WHILE the absence of the usual show classes prevented Northern Ireland’s Matthew Burleigh from picking up an unprecedented fourth consecutive title at The Northern Beltex Society’s ninth annual winter sale of pedigree in-lamb females at Skipton Auction Mart he did have the satisfaction of claiming the four leading prices. (Sat, Dec 12)

Making his annual foray across the Irish Sea, this year with a quintet of shearling ewes, Mr Burleigh, who runs the Matt’s pedigree flock at Shanra, near Enniskillen in Co. Fermanagh, secured top call of 1,000gns with his home-bred Matt’s Endeavour, a March-born twin by the 3.500gns Hackney Download, bred by the Tippetts family in Shifnal, Shropshire. Another 5,000gns tup from the same home was responsible for Matt’s 2019 Skipton title winner.

With the 3,400gns Hackney Warrior in the dam line, the 2020 top price performer was sold carrying twins to the 3,500gns Edendiak Dancer and found a new home locally with father and son, Chris and Tom Heseltine, at Hesketh House, Bolton Abbey, also home to Hesketh Farm Park, currently closed until next February. The Heseltines established their Beltex flock a decade ago and currently have more than 50 breeding ewes on the ground.

Mr Burleigh achieved second top of 850gns with another March-born shearling ewe, Matt’s Error, one of twins to Hackney Corker, whose breeding has figured prominently in the flock’s past successes at the North Yorkshire venue. Again by a Warrior-sired ewe and also scanned carrying twins to Edendiak Dancer, this one also sold locally into Skipton-based Chris and Linda Windle’s Cavendish flock.

The purchasers of both top price performers said they were keen to add new bloodlines to their respective flocks from a well respected breeder. Both will be keeping their fingers crossed for some top-notch tup lambs, though won’t likely turn down good gimmer lambs to add more females of the new bloodline!

Two further Matt’s shearling ewes made 650gns and 600gns, the former a daughter of Matt’s Defender, again by Hackney Corker, carrying twins to Culsh Elvis, the latter also by Hackney Download, carrying a single lamb to Murrays Export. Respective purchasers were SH Stott, of Sowerby Bridge, and Henry Bailey, of Long Lee, above Keighley.

The 600gns selling price was matched by an April-born shearling ewe from North Craven fixture regulars, Mike and Jane Davis, who run the Rathbone flock at Ravenshaw Farm, Eldroth. Their Belvoir View Derminator daughter, Rathbone Emerald, whose own dam was by Rathbone Leader, sold in-lamb to the Irish-bred 1,800gns purchase, Artnagullion Fitbit. The buyer was GW Dent, of Cockfield, Bishop Auckland.

The Davis’s also made 500gns with a second shearling ewe by Y Bedol A-Team, again in-lamb to Fitbit, this selling price also matched by another shearling ewe successfully served by Fitbit, though this time from the Panbeck flock in Hellfield run by Mr and Mrs Davis’ daughter, Becki Dakin, and husband, Nathan. The March, 2019, Panbeck Edith, by Wern Director, out of a Buckles Whizz Kid dam, joined Gargrave’s WG Beckwith.

A small, but select entry of pedigree Beltex females met a sharp trade and achieved nigh on total clearance, with increased averages on the year of £566 (2019 £423) for shearling gimmers and £400 (2019 £320) for aged ewes.

Another busy Monday featured annual Christmas shows for prime hill lambs, when Silsden Moor’s Ken and Lynne Throup stood supreme champions with a trio of North of England Mules sold for £128 each to Swaledale Foods in Skipton, whose multiple buys of prize-winning pens also included the first prize Swaledale trio from Ellis Bros, of Addingham Moorside, at £108 per head.

The reserve champion Masham trio from Beckwithshaw’s David Wilson also made £128 each when claimed by Brayton Farm Shop, near Selby. The overall average for the 3,784 prime lambs sold was £92.83 per head or 216.42p/kg.

Champions at the annual Christmas cull ewes shows for the eighth consecutive year were Easingwold’s Ken and Hazel Gamble, with a pen of five Texels sold at £169.50 to Halifax show judge, Lister Brown. Of the 337 cast sheep, cull ewe trade was well up on the week at £84.72 overall.

Also on the agenda was the final Craven Dairy Auction of the year and the weekly prime cattle and rearing calf sales. All will be featured in more detail in next week’s Herald.