PRIME cattle trade at Skipton Auction Mart on Monday remained indicative of a very strong retail demand and the mart says it is clear the ‘Eat Out to Help Out Scheme’ has certainly lifted the catering trade, with steak high up the list of top eating out sales.

The 21 under 30-month clean cattle from regular vendors saw steers average 253p/kg and heifers 234p/kg, with James Robertshaw claiming both top price by-weight entries, a 550kg British Blue-cross heifer from the Critchley family in Hutton at 263.5p/kg (£1,449) and a 560kg Limousin-cross steer from the Threshfield-based Kitching brothers for 261.5p/kg (£1,464). The former was among buys for Keelham Farm Shop in Skipton, the latter among purchases for the weekly buyer’s own Robertshaw’s Farm Shop in Thornton.

At the slightly heavier end of the market, again leading the gross prices was primestock buyer Mick Etherington, of Eldwick, with two 600kg and 610kg Limousin-cross heifers from the Kitching pen at £1,551 (258.5p/kg) and £1,546 (253.5p/kg). Keelham accounted for the top gross price 585kg Limousin-cross steer from Clapham’s Jonathan Townley at £1,506 (257.5p/kg).

An increased number of beef cows among the 26 cull cows - the dairy entry was mixed and a shade easier - helped maintain the overall selling average at £829.45 per head, or 128.06p/kg. A young black and white from Jeremy Taylor in Broughton topped the section at 152.5p/kg, or £1,014, with beef cows peaking at 162.5p/kg, or £1,032, for a red Limousin, with a heavy 845kg Limousin-cross cow netting £1,111 and a single Parthanais mature bull £1,517, or 149.5p/kg.

Earlier, 62 rearing calves traded to a high of £470 for a Limousin-cross bull from G Pickersgill & Sons in Guiseley, closely followed at £465 by a British Blue-cross bull calf from the Sowray family in Bishop Thornton.

Native youngsters, while on the small/medium side, sold to a very active audience, with a new buyer ringside, Aberdeen-Angus bulls averaging £285 and heifers £183. Black and whites did well, averaging £115 overall, with a top of £215 again from the Pickersgills.

A much larger turnout of just over 4,000 prime sheep saw 3,519 Spring lambs again achieve total clearance at an overall selling average of 210.4p/kg, or £88.70 per head.

Trade was said to be two-tier, though easily summed up by the weight grades, with 439 lambs scaling 46-52kg levelling at 217.2p/kg, or £103 per head, against 2,984 in the 36-45kg bracket at 209.5p/kg, or £87. Although these prices were down on the week by some margin, averages were still 24p/kg in front of those seen the corresponding week last year.

At the top end of the scale, six pens sold in the £130s to a high of £139, or 308p/kg, for a Beltex-cross pen from John Marshall in Dacre, which were among several purchases by Brayton Farm Shop, near Selby. Other purchasers included both Robertshaw’s and Keelham Farm Shops, and Swaledale Foods in Skipton.

With almost 500 cull ewes penned for sale, the 166 North of England Mules among them sold to a much faster trade for all types and to highs of £96.50 for big framed sorts and £80-plus for heavy meated types.

A total of 123 white-faced ewes were keenly contested, Beltex ewes topping the trade at £152.50, again from John Marshall, with an overall breed average of £108.30. Cull ewes averaged £64.43 and cast rams £105.17.