THE high-flying Procters Farm pedigree Texel flock took the three leading prices at Skipton Auction Mart’s first pedigree fixture of 2021, the 28th annual open winter sale of Texel females for members of Northern Area Texel Sheep Breeders. (Thursday, January 7)

With planned show classes cancelled, Jeff Aiken, flock manager at Procters Farm, based at Moss House Farm, Wennington, close to the Lancashire-Yorkshire border, hit the headlines when stepping up with a high price in-lamb shearling ewe hat-trick, leading the way at 3,200gns with a March, 2019, daughter of the highly acclaimed Garngour Alabama son, Sportsmans Batman, a notable 100,000gns purchase last year.

Out of a Teiglum Younggun dam and a full sister to the Procters Farm 14,000gns sale topper at the January Gems sale in Ballymena the previous week, the Skipton top price performer, scanned carrying a single lamb to the Sportsmans Catapult son, Llyfni Droog, found a new home in Shropshire with Ben Lowe.

Mr Lowe, whose day job is national forage product manager for Agrii, is now into the fourth year since establishing his Rue Wood pedigree Texel flock just outside Shrewsbury, which now comprises 20 pure-bred breeding ewes, plus a recipient flock for embryo transfers.

Quality breeding is key to the flock’s continuing development. Mr Lowe explained: “While I was keen to secure a good Batman daughter it was the extremely strong female line that was of particular interest.”

His Skipton acquisition has top-notch bloodlines going back to an Anglezarke Uno ewe lamb and her Chessy dam, and also from the same family as two Procters Farm leading lights, the 12,000gns Cheeky Monkey and Crystal. Multiple high profile show champions feature in the breeding.

Taking second top call of 2,600gns for Procters Farm, who have sent out multiple Texel supreme champions and prize winners at Skipton over the years, was another Batman daughter from the same family as the 46,000gns gimmer sold at last year’s Select 7 sale. Born in February, 2019, from a Strathbogie Ya Belter dam and again in-lamb to Llyfni Droog carrying twins, she travelled north of the border when joining David Morrison in Dalwyne, Ayrshire.

Completing the leading price Procters Farm hat-trick at 1,700gns was a second March-born shearling ewe by the 12,000gns Fordafourie Balvennie, again out of a Teiglum Younggun dam. Scanned carrying twins to the Batman son, Procters Dingo Dollar, she found a new home in Wales with Dyfed Hedd Jones, of Pwllheli on Gwynedd’s Llŷn Peninsula. Five Procters Farm shearling ewes averaged £1,953.

Myfyr Evans, a regular Welsh visitor to Skipton with quality stock from his Rhaeadr flock at Llanrhaeadr in Denbighshire, again created a buzz with his consignment of four ewe lambs, which topped at 1,300gns for a February, 2020, daughter of Brackenridge Crown Royal, out of a Glenside Whiz Kid dam.

The top price ewe lamb – a maternal sister made 9,000gns – sold locally to Stephen Peel, who trades as H Johnson & S Peel in Harrogate. The consignment from Rheaedr, which also sold a second ewe lamb at 900gns, averaged £931.88.

Cumbria’s Peter Woof’s 2021 consignment saw another good following, peaking at 700gns for a Gyrhos Andy shearling, out of a Sportsmans Tremendous 11 dam and carrying a single lamb to Craig Douglas Dancer, himself a son of Sportsmans Cannon Ball. Stainton had others at 650gns and 600gns.

Averages for the 33 head sold showed a very strong rise on the year, with shearling gimmers averaging £718.84 (2020 £337) and ewe lambs £931.87 (2020 £439).

Another busy Monday market included weekly primestock sales, with a much better entry of 3,349 sheep comprising 2,927 prime and lightweight hoggs, and 422 cast ewes and rams.

Lamb trade was up several notches, the overall average standing at 273p/kg, or £116.98 per head, with all classes a tremendous trade and attracting additional buyers. Cull ewe trade also took a rise averaging £88.66. Cast rams averaged £113.50.

A strong entry of 55 prime cattle included 25 under 30-month clean cattle produced top gross and per kilo prices of £1,584 and 259.5p. Thirty cast cattle, which averaged £761.78, or 113.17p/kg.

A small entry of 31 rearing calves met buoyant trade, peaking at £370, while the first Craven Dairy Auction of the year saw commercial newly calven heifers sell to £2,150, averaging £1,966.