EVEN though the current lambing season is now getting into full swing, a solid turnout not far short of 4,000 prime sheep was penned for sale at Skipton Auction Mart’s latest weekly Monday market, with trade for 3,425 old season hoggs generally on the up when producing an overall sale average of £120.08 per head, or 266.2p/kg.

Handier weighted hoggs were again better to sell, with mediums also in increased demand, the smart end of both producing solid trade, while heavies and overweights were a good chunk dearer too on the week, the latter in the 60kg-plus weight bracket noticeably so, topping at £164 for Continentals from J&M Blakey, of Bolton-by-Bowland,

The 46-52kg weight range saw another lift in prices, the 1,166 head up 4p/kg on the week on average, selling to a top gross of the day of £170 for Beltex from the Hutchinson family in Faceby, who also headed the day’s by-weight prices in the 35-42kg range with a further 37kg Beltex pen at 424p, or £157. All breeds in this range traded to an overall average of 286p/kg.

Of the hill breeds, both North of England Mules and Mashams were a sharper trade for nice weights, the better end reaching 260p/kg-plus, heavies selling to £139. Cheviots, Lonks and Scottish Blackface all traded well into three figures.

Spring lamb numbers are growing each week, the 33 head a slightly better selection in general, producing top calls of £148 and 344.2p/kg for Charollais lambs from the Marwood family in Whenby, York, six other pens from the same home making £140 and above. The overall section average was £135.30 per head, or 276.4p/kg.

Keen interest is anticipated this coming Monday for the Easter Spring lambs show and sale, when retail butchers will again be keen to source quality lambs for customers’ seasonal tables. The monthly prime hoggs show is also on the same day’s agenda.

Cast sheep, 466 in total, were predominantly cull ewes, for which trade was flying, jumping up several gears with a full ringside of active buyers. Some large heavy Continentals from IR Dodson, of Sowerby Bridge, sold to a top of £227.50, with best bred heavy Continentals £200-£230 and good well fleshed pure ewes £175-£190, the section averaging £132.60. Cast rams averaged £173.45, peaking at £231.50 for a Suffolk from Craven Farms in Melbourne, York.

Breeding sheep numbers again increased, the 282 head seeing best bred ewes with strong lambs selling at £70-£80 per life for both singles and pairs. Plenty of Mules with singles made £130-£148 per outfit, with correct Mule ewes with twins hitting £150-£180 and younger ewes away in the £170-£180 range, Top call of £300 fell to a Texel ewe with twins from Natalie Moore, of Tadcaster. In addition, 28 store hoggs topped at £81 for Cheviots.

With feeders busy lambing and the April show also due this coming Monday prompting additional retail interest, a light entry of under 30-month prime cattle still proved good to sell, producing a Continental heifer average of 288p/kg and 284p/kg for steers.

In the retail weights, 293.5p/kg was the top call for a 560kg Blonde-cross heifer from ever-present Threshfield brothers Charles and Richard Kitching, who also consigned the highest priced steer, a 625kg Limousin-cross at 291.5p/kg, or £1,822.

Both fell to Ralph Pearson Wholesale Butcher in Bradford, which claimed all but one of the seven-strong entry.

Cull cow trade continued its upward trajectory, with all classes extremely good to sell, the 13 head trading to an overall average of £1,007.49, or 149.43p/kg. In the dairies meat was 165p/kg, the next grade down 145p/kg and lean cows 135p/kg, top gross call of £1,257 falling to a black and white from James Gooch, of Cononley, who also caught the eye with a dairy-bred Danish Red at £1,231.

A heavy pure Hereford cow from SE Coar, of Hoghton, Chorley, made 172.5p/kg and grossed £1,570.

The weekly rearing calf sale entry of 20 head comprised plenty of youngsters, with a lighter turnout of just five British Blue-cross bulls getting away at £315 up to a day’s top of £390 from the Ayrton family in Eastby, producing a section average of £351, while Blue heifer calves sold to £240 and Limousin bulls to £300.

Some British Friesians in the mix sold at £150-£205.