Ken and Kenny on the ball for Taitlands herd at CCM Blue Wednesday showcase North Craven’s Martin Sharpe and his partner Emma Milligan – they are due to marry in July – received an early wedding present when their Taitlands herd clinched a supreme championship and top price double with a brace of 2015-born British Blue bulls at Skipton Auction Mart’s 2017 pedigree beef season opener, the annual ‘Blue Wednesday’ show and sale. (Wed, April 26)

The couple, who run a small herd of just half a dozen pedigree Blues near Stainforth, north of Settle, clinched the title with the strapping all-white November, 2015, Taitlands Kenny, before seeing Taitlands Ken, a younger 18-month-old home-bred carrying the same bloodlines achieve top call of 4,500gns.

Ken is by the Hazelwood Freshman son, Boothlow Dynamo, currently standing with Norbreck Genetics, and used to good effect on the Taitlands herd. The dam, Droit Hilda, acquired from her Irish breeders, is herself an AI daughter of another well-proven Norbreck sire, Heros Du Peroy, whose cows are much favoured by Mr Sharpe.

The leading performer on price, un-haltered so not shown, but who eclipsed last year’s 4,200gns top price bull, joined Martyn Jennings, of Cowling, a familiar face at Skipton, and will go to work on his dairy herd with a view to producing premium British Blue-cross calves.

The Davidson L’Ecluse son, Heros Du Peroy, was also the sire of Mr Sharpe’s first prize bull, male champion and overall Blue Wednesday title winner, the first time shown Kenny, out of a home-bred dam, Taitlands Geraldine, by Littlebank Danny and mother to six calves.

The victor sold for 3,500gns and will be put to work on the herd of another well-known dairy farming family, brothers Shaun, Peter and Paul Sowray, of Bowes Green Farm, Bishop Thornton, who have clinched multiple rearing calf championships at Skipton.

Show judge Richard Frankland, of Rathmell, tapped out the second prize bull as his chosen reserve champion. It came from Mark and Elaine Hartley, who run the Pendle herd at Pendle Valley Farm, Roughlee, Nelson.

Fresh from the farm and shown by their 20-year-old daughter, Izzy, an animal science student at Harper Adams University in Shropshire, Pendle Ko Jack is a natural born son of their former well utilised stock bull, the 6,500gns Blue Stone Union Jack, who is himself by Baron Du Bois Bauloye and has bred bulls to 8,000gns.

Out of the home-bred Brutus Van Het Pasveld daughter, Pendle August, from a good maternal line and one of the Pendle herd’s oldest stock cows who is still going strong at the age of 12, Ko Jack copped a successful bid of 2,700gns from TB Moorhouse & Son, of Dacre.

Nick and Emma Parker’s Blue Diamond herd at Heights Farm, Silsden, produced Blue Diamond Klass, a February, 2015, bull by the Twyning Ash Troy son, Drift Domino, out of Norbreck Gaga, an Empire D’Ochain daughter, which was claimed for 3,700gns by the Keighley family, from Pool-in-Wharfedale.

The Parkers then boosted their own holding with a successful 2,400gns bid for the female champion from husband and wife, Allan and Deirdre Wilkinson, who run the 20-strong Springfield herd at the farm of the same name in Out Rawcliffe, near Preston. Their November, 2015, Springfield Karrianne, by Visconti De St Fontaine, is out of the home-bred Gitan Du Pti’t Mayeur daughter, Springfield Elsa, mother to five good heifers and Mrs Wilkinson’s favourite cow.
Back with the bulls, also catching the eye at 3,200gns was an October, 2015, entry from Dylan Townend, who runs the Clifftown pedigree herd at Quarry Farm, Broughton, near Malton. His Clifftown Kinky is by the 21,000gns Henlli Wishmaster, another well-bred son of Baron Du Bois Bauloy, whose own dam was the renowned Bringlee Sandy. Out of Auchenplay Hankypanky, by Tamhorn Ethan, Kinky found a new home in Farnley, Leeds, with F Stephenson.

Offering depth in quality to suit both premium suckler breeders and dairy farmers, the sale attracted a good crowd, with seven 2015-born ready for work bulls selling to an overall average of £3,924 per head, compared to the previous year’s £3,465. Maiden heifers averaged £2,520, with cows with heifer calves selling to 2.200gns.

The show formed part of Skipton’s fortnightly Wednesday cattle sale, which attracted another strong turnout of 717 head.

A good quality entry of 191 young feeding bulls was easily sold, with strong short keep bulls in solid demand. Joint top price of £1,290 fell to a Limousin-cross from S Littlewood, of New Mill, Huddersfield, and a Blonde from Austwick mother and son, Janet and James Huck, with the top price pen of three Limousin-cross from TH&K Wood, of High Birstwith, each making £1,170. Continental-cross young bulls averaged £1,013 per head overall and natives £776.

The 462 store cattle on offer met with a flying trade from start to finish, with anything smart quickly to the mark, while grazing types took another lift with grass day just around the corner.

Bullocks sold to a high of £1,245 on three occasions for a brace of British Blue-cross from Matthew and Tracy Harrison, of Elslack, and a Limousin-cross from Bolton-by-Bowland’s Richard Lund, with Andrew Fawcett, of Bishop Thornton, presenting the top price pen of three £1,240 per head Blue-cross bullocks. The section average was £1,027 for Continental-cross and £884 for natives.

Store heifers peaked at £1,480 and £1,440 for Blue-cross entries from South Humberside’s David Sandham, with James and Deborah Ogden, of Austwick, selling the top price pen of three Limousin-cross at £1,100 each. Continental-cross heifers averaged £959 and natives £765.

With 30 beef breeding cattle on parade, the pick of the females was a Limousin-cross heifer with her Limousin-cross bull calf at foot from the Stockdale family in Burnsall, which made £2,100, while a 2011-born British Blue bull from G Whalley, of Newton-in-Bowland, made £2,200.

While a more varied selection than the previous sale, another large entry of 45 beef-bred feeding cows attracted an increased attendance of buyers, which ensured a fast-selling trade. The best smart cows to feed made £1,100-plus, trading to a top of £1,350 for a British Blue from Stuart Gill, of Dacre. There were more half bred cows about, but tidy sorts were easily cashed. The section produced an average of £939 per head for Continental entries and £857 for natives.

The mart reports that breeding cattle numbers are on the increase, as pedigree sales coincide with the Spring cow and calf season.
Skipton’s pedigree beef season continues next Wednesday, May 3, with the second annual show and sale for native breed cattle, both pedigree and stores. (note to weekly editors: please tailor re tenses, depending on usage date)

Next up is the annual two-day early season Limousin showcase on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 9 and 10, with the opening day featuring the annual show-only Northern Limousin Extravaganza for 2016-born halter-led pedigree and cross-bred cattle. The afternoon will also allow pre-sale viewing of entries for the following day’s Craven Limousin Day highlight, the annual Spring show and sale of pedigree Limousin bulls and females.

The mart’s pedigree beef season comes to a close on Wednesday, May 24, with the Lingfields Beef Cattle Fair, the annual multi-breed show and sale of pedigree beef breeding cattle, coupled with the late Spring sale of breeding bulls, with additional classes for feeding bulls, beef feeding cows and store and breeding cattle.