WITH 20 milking animals forward there was plenty of variety on offer at the opening 2024 Craven Dairy Auction on Monday at Skipton Auction Mart, with trade topping twice at £2,400.

Show judge Brian Blezard, Ribchester, affirmed his decision when purchasing for that sum the 35kg December 19 calved daughter of KFH Epic Sassafras from Mark Smith, Winterburn.

With the dam still on the farm yielding 47kg in her fifth lactation, she took top honours in the strong heifer in milk class before going on to be champion for the local dairy farmer, who bagged four Skipton championships last year, ahead of the first prize cow in milk, Winton Crackshot Roxy, who was forward giving 38kg from Peter Waring, Cherry Burton, Beverley.

From Felliscliffe, Harrogate, father and son, Raymond and Robert Johnson found a new home for their widely admired third prize heifer, also making £2,400 joint top when heading to regular West Yorkshire buyer Mark Goodall, Tong. She was 10 days calved and already at 28kg.

Paul, Janet and James Bolland, Airton, continuing the staged dispersal of their Dyklelands herd, had a strong string of 10 milkers forward, peaking at £2,250 for the second prize cow in milk, a 41kg fresh second calver by ABS Onyx purchased by Richard Crabtree, Clifton, Otley, and followed close behind with the second placed heifer in milk from the same home, a 30kg daughter of Claynook Francisco who made £2,220 when falling locally to John Howard, Heslaker, the day’s volume buyer with six purchases.

The sale, co-sponsored by Massey Feeds, NMR and Mulberry Finance, finished with 16 young calves from Crathorne Farms, Crathorne, Yarm, whose 400 head autumn-calving low input herd was overstocked. Sired by a son of the Irish-bred Holstein Friesian, Kilfeacle Pivotal, they twice made to £220, averaging £180 and all bought by two purchasers. The next fortnightly show and sale is in Monday, January 22.

Also on the same day’s agenda was the January prime lambs show, the championship going to Ribble Valley father and son, Richard and Mark Ireland, Whalley, with five 45kg Beltex making £174 section top each to regular retail buyer Knavesmire Butchers, York.

Judge Mick Etherington, Eldwick, awarded the reserve championship to Calderdale husband and wife, Brian and Linda Lund, Walshaw, with 44kg Beltex making £168, the third prize 50kg Beltex pen from another Ribble Valley concern, brothers William and Michael Oldfield, Newsholme, selling at £174, with others at £168 and £158 to a section by-weight high of £4 per kilo.

Just short of 4,200 prime sheep were on parade, with the robust turnout of 3,110 old season lambs setting off the year in great style and selling to a strong overall average of £121.72 per head, or 286.3p/kg (SQQ 284.9p/kg).

The opening sale of 2,200 store lambs took place yesterday (Wednesday), with the first rearing calf show and sale of the year scheduled for this coming Monday. Both will be featured in next week’s Herald and online.