AN overall selling average of £130.05 for 4,297 head, up £6.72 on the year, was recorded at the high profile opening North of England Mule gimmer lamb show and sale at CCM Skipton Auction Mart. (Tues, Sept 5).

CCM’s livestock sales manager Ted Ogden commented: “The hard facts show a slightly better trade generally on the year, boosted by the availability of better grazing and a couple of days of fine weather, which allowed breeders to consign lambs dry and in fine bloom, and, fair to say, in a brighter condition than 2022, with most vendors reporting a slight rise, in line with the sale average.

“An improved trade was witnessed for vendors’ first pens, while lambs suitable to take the ram this year were also in high demand regardless of colour, with light-headed tuppers again finding a strong enquiry and this generally pulled along the running lamb trade to be in front of expectations.”

Breed stalwarts from across a wide region were again well represented at what is one of the earliest official ewe lamb sales to be staged solely on behalf of members of the North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA), often an effective barometer to potential future trading levels at annual seasonal sales across the north.

In turn, a good ringside of travelled buyers again flocked to the North Yorkshire highlight, successfully taking home lambs to a wide area across England and Scotland, with regular buyers keen to purchase quality and lambs with a good health status and vaccinations already in place.

Defending champions from previous years successfully defended their crowns, the Forest of Bowland Walkers again winning the flagship 10s show class for an unprecedented fifth year running, the North Craven Booths making it a hat-trick of consecutive victories with their 20s.

The Walker family - Geoff and Margaret and sons, John and Rob - from Brennand Farm, Dunsop Bridge, earned further bragging rights when claiming the sale’s leading price of £280 per head, a nice rise on the year for a straight sale, with their title-winning 10s, the majority again by home-bred Bluefaced Leicester tups, chiefly, Brennand P10 and N9, plus one each by Midlock and Shitlington tups.

They retained the Chester Knellor Memorial Trophy, presented by daughter Christine Bridges and husband John, from Foulridge, along with the Ciba Geigy Perpetual Trophy. The Walkers also consigned the similarly bred sixth prize 20s pen, sold at £158.

The repeat champion 20s from father and son, David and Robin Booth, of Old Hall Farm Feizor, north of Settle – Robin was ably assisted by 12-year-old daughter Erin - also made top price in section of £225 each. The majority were again by home-bred Smearsett tups, with others by Midlock and Harkerside rams. They, too, received a Ciba Geigy Perpetual Trophy Of the other vendors making £200 or over for pens of lambs, Wharfedale father and son, Francis and James Caton, of Weston Hall Farm, Weston, were again to the fore when presenting the third and fourth prize tens, away at £210 and £230 respectively, along with the second and third prize 20s, these making £165 and £160. Prominent among their breeding was a Michael James Duhonw tup acquired two years ago, others by both home-bred and Reed family rams.

The Kitching family, of Grisedale Farm, Threshfield, claimed the runners-up slot with their 10s, selling at £200, plus another pen at £190, along with the fourth prize 20s, away at £170. Kevin Wilson, who farms with his wife Daphne and son, James, at Hewness House Farm, Blubberhouses, hit £200 with their fifth prize tens, the Walker family in Appletreewick, standing sixth in class, their charges selling at £180. From Embsay, the fifth prize 20s from John and Claire Mason, and daughter Annabel, made £165.

CCM Auctions again awarded prizes for the highest flock averages. Heading the trade with 100 or more lambs were the Wharfedale Catons with 210 to average £148.98, followed by the Oddacres Masons with 195 at £139.02, then Ellis Bros, Addingham Moorside, with 162 at £135.35 The leading average for under 100 lambs fell to the Dunsop Bridge Walkers with 70 at £162.86, then the North Craven Booths with 81at £157.90, and Jeff and Judith Throup, Silsden Moor, with 40 at £139.75. A standalone competition for the best run of lambs, judged by James and Will Hall, also fell to the prolific Catons.

The pre-sale prize show was busy, with 24 pens of sheep brought out. Tens were judged by Denise Elliott, Mungrisedale, and John Harry Hitchen, Luddendenfoot, 20s by Ian Woodward, Belper, and Stuart Rogers, Barnstaple. Show main sponsors were Skipton NFU Mutual, supported by Carr’s Billington, WBW Surveyors,  Armstrong Watson Accountants, Shepherd Partnership Accountants and Harrison Drury Solicitors.

CCM Skipton’s second official NEMSA gimmer lamb sale is on Tuesday, September 19.