with four acquisitions.

Among them were the top priced animal, a British Blue-cross heifer from Charles and Richard Kitching in Threshfield at £1,443, or 242.5p/kg, followed by the top gross price steer, another Blue-cross from the Critchley family in Hutton at £1,339, or 243.5p/kg, The Critchleys also consigned the top priced steer by weight, a 565kg Blue-cross, which made 245.5p/kg to Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop in Lancaster.

Responsible for the overall top price by weight of 246.5p/kg (£1,208 gross) was John Fawcett, of Barden, with a 490kg Limousin-cross heifer that was one of two purchases by Ellison’s Butchers in Cullingworth, with, George Cropper Jnr also buying a brace for his Sanderson’s Butchers in Baxenden.

Cull cow trade is stepping up to a new level, with weight amongst the dairies producing top calls of £1,101, or 123.5p/kg for black and whites from, respectively, Geoff and Margaret Booth, from Lothersdale, and Cowling’s Martyn Jennings.

Beef-bred entries sold to a top of £1,272, or 140.5p/kg, for a first cross British Blue suckler cull again from the Booths. At the same trade level, black and white steaking cows made 118.5p/kg and plains were 100p/kg or thereabouts.

The overall selling average for the 19 head forward was £812.33 per head, or 116.84p/kg, another major improvement on the previous week’s £679.14, or 107.67p/kg.

Flying trade was seen for the 56 rearing calves on offer, with prices peaking at £440 for a Simmental bull from J Fisher, of Goosnargh.

Limousin heifer calves looked the trade of the day, averaging £388 and topping at £410 for a heifer from David Pickersgill, of Guiseley. British Blue-cross youngsters were in demand as usual, bulls selling to £385 and heifers to £350, with respective section averages of £292 and £295.

Of the natives, Aberdeen-Angus bulls again did best, selling to £290 and averaging £263. Black and white calves were serious money, bulls selling to a top of £200 for one of four at £130 upwards from Edward Fort, of Silsden Moor, with a solid section average of £163.