With sheep numbers light countrywide, the 1,677 prime hoggs sold at Skipton Auction Mart on Monday averaged 257p/kg (SQQ of 264p), or £110.29 per head, which was dearer than expected in the circumstances, especially for handy weights.

Per head prices peaked at 420p/kg, or £168 per head, for 40kg Beltex from J&M Blakey & Son, of Bolton-by-Bowland, the same gross achieved by Malhamdale’s Jeff Burrow with 44kg Beltex. Both pens sold to Brayton Farm Shop, Selby.

Other best quality pens in the 36-45kg weight range made £130-plus, or 320-350p/kg, while the lowest price among the 46-52kg lowland lambs was £108 per head, with highs of £150, or 312.5p/kg, for a 48kg pen again from the Blakeys and again bought by Brayton Farm Shop.

Another smart trade for heavies over 52kg produced a weight range average of £124 and a top of £144 for 59kg Texels from Brian Lund, of Walshaw, claimed by Robertshaw’s Farm Shop, Thornton. Mule and Masham wethers also sold well, with plenty of three-figure prices.

The 381 cast sheep entry included 127 white-faced ewes sold to average £106, topping at £157.50 for Texels from Thorlby’s John and Alison Spensley. Cull ewes averaged £88.28 and cast rams £93.28.

In the prime cattle ring, 24 under 30-month entries were a shade dearer on the week, a decent proportion knocking on the door of 600kg or over, producing an overall Continental heifer selling average of 250.23p/kg (average weight 575kg), with steers averaging 251.93p/kg.

Ralph Pearson Wholesale Butchers in Bradford accounted for the leading gross prices of £1,612 and £1,577 for Limousin-x heifers and steers from, respectively, Threshfield’s Charles and Richard Kitching, and the Smith family in Masongill.

In the retail shop weights, Robertshaw’s Farm Shop in Thornton was again particularly active, securing both leading prices, both Limousin-x, a 555kg steer from the Smiths and a 585kg heifer from the Kitchings, both making 265.5p/kg.

Though cattle carrying finish were in short supply, cull cow trade continued to improve, the16 forward averaging 118.10p/kg, or £765.41. The black and white average was 120p/kg, with section highs of £1,039 and 133.5p/kg from, respectively, the Hartleys in Beamsley and Broughton’s Jeremy Taylor.

The fortnightly Craven Dairy Auction saw a small turnout of milkers achieve total clearance, with an average of £1,928 and a top of £2,500 for an 11 days-calved fresh heifer from Robert and Ellie Crisp, of Calton, sold locally to the Hartley family in Beamsley. Two heifers from Bell Busk’s Brian and Judith Moorhouse also made over £2,000, both falling to ringside regular Brian Blezard, of Ribchester

A total of 51 dairy-bred rearing calves were dearer on the week, with regular demand across all sections and a top of £350 for a British Blue-x bull calf from Mark Smith in Winterburn.

Skipton’s latest fortnightly Wednesday cattle fixture attracted almost 700 head. Into the ring first were 266 young feeding bulls, with pen after pen of suckler-bred Spring 2020-born cattle meeting a similarly confident trade.

The main point of interest for buyers were 400kg entries and vendors were not disappointed, with general trading levels of £1,020-£1,200. Again, the trade of the day were April-born calves if sufficiently smart enough to make £1,000 or over.

The 63 beef feeding cows met a very sharp trade in line with stronger interest from processors. Heavy continentals were £1,100-plus, to a top of £1,340, 35-month-old heifers also peaking at the same price.

Trade was again strong for all classes of the 366 store bullocks and heifers, and probably slightly up on the fortnight for all goods, with more farmer buyers seeking quality bulling heifers and some younger cattle to farm on. Top price of £1,800 fell to a young smart black heifer from E BA & SW Mills, of Sheffield.

Confidence in beef breeding cattle was underlined by an extremely good trade for a run of in-calf heifers and second calvers from Ian Handley, of Chapel-le-Dale, which peaked at £2,300 for a second calved British Blue cow with Limousin calf at foot. In-calf heifers topped at £1,900 and in-calf cows the same.

The first Saturday monthly livestock collective sale at the weekend saw a great entry of 111 head, comprising 60 steers, 32 heifers and 18 bulls. Trade for all classes was very good with buyers out in force. Heifers sold to £830, steers to £730 and bulls to £700.

Due to the Covid-19 lockdown currently in place – all sales are again ‘drop and go’ for all vendors, with sale rings reserved exclusively by buyers.

The mart reports that the annual Craven Champions store cattle with show potential two-day highlight originally scheduled for Tuesday evening and Wednesday, February 16 & 17, has now been moved back a month to the same days on March 16 & 17.