Threshfield Kitchings clinch top price double at Skipton BFL highlight The Kitching family, from Grisedale Farm, Threshfield, notched up a notable top price double with a shearling ram and ram lamb, both well-bred sons of their prolific and much utilised Smearsett H8 tup, at Skipton Auction Mart’s annual show and sale of Blue Faced Leicester rams and females. (Tues, Sept 29).


They claimed overall top call of 1,500gns at the evening sale with a shearling ram sold to North Yorkshire hill farmers A Newbould & Son, of Dallowgill, Kirkby Malzeard, also achieving a section-topping 1,100gns with a ram lamb claimed locally by John and Claire Mason for their well-known Oddacres holding in Embsay.


Smearsett H8, acquired as a shearling four years ago from the Booth family in Feizor, north of Settle, has proved a loyal servant and made a major impact at Grisedale Farm. Still in action, a number of his daughters, plus others by his own sons, were in the Kitching pen that just a week earlier had picked up a first-ever 10’s championship for the family at Skipton’s second annual ewe lamb fixture for members of the North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA).


The Kitchings – brothers Richard and Charles, and their sons Frank, Jack and Thomas – run a small flock of Blue Faced Leicesters, breeding both their own tups and buying in others, which go to their long-established flock of Swaledale ewes to produce the all-purpose North of England Mule, for which the family has long been noted as breeders. Frank Kitching remains chairman of NEMSA’s Skipton branch.


Trade at this year’s BFL sale was said to be good, without seeing some of last year’s extreme prices, with the fixture also featuring four socially distanced show classes for both rams and females judged by a familiar face at Skipton, Addingham Moorside’s Dick Ellis.


He awarded the championship to the first prize ram lamb from Richard Hutchinson’s Kirkby Redgate flock based at Kaber, near Kirkby Stephen, who was successfully defending the inaugural title he won last year when travelling down to make his debut at the breed highlight.


His latest victor, among the first crop of sons of the £10,000 acquisition, Hewgill M3, himself a full brother to the £30,000 M1, became a further highly promising Mule getter to remain in the area after joining another well-known face at the mart, Calton’s Robert Crisp and his daughter Ellie for 1,000gns.


The Walker family, from Brennand Farm, Dunsop Bridge – Geoff and Margaret and their two sons, Rob and John – again did well with a 1,400gns sale of their second prize-winning Midlock H2-sired shearling ram, which didn’t have far to travel either when claimed by Anthony and Heather Hewetson in Bank Newton. The Hewetsons also went to 800gns to purchase the top price aged ram, a 2-shear son of Hundith J8 from Francis and James Caton in Weston, Otley


The Walker family also hit the headlines Skipton’s high profile opening NEMSA gimmer lamb fixture earlier this month when sending out the champion pen of 10 for the second year running, one of which was by H2.


The Oddacres Masons themselves arrived with another strong consignment of shearling and ram lambs, doing best at 1,200gns with their first prize shearling, a Swathburn L3 son that became a further addition to the Newbould family flock. They also made 800gns with a ram lamb by Macqueston M1 that sold jointly to Cumbrian breeders Neil Marston in Cockermouth and Alec Brown, from Thornhill.


For good measure, the Masons picked up both first and second prizes in the females show class, the former a ewe lamb again by the Scottish-bred Macqueston M1, the latter a shearling ewe by their old Asby Hall H3. Both made a joint section-topping 220gns.


Kevin Wilson, who runs the Hewness flock in Blubberhouses with wife Daphne and son, James, consigned a brace of shearling rams by Smearsett H1, the best of which made 1,100gns when joining JR Addison & Sons in Barnard Castle. Also among the four-figure achievers were John and Rob Lancaster, from Bordley, with a 1,000gns shearling ram by Otterburn Lodge K12 sold locally to Matt Mason in Appletreewick


Otterburn Lodge’s Ashley and Rachael Caton themselves caught the eye with a further 1,000gns sale of a ram lamb son of Smearsett J1, which joined near neighbour Phillip Metcalfe. The Catons also made their mark in the show classes when picking up two third prizes with a shearling ram son of Otterburn Lodge L4, sold for 900gns, and a 2-shear ram by Cottage K18 at 700gns.


Among a number of fresh faces at the fixture was NE Harland, of Glaisdale in the North York Moors National Park, who consigned a run of traditional-type tups and, with a growing band of producers looking to cross on to white-faced ewes, they found favour when selling to 900gns.


Back in the show classes, the first prize aged ram and reserve champion came from the three generation Webster family – Eddie, Mark and Ben in descending order - based at Whittaker’s Barn Farm, Cracoe. Their 2-shear Asby Hall H3 son, purchased at Skipton as a ram lamb, made 350gns.


It was bettered at 700gns by the runner-up in the same show class, a Midlock G33 3-shear from Nigel Peacock, who runs the Maunby flock in Thirsk, and who also stepped up with the second prize ram lamb, a Sherwood J2 son again sold for 700gns. The remaining prize winner with the third prize ram lamb was David Lodge, of the Whitbeck flock in Otley, his Gargareth L3 son making 400gns.


Shearling rams averaged £513, ram lambs £437, aged rams £372, ewe lambs £231 and shearling ewes £224.


The fixture attracted another solid turnout of 196 BFL rams and females, and both vendors and buyers from a wide area, many of the latter again seeking breeding stock from vendors responsible for quality runs of North of England Mule ewe lambs at the annual Skipton NEMSA sales.