A BUSY Skipton Auction Mart kicked off the 2020 Christmas show season with the annual rearing calf highlight, with Louise and Andrew Ayrton of Eastby presenting the supreme champion.

The difficult job of sorting through the 100 high quality entries was ably conducted by first time judges Chloe, 21, and Chrissie Lund, 16, granddaughters of Brian, from BL&R Lund in Hebden Bridge.

They picked out a fine British Blue X bull, just under six weeks old, presented by the Ayrtons of Bower House Farm from their 225 closed stock herd. Sired by the Holstein Kojak Genus bull from a homebred cow, the bull was the couple’s third Skipton show success this year. It sold for the day’s top price of £470 to the judges.

Reserve champion went to Andrew Pickersgill of G Pickersgill & Sons, who farms at Hawkwsorth, with his Limousin bull calf sired from their stock bull Cornfield Olly out of a homebred cow. It sold at £450 to JA Gibson & Sons, Tadcaster.

In total 21 Blues sold to an average of £331, with the best-selling Blue bulls fetching between £380 to £450, mediums £320 to £360, and smalls £240 to £280.

Blue heifers also saw a strong trade, especially for shape and size, as trade topped at £385 from JP&KE Hartley, Beamsley. Best heifers went for between £330 and 360, mediums £280 to £320 and smalls £220 to £260.

Angus bulls also saw a nice trade, fetching between £275 to £300, with Ralph Guy, Earby, selling two lovely square calves at £345 and £358. Mediums fetched £255 to £270, smalls £220 to £240.

Simmental X bull calves enjoyed good trade with Angus Dean from Threshfield selling a run of five to an average of £287. Black and white bulls sold to an average of £103, with nice rearers at 21 days plus fetching £75 to £120, and strong British Friesians selling up to £200 with Mr Pickersgill again heading the prices. Native heifers went for up to £250.

Always a good trade, Limousin bulls went at an average of £402, while Limousin heifers averaged £280, with Hayton & Stocks of Bolton Abbey topping at £380.

Ralph Pearson wholesale butchers from Bradford swept the board at Monday’s prime cattle sale, accounting for all the top gross prices and those by weight.

The top price per kg was 305.5p (£1,787) for a 585kg Limousin X heifer from TK Drinkall of Newton le Willows, who followed this immediately with a 560kg Limousin cross heifer to the Pearson for 301.5p/kg (£1,688).

A small entry of steers and an average weight of 643kg caused the top prices per kg to be less than the heifers, but with a top of 287.5p/kg and an average of 287.16p/kg (£1,847), the section was productive for brothers Charles and Richard Kitching of Threshfield who sold a 645kg Limousin at 287.5p/kg (£1,854), a 630kg British Blue X at 287.5p/kg (£1,811) and a 655kg Blonde cross at 286.5p/kg (£1,877) - the top gross on the day.

The equivalent heifer was a 655kg Limousin at 281.5p/kg (£1,844), also consigned by the Kitchings.

Cast cows continued their upward trend with a handful of worns diluting the average. Dairies carrying meat were 130p to 140p/kg, steaking cows 115p to120p/kg and, with an odd exception, plain dairies at 85p/kg.

The prime sheep sale saw 2,891 lambs go to an overall average of 278.8p/kg. Heavier lambs were a shade dearer on the week, with prices between £130 to £150 on 171 occasions, and £151 plus on 28 pens, topping at £163 twice for two pens of Suffolks and Texels from EP&JM Hutchinson of Faceby. MP Jennings of Cowling reached £162; SW&JE Ryder of Norwood, Otley, £159; and GT Booth of Lothersdale £158. Lambs over 52kg (all breeds) averaged £142, and 46kg to 52kg averaged £133.

Beltex averaged at £128.97, with Alistair Jenkinson of Langbar, Ilkley, presenting an excellent run of Beltex X lambs, including the top prices per kilo of 352p twice, 344p and 335p. Nearly 100 pens achieved 300p plus.

Texels averaged £124.63 per head (277.5p/kg), with EP&JM Hutchinson topping at £163. Hutchinson also saw the top Suffolk at £163, with the breed going at an average of £120.74 per head (268.9p/kg), and the top Charolais at £157 against an average of £126.73 (273.6p/kg).

Mules were in demand at an average of £121.40 (264.8p/kg), with the best price realised by N Parker, Silsden, at £144.50. Mashams averaged £131.25 (261.6p/kg) with EP&JM Hutchinson selling three pens all at £140 per head (276.7p/kg) to PL Metcalfe, Otterburn.

Swaledales averaged £84.47 (230.4p/kg) to a top of £90 from BS Simpson, Pateley Bridge. Blue Faced Leicesters averaged £114.71 (241.6p/kg), topping at £133 to PL Metcalfe. Hampshire averaged £115.92 (268.4p/kg), and Blue Texels £100.40 (285.3p/kg), with J Sugden, Laycock, hitting £113.50.

There were 461 cull sheep, with ewes averaging £89.71 and rams £124.83.