Skipton Auction Mart launched its 2021 breeding sheep season on Monday with the traditional ewes with lambs at foot opener, which attracted a tidy turnout of 54 outfits with 83 lambs, well up on the previous year, with trade described as ‘fantastic’ throughout. (Feb 15)

The real eye-catchers and keenly contested were a run of exceptional pure-bred Charollais sheep with Charollais and Beltex lambs from Neville Smith, of Lothersdale. Top price per outfit was £620 for a 2 shear with single Beltex-x tup lamb, followed at £480 for another 2 shear single, and £400 for a shearling with twins. Other outfits from the same home sold well at £300 and £240 twice.

Killinghall’s Richard Umpleby presented his usual good run of Suffolk and Continental ewes, all with twin lambs, his two top selling pens away at £280 per outfit, while Winsbury Farm Partners in Leyburn produced Beltex ewes with twins at £250, others with singles at £230.

Older Continental sheep with singles sold at £140-£160, those with twins at £180-£220, while North of England Mule ewes broken mouth sold either side of £200 with twins, and in the £140s to £160s for singles.

The mart says plenty of ewes with lambs are already on the book for this coming Monday’s sale, with this and future weekly sales now starting at 11.30am and catalogue entries required the previous Friday by 12 noon.

Prime sheep trade followed suit and was said to be ‘absolutely electric,’ with 2,122 prime and lightweight hoggs proving much dearer on the week when averaging 290.7p/kg, aided by an SQQ of 300p/kg, with the overall selling average an exhilarating £125.18 per head.

A full complement of both retail and wholesale buyers competed strongly for the quality goods on offer across all classes from multiple vendors, among them many familiar weekly faces.

The best end made 350p/kg-plus, with four pens hitting a heady £4 per kilo or more, two of them Beltex from Henry Atkinson, of Felliscliffe, one topping at 402.4p/kg, with a leading gross price £170 for Texels from SP Woolhouse & Sons, of Doncaster.

No less than 41 pens made £150 plus, with the nice end of commercial 38-46kg lambs easily topping £3 per kilo and heavier lambs regularly away at £130-£150. Solid averages across all breeds saw Beltex do best as usual when averaging £141.88 per head, or 347.6p/kg.

Trade for 387 cast ewes was said to be on fire, again with a full line-up of buyers actively going head to head. Heavies, lean and horned ewes were all dearer, selling to £151.50 per head for Texels from AlistairJenkinson, of Langbar, with an overall cull ewe average of £89.70. More are required. Cast rams also rook a nice rise when averaging £96.56.

Another high quality turnout of 14 under 30-month clean cattle was again presented by regular vendors and snapped up by familiar faces ringside. Worthy of note was the average weight of cattle, with nine heifers averaging 590kg making 256p/kg and five steers averaging 580kg selling at 254p/kg.

The top price per head 620kg Blonde-x heifer from Threshfield’s Charles and Richard Kitching made £1,603, or 258.5p/kg, when selling to Ralph Pearson Wholesale Butchers in Bradford. From the same home came the leading price per kilo steer, a Limousin-x sold for 260.5p/kg, or £1,524, to Robertshaw’s Farm Shop in Thornton, whose James Robertshaw also secured the top price heifer and overall top price per kilo on the day, another Limousin-x from the Critchley family in Hutton at 261.5p/kg, or £1,491.

Trade for 19 cull cows stepped up again, with a number of saleable young cows or well finished sorts among the entry. Pick of the per kilo trade at 167.5p/kg, or £1,131, was a milking Simmental-cross heifer at just 32-months-old from Chris Harrison of Elslack, while the top gross at £1,167 was a 930kg Holstein cow from Brereton’s Robert Metcalfe, who also sold a nine-year-old Limousin cast bull weighing 940kg for 155.5p/kg, or £1,462.

Feeding cows were a very good trade with lean cows selling to 115.5p, the section producing an overall average of 123.80p/kg, or £822.32 per head.

Thirty rearing calves met another good trade, with two new vendors present. Topping at £445 was a Limousin-x bull calf from Hayton & Stocks in Bolton Abbey, while ten British Blue-x bulls averaged £356, selling to £430 twice from Richard Wright in Airton and Eastby’s Andrew Ayrton.

The Stevenson family from Redcar, one of the new vendors, made an immediate impact when selling a Blue bull calf for £410 and topping both native sections with a Hereford bull at £385 and an Aberdeen-Angus heifer at the same price.

Online produce sales will now be held over two days every fortnight, the next on Wednesday and Thursday, February 24 & 25.