A MASSIVE turnout of close on 5,400 sheep comprising 4,627 prime and 745 breeding sheep saw Skipton Auction Mart buzzing and customers keen to do business at the latest weekly Monday sale.

Almost 4,000 Spring lambs and hoggs were on offer, the 189 new season lambs trading to a high of £4.70 per kilo, £188 per head, for 40kg Texel-crosses from GA Hewitt & Son, Giggleswick, going to Ilkley with Rowland Agar Wholesale Butchers.

Andrew Brown, Gargrave, made 430p/kg, £172 each, when his 40kg Continentals joined the same buyer, with other Texel pens making 400p/kg or more, many further pens of smarter handy-weighted lambs away at 350-395p/kg. Steeton’s Mark Evans sold 50kg Suffolk-crosses to £165.

The 3,769 old season hoggs saw most categories dearer on the week, the overall selling average rising to £123.44 per head, or 266.3p/kg (SQQ 280.9p).

Lowland handyweight hoggs were a strong trade throughout and again short of requirements, and with 700 horned lambs the handyweights among these also sold to a robust trade with buyers keen. Heavy hoggs were dearer, increased demand seen for those in the 48-55kg weight range, while overweight types were very good to sell, some £10/£15 more expensive on the week.

Trade was still as strong for 669 cull ewes and tups, topping at £239.50 for a single Texel ewe from D&A Livestock, Harrogate, with heavy Texel ewes with style away at £200-£239.50. The overall cull ewe average was £118.97, cast rams averaging £140.38.

Breeding sheep were equally as dear as the previous two weeks, with purchasers out for all classes, ages and breeds. Best Texel ewe outfits made £280-£330, top call of £330 falling to a pen of good skinned and well-bred Texel ewes with pairs from Andrew Throup, Silsden, who also sold Texel ewes with singles to £245 top.

Prime cattle trade also remains strong and appears destined to remain so into summer as warmer weather turns thoughts to al fresco dining with changing retail demand for steaks and barbeque cuts.

Malham Moor’s Bill Cowperthwaite headed up the gross prices in both the heifer and steer classes. His overall top price was £2,070, 304.5p/kg, paid by Ralph Pearson Wholesale Butchers, Bradford, for a 650kg Limousin-cross heifer, the same buyer also accounting for the other, a 660kg Limousin-cross steer at £2,010, 304.5p/kg.

With a number of lighter retail weights in the entry, Paul Baines, Gisburn, topped these prices at 325.5p/kg, £1,855, for a 570kg Limousin-cross heifer which also fell to Pearsons, who accounted for seven of the 17 under 30-month clean cattle.

Masongill father and son, Francis and Andrew Smith, presented two quality British Blue-cross steers which headed the section by-weight prices at 319.5p/kg, £1,773, for one weighing 555kg, the other at 535kg making 303.5p/kg, £1,624, both going to Knavesmire Butchers, York. Steers sold to an overall average of 299p/kg and heifers 276p/kg, others buyers including the mart-based Barkers Yorkshire Butchers with a trio and a brace for Robertshaw’s Farm Shop, Thornton.

Trade for 23 cull cows proved as strong as ever, even though the entry contained a limited number of cattle carrying flesh, with dairies around 170p/kg at the top end and lean cows regularly away at 140-160p/kg.

A brace of well-finished Continental Limousin-crosses from James and Deborah Ogden, Austwick sold at 207.5p/kg and 191.5p/kg, or £1,704 and £1,701, while a native-bred Galloway from Haddon Farms in Huddersfield made 170p/kg. The overall cull cow selling average was 160.93p/kg, £953.31 per head.

The same morning’s weekly rearing calf sale saw 28 head equally as dear on the week, with willing buyers out in force. Eleven British Blue-cross bulls sold to average £392, the best end at four-to-five-weeks-old making £400-£445, this the top call from JP&KE Hartley, Beamsley Blue-cross heifers sold to £360 from Halton West’s T&S Holgate.

Limousin-cross bull calves peaked at £420 from G Pickersgill & Sons, Hawksworth, while black and whites sold to a wider range of customers, with two well-reared Friesian bulls making £205 and £215, the latter from Cononley’s James Gooch, who also chipped in with the top price natives, Aberdeen-Angus bull and heifer calves at £325 and £220, plus the leading price £275 Limousin-cross heifer.

With a shortage of calves about more are needed for the May bank holiday sale this coming Monday.