CCM Skipton’s latest weekly Monday sale of almost 2,500 prime sheep again confirmed the exceptional strength of the current market when 1,915 hoggs produced the trade of the season so far, with a by-weight across the board average of 335.4p/kg, an SQQ of 344.7p/kg and an average price per head of £146.52.

This compared to 317p/kg (SQQ 321.68p/kg), or £136.60 per head, the previous week, which was itself £30 per head up on the same day the previous year.

Handyweight lambs in particular were very good to sell, producing a double top of £5 per kilo, £210 per head, for 42kg Beltex crosses from Newsholme brothers William and Mick Oldfield, whose total run of 109 averaged 391p/kg and included others to £200 and 487p/kg twice. The Beltex average was £154.50 per head, 383.6p/kg.

Medium/standard 36-45kg lambs were a stunning trade throughout, the smartest goods selling at 400-500p, good skinned sorts 355-400p and commercials mainly 310-350p, a few pens either side of 300p. However, the weight range average of 344p/kg, or £101 over the weight, clearly indicated the strength of the trade, this also including hill lambs falling into the weight range.

A shortage of sheep in the over-52kg category saw trade match the relative scarcity as they averaged 306.6p/kg, £181 per head, or for easy reckoning the equivalent of £121 each over the weight.

The Faceby Hutchinsons had yet another field day when making their regular trip down from south of Middlesbrough to present their regular run of well-fed Continental and Suffolk Mule hoggs, again being in among the thick of the leading prices when seeing 105 head average a sparkling £192 each, with 22 pens selling at £190-plus to a top of £209, second highest of the day, for 56kg Beltex. They also headed both the Texel and Suffolk section prices, three pens of the former selling for £200 upwards to £206, the latter to £198.

Back with the overweights, the Rathmell Maudsleys made £188 with 63kg lambs, Sandy Harrison, Cowling, selling a 61kg pen for £188, the best of the rest £170-£186, in total 46 pens away at £170-plus.

There was no let up among the 46-52kg heavies, which averaged £153.98, 321.3p/kg, and peaked at £195 for 51kg Continentals from Lea & Son, Barnsley ,Taylor Bros, Tosside, making £180 and £171for 48kg and 50kg pens, the Hugill family, Hellifield, producing their usual good consignment of well-fleshed heavies to sell at £176 for 49kg lambs. The majority of the better lambs in this weight range were mid-£150s to mid-£160s. Lightweight 32-35kg lambs averaged £117.88, 342.4p/kg, a lovely pen of 35kg Beltex from M&S Eddleston, Great Harwood, making £164, 468p/kg.

The solidity of overall trade was represented in the averages, with, among the Continentals, Texel levelling at £150.28, 329.6p/kg, Suffolk £155.73, 312.6p/kg, and Charollais £149.65, 337.2p/kg.

Hill lamb trade also stepped up a gear, solid demand and very sharp prices seen for both North of England Mule and Masham, especially if well-fleshed. Mules averaged over £3 per kilo, £130.69, the Hutchinsons claiming yet another section top of £157 with a 52kg pen, John Hitchen, Luddendenfoot , next best with 49kg lambs at £148. The Masham average was £124.50, 304.2p/kg, with a per head high of £139 from James Pate, Gisburn, and by-weight top of 314.3p from Tom and Sophie Holgate, Halton West.

The Heath Partnership, Macclefield, topped the Swaledales at £139, A Guy & Son, Elslack, selling Lonks at £145 and £140, Joe Bosworth, Rossendale, claiming £168 with 56kg Gritstones and £170 for 54kg Cheviots.

Also penned for sale were 558 cast sheep, cull ewes meeting a similar trade on the week when averaging £92.38, with a top of £219.50 for Texel from Russell Peel, Pateley Bridge, plenty of smart sorts making £160-£190. Mule ewes sold to a top of £119.50 from DF&HJ Swinglehurst, York, Swaledale to £87.50 from Jeff and Judith Throup, Silsden Moor, Scottish Blackface to £76.50 from John Roebuck, Stalybridge. Cast rams averaged £110.10.

Also on parade for the opening ewe and lamb sale of the new season were 36 breeding sheep, 14 outfits comprising 11 twins and three singles. A healthy start it proved to be, twins averaging £260 and topping at £300 for Texel-x from Andy Brown, Gargrave, with singles, all from Calderdale’s John Hitchen, levelling at £198.