Prime sheep trade at Skipton Auction Mart has been exceptional of late and improved yet again at the latest weekly Monday sale, which attracted 3,052 head. (March 8)

The 2,676 prime lambs – they included the first turnout this year of just five Spring-born lambs, the rest prime and lightweight hoggs – sold to an overall average of £130.52 per head or 297.1p/kg (SQQ 306.1p/kg), compared to the previous week’s £121.53, or 280p/kg.

The 168 Beltex-x lambs among the entry produced the day’s top call of £175 per head, or 388p/kg, for a 45kg pen from S Forshaw & Son in Longridge, which were again among multiple acquisitions by Vivers Scotlamb. While other Beltex pens made £155- £168, commercial types also did well, with handyweights achieving 300-340p/kg, and nice mediums 300-320p/kg.

Across individual weight ranges, the best heavy Continental lambs above 52kg were regularly away at £150 to a top of £166.50 from the Hutchinson family in Faceby, purchased by Kendalls Farm Butchers, of Pateley Bridge and Harrogate, others from the same home selling at £164 to Knavesmire Butchers in York. Glen Bell, of Dibbles Bridge, arrived with his usual solid run of heavies, which sold up to £163 when purchased by Farmers Fresh. Fourteen more pens sold in the £150’s.

Lowland lambs weighing 46-52kg sold to a top of £168 each, again from the Forshaws, other pens regularly away at £150-plus, and a long list of others at £140-£149.

It was 36kg-45kg lowland lambs that produced the day’s top price Forshaw pen, Beltex from Walter Parkinson, of Garstang, also doing notably well with a 41kg single at £171, or 417p/kg, two more weighing 39kg at £166, or 425p/kg, another 37kg single at £160, or 433p/kg, and a pen of three weighing 41kg at £160, or 390p/kg. Commercial lambs in this weight bracket made 290-330p/kg. Lambs at 35kg and less included some nice 33/34kg pens at £100-£115, or 300-330p/kg.

Other principal quality lowland lamb purchasers included Hartshead Meat Co in Mossley, Robertshaw’s Farm Shop, of Thornton, and Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop in Lancaster.

A large entry of almost 1,000 hill-bred lambs saw North of England Mules and Masham wethers trade at £130-£140 for good mediums and heavies, handyweights making 280-290p/kg. Similarly, nice handy and lightweight horned wethers made 270-290p/kg. Mules topped at £142 296p/kg, with a breed average of 280p/kg. Cheviots sold to £140.50 and generally at 280-295p/kg, with the best horned lambs selling in the £120’s and up to 294p/kg.

Cull ewe trade stepped up yet another gear, with high averages for the 376 head. Suffolks topped at £167.50, with heavies making £150-plus, mediums £125-£145 and lean meat ewes £105-£115. White-faced ewes made £140-£159.50 for heavies, while heavy Mules sold at £110-£118.50. Averages were solid at £112.72 for cull ewes and £122.50 for cast rams.

Also penned for sale were 572 breeding and store sheep. With more younger lambs coming forward and some vendors also approaching their end draws of the early lambers buyers were a shade more cautious.

Ewes with singles topped at £210 from Chris and Christine Ryder in Blubberhouses, who also sold ewes with twins at £270 and £260. Other ewes with twins made £260-£285 for pure-breds with smart lambs, Beltex with twins selling up to £295 and Suffolks with twins at £250-£270. Mules with twins sold at £200-£230.

A decent penning of store lambs saw Continentals sell to £107 and horned stores to £106. More are required.

Retail demand stronger in prime cattle arena

Familiar faces were again in action at the weekly prime cattle sale, with retail demand for the 14 under 30-month entries growing stronger and contributing to another very good trade, steers averaging 269.5p/kg and heifers 256.59p/kg

James Robertshaw took up his usual berth ringside to claim both frontrunners on price, a pair of Limousin-x heifers. He paid top price per kilo of 275.5p/kg (£1,584) for a 575kg entry from ever-present Threshfield brothers Charles and Richard Kitching, then the leading gross price of £1,668 (273.5p/kg) for a 610kg heifer from Silsden Moor’s Simon Bennett. They were both for his own Robertshshaw’s Farm Shop in Thornton, with one further acquisition for Skipton-based Keelham Farm Shop.

Ralph Pearson Wholesale Butchers in Bradford again sought high quality stock in anticipation of increasing demand, accounting for nine in total, among them the top price steer, a 580kg Limousin-x again from the Kitching pen at 269.5p/kg (£1,563) and second top gross price of £1,645 (267.5p/kg) for a 615kg Limousin-x heifer from the Critchley family in Hutton, Preston. The mart-based Barkers Yorkshire Butchers was once more among the buyers..

Trade was up again for 17 cull cows, all bar one dairy-bred. With more finish in the market, the best dairies were 130-140p/kg, regardless of age, while plain cows to graze were able to command 120p/kg-plus, providing plenty of confidence for the future.

The overall selling average was £757.23, or 127.01p/kg, black and whites peaking at £1,085 and 139.5p/kg for respective entries from James Gooch, of Cononley, and the Fort family on Silsden Moor, while Simon Bennett claimed 170.5p/kg, or £1,569, for the single bull on offer, a 920kg 2015-born Limousin.

Dairy cattle were sold in the new main sales ring for the first time, with plenty of buyers present for the increased entry of 14 head at the fortnightly fixture and more still required to meet current demand for all classes, breeds and ages.

Trade topped at £2,550 for a fresh heifer from the Ravensgate herd of Bishop Thornton’s Pete Baul, closely followed at £2,520 by a pedigree heifer, Aireburn Charley Aldina, from Brian and Judith Moorhouse in Bell Busk, backed by 11 generations of VG or EX. Both fell locally to the Hartley dairy farming partnership in Beamsley. In total, five entries sold at £2,000 and above, the 13 heifers and cows averaging £2,150.

The same morning’s weekly sale of 44 rearing calves produced serious trade for all goods, which sold to an overall average of £249 and a top of £450 for a British Blue-x bull calf from Eastby’s Andrew Ayrton. Of the 15 Blue bulls among the entry nine made £400-plus. Blue-x heifers averaged £290, peaking at £350 from Mark Smith in Winterburn, while Simmental bull calves sold well up to £405 for one from rearing calf regular Chris Harrison of Elslack. Of the natives, Aberdeen-Angus bull calves sold to £250, heifers to £230.