Ewe lambs – all 5,320 of them from the pick of the region’s sheep farmers - were in the spotlight for their annual show and sale day at Skipton Auction Mart. Standalone shows for Masham, Dales Mule and Swaledale ran alongside the third seasonal fixture for North of England Mule gimmer lambs. Trade was level across all breeds, producing averages very similar to 2013.

Kevin Huck, of Knowle Bank Farm, Bordley, continued his excellent run of form when presenting the first prize pen of ten Swaledale gimmers, which sold for the day’s top call of £230 per head to Dick Burley, of Wath, Pateley Bridge, a regular buyer at the fixture.


Mr Huck had a field day at Skipton the previous day when presenting the champion pen of prime lambs and the first prize Swaledale prime lambs, along with the first prize aged ram and top price shearling ram at the mart’s annual Swaledale ram showcase. The majority of Mr Huck’s ewe lamb victors were by the same Joe Nattrass tup responsible for his top price ram.


Next best on price at £200 each was the first prize pen of Masham gimmers from the all-conquering Verity family from Middlesmoor in Nidderdale. Brothers Roland and William Verity, along with their sons David and Keith, were landing their seventh consecutive title at the Masham Sheep Breeders’ Association-sponsored show.


Their latest victors, which received the Kemp Spokes Trophy, were all by home-bred Teeswater rams and joined another regular supporter, Keith Liddle, of JB Liddle & Partners in Stainburn, Otley,


The Verity family was also responsible for the second prize £135 Masham pen and the second prize £128 pen of Dales Mule gimmers, which they began breeding this year for the first time and were by tups from James Dewhirst in Winterburn and John Harker, of High Lofthouse.


It was the second annual fixture for Dales Mules, which continue to grow in popularity among Dalesbred sheep breeders for crossing with Blue Faced Leicesters. The inaugural victors in 2013 were Jeff Ryder and his sons Josh and Richard, of Central House Farm, Haverah Park, Harrogate.


They repeated the feat again this year with lambs by a nice selection of tups from the Walker family in Dunsop Bridge, Joe Throup on Silsden Moor, Kirkby Lonsdale’s David Lawson, Ellis Bros, of Addingham Moorside and Francis Caton, of Weston. All out of home-bred ewes, the red rosette winners sold for £128 each to Raymond Johnson in Felliscliffe.


The Ryders retained the Josephine Bartlett Memorial Trophy, which was donated by her family for the first time last year in memory of the late local magistrate, who lived in Kettlewell. It was presented by her grandson Simon Spence, of Silsden Moor.


The third prize pen of Dales Mules from NEMSA Skipton branch chairman Kevin Wilson, of Blubberhouses, achieved top price in class at £130 per head when joining Rochdale’s T Mitchell.


Silsden Moor’s Joe and Nancy Throup, joined by son George, exhibited the red rosette-winning pen of North of England Mule gimmer lambs, all by a trio of home-bred ram lambs. They sold for £134 each to John Harrison, of Thornton-in-Craven.


The second and third prize pens from Jeff Throup, of Silsden, and Robert Crisp, of Calton, both sold away at £130 each, with Mule gimmer prices peaking at £140 per head for pens from both SW&JE Ryder, of Norwood, and Threshfield’s Charles and Richard Kitching.


Back with the Swaledales, also catching the eye at £155 per head was the second prize pen from John and Sarah Tennant, of Bordley, which joined Threshfield’s Angus Dean. The third prize pen from Ian Wilson, of Winterburn, sold for £115 each to Darnbrook’s James Hall.


Numbers and averages: 174 Masham lambs averaged £84.97 (+£1.89 on 2013), 3,782 North of England Mule £85.67 (-£2.23), 391 Dales Mule £91.85 (+£2.49) 963 Swaledale  £66.45 (-£4.04), 10 Dalesbred av £40.00.


Masham and Dalesbred lambs were judged by Alec Lambert, of Bainbridge, Mules by Nick Brown, from Worcestershire, and Swaledale by Burnsall’s Richard Stockdale. Sponsors were Armstrong Watson Accountants and JACS Trade & DIY, both based in Skipton.