Fantastic double for Fox brothers at Skipton Christmas prime lamb showcase East coast showmen take top honours in hill lamb section Two fine pens of lowland lambs clinched a sparkling supreme championship and reserve championship double for the Fox farming brothers at Skipton Auction Mart’s annual Christmas primestock shows and sales. (Sun, Nov 27)

Last year’s supreme champion Martin Brown, of Dovecote Barn, Leyburn, was invited back to judge the lowland show classes this year and, together will hill lambs judge David Palmer, of Scarborough, they picked a tremendous trio of trimmed Beltex-crosses from Fox Farms in Withgill, near Clitheroe, for leading honours.

Mr Brown noted: “The champions were just what I was looking for – full of meat, wide and very well presented.”

Weighing in at 44kg, the title winners, the first prize Continental-cross trimmed 40kg or more class victors, sold for a sale-topping £340 each to Tim Hamlet for his retail butchers shop in Garstang, Preston.

Mr Hamlet said the lambs would be in the shop for Christmas. He added: “We didn’t come here hoping to buy the champions. We didn’t even consider it really, but we liked the look of them, so had a go.”

Fox Farms is owned by brothers Robert, Peter and Edward Fox, and has been in the family for more than 60 years. They home-breed most of their sheep, with their flock primarily made up of Beltex and Mules. They also raise beef cattle.

As well as the supreme champions, the brothers also scooped reserve with their winners of the heavyweight untrimmed Continental-cross class, 46kg Beltex that sold for £150 per head, second top price, to York farmer and butcher Anthony Swales, who made multiple prize-winning acquisitions of behalf of his Knavesmire Butchers shop in Albermarle Road.

Robert Fox said: “We’re honoured to win. It’s been a good show with lots of entries, so to get them picked out is great.” Peter Fox added: “We’ve had a few winners here before, but never a champion and reserve together. We thought we had some good lambs, but you can never be confident until they take the judge’s eye.”

David Palmer’s chosen hill lamb champions were a trio of 52kg Scotch Blackfaced lambs from Ken Flintoff, of Egton Bridge, near Whitby, which sold for a section-topping £115 per head to Skipton-based meat wholesaler Swaledale Foods, which sourced several pens.

From the same part of the world, Whitby’s Mike Allen was crowned reserve hill champion with his first prize 57kg Masham trio, which fell to the show judge for £110 each and were among several hill pens Mr Palmer took home.

Back with the Continental-crosses, in the 39kg or less untrimmed class, the first prize 38kg Beltex from Ellis Brothers, of Addingham Moorside, and the 36kg runners-up from Rob Lambert, of Wigglesworth, both fell to Anthony Swales at £140 and £120 respectively.

The same buyer also claimed the second prize trimmed 40kg or more lambs from Taylor Bros, of Tosside, at £130, further adding the second and third prize 39kg or less trimmed lambs from Rob Lambert again, and Scott and Laura Robinson, of Barnoldswick, both at £140.

Kirklees meat wholesaler Thomas Shepherdson, of Wellcross Farm in Marsden, the 2015 lowland sheep judge, returned to buy more prize-winning Continental-cross pens at the latest renewal – the second prize untrimmed 46kg lambs from Mike Allen again at £130 and the third prize 37kg untrimmed lambs from Skipton’s Gavin Haworth at £80.

Keelham Farm Shop also claimed three prize-winning pens for its shops in Skipton and Thornton – the third prize Continental-cross 45kg trimmed lambs from Richard and Mark Ireland, of Whalley, at £120, and the second and third prize 51kg and 48kg Suffolk pens from Anthony Thompson, of Salterforth, and Skipton’s Geoff and Margaret Lawn at £104 and £102 respectively.

The Irelands were also responsible for the first prize Continental-cross untrimmed 39kg lambs, which joined Andrew Sanderson, of Sandersons Butchers in Baxenden.

Kitsons Butchers, which has three shops in Stockton-on-Tees, Hutton Rudby and Northallerton, paid £125 for the first prize 53kg Suffolks from Thomas Walmsley, who trades as D&A Livestock in Haverah Park, while Vivers Scot Lamb in Annan paid £135 for the third prize 43kg Continental-cross untrimmed pen, again from Mr Lambert.

Welsh wholesaler St Merryn Foods was the principal buyer of prize-winning hill lambs, purchasing six pens in total, among them the first prize pen of 41kg Dalesbreds from Kevin Wilson, of Blubberhouses, at £74 per head.

Their other acquisitions were the second and third prize 46kg Lleyn pens from Threshfield’s Charles and Richard Kitching at £82 and £80, along with a trio of third prize winners - 44kg Mashams from Derek Harker, of Middlesmoor, at £72, 44kg Swaledales from John Smith, of Carleton, at £78, and 43kg Dalesbreds from Richard Close, of Starbotton.

Further buys by judge David Palmer were the second and third prize Mules, both weighing 51kg, from Robert Crisp, of Calton, at £84, and Kevin Wilson at £85, and the third prize 44kg Swaledales, again from Mr Crisp, at £70.

The same vendor also stepped up with the first prize 58kg Mules, which fell for £95 to Swaledale Foods, as did the first prize 42kg Swaledales from Carleton’s John Smith at £85. The local wholesaler also added the second prize 50kg Mashams from Michael and David Wilson, of Beckwithshaw, to its shopping list at £88.

Kevin Wilson was also responsible for the second prize 44kg Dalesbreds and these sold for £88 to Millstones Restaurant and Mill 67 in Kettlesing, Harrogate.

The annual highlight attracted a total entry of 201 butchers’ lambs. Special prizes were also awarded by CCM Auctions, Masham Sheep Breeders Association, Northern Area Texel Sheepbreeders and the Northern Beltex Club.