Overall average up £15.76 per head at CCM Skipton gimmer shearling opener The traditional pipeopener to Skipton Auction Mart’s 2019 breeding sheep season, the annual show and sale of Mule, Masham, Continental and Suffolk-cross gimmer shearlings, attracted an entry of 3,040 head. (Tuesday, Aug 20) They sold to an overall average for all breeds of £139.84 per head, a solid increase on the previous year’s £124.08. Trade was undoubtedly helped this year by the better availability of grazing and a good prime trade for the time of year.

Craven Cattle Marts’ general manager Jeremy Eaton also noted: “Last year was also blighted by the diabolical conditions in lambing time and so farmers all over the UK chose not to buy replacements. The drought gave them additional reason to do this.”
North of England Mule shearlings created the usual buzz, with buyers keen to replenish their breeding flocks, the very best end of sheep making £170 to £220, with plenty of others in nice runs selling from £140 to £160, while a commercial sheep was from £120 to £135.
The £220 per head selling price, the best of the day, was achieved by the champion pen of ten in the Mule show class consigned by the Ribble Valley’s John and Bett Greenhagh, and their daughter, Anne, from Rugglesmere Farm, Bashall Eaves, Clitheroe.
They were achieving a hat-trick of class wins at the annual highlight – the last came in 2016 – with their Mules, all bought at the previous year’s NEMSA gimmer lamb sales at both Skipton and Hawes from a variety of well-known and regularly used local breeders.
Former dairy farmer Mr Greenhalgh, now 85 and still going strong, has been using Mules since 2012, purchasing around 100 gimmer lambs each year and further improving them on the farm, before returning them to market as shearlings.
The family’s latest victors received the Edgar Boothman Memorial Trophy, again presented by his nephew Thomas Boothman, of Linton. They sold to co-judge Geoff Booth, of Lothersdale, with a second pen from the same home hitting £188.
The Hall family, from Darnbrook, and Fox Farms in Clitheroe, finished second and third in the same show class – all were for pens of ten - their charges selling at £198 and £180 respectively. Plenty of other Mule pens sold well into three figures, with seven runs averaging over £140. The overall section average of £137.33 per head showed a healthy increase of £15.85 on the year.
The annual Masham Sheep Breeders Association show, staged at Skipton for the first time this year, fell to long-established breeders WD Douthwaite & Partners - Chris, his daughter Amanda, son James and brother Alan - from High Snape Farm, Kirkby Overblow, though they run their Mashams, with around 100 ewes in the flock, on another farm at Menwith Hill.
The family, which also has North of England Mule, Dalesbred and Swaledale flocks, won the same show class at Skipton back in 2017. Their latest home-bred victors, out of Dalesbred ewes put to Teeswater tups, sold for a section top of £165 per head to R Dunnett, of Ripponden.
For good measure, the Douthwaites also sent out the second prize same way bred Masham pen, these making £145 each, selling others at £135 and £130. The third prize pen from KA Liddle, of Stainburn, Otley, made £140.
A standalone show class for non-association Masham gimmer shearlings was won by the Hall family, from Darnbrook Farm, Darnbrook – father James and his sons Will, James and Tommy - with their home-bred pen of ten, again by Teeswater tups, out of Dalesbred ewes. They regularly picks up tickets at the annual highlight, having previously won the same show class. Their 2019 victors went on to sell for £130 per head to Gibson & Berry in Kendal.
They were slightly bettered at £132 by the second prize pen from Matthew Middleton, of Gisburn, with the third prize winners from Stocks Enterprises, also from Gisburn, making £120. The overall Masham average was £124.98, down £2.40 on the year, the only section to see a fall.
Continental sheep were in strong demand, topping at £210 for the first prize pen, three quarters-bred Texels consigned by Lambert and Joy Coverdale and their son, also Lambert, from Crimple Meadow Farm, Beckwithshaw, who were winning the same show class for an unprecedented fourth year in succession.
Like their previous winners, they were all home-bred sheep, many again by a Skipton-bought tup from David Towell’s Moor Top flock at Upper Leys Farm on Glusburn Moor. They sold to Owen Chapman, of Skyreholme, who also purchased last year’s victors. The Coverdales also stepped up with the third prize pen, these selling for £160. The second prize pen from Goosnargh’s Tim Jackson made £185.
Several nice runs of Suffolk Mules found a ready ringside as their popularity in the region increases and prices ranged from £130 to £148 top for a pen from Cheshire vendor Tom Burke, with an overall section average of £142, up £28.69.
Other gimmer shearling averages were: Beltex £156.67 (+ £42.17), Texel £158.45 (+ £23.44), Cheviot Mule £149.57 (+£19.57).
The Mule show classes were co-judged by Geoff Booth, of Lothersdale, and Geoff Lawn, from Skipton, the Mashams by David Wilson, of Beckwithshaw, and Pateley Bridge’s Andrew Fisher, the Continentals by Doncaster brother and sister John and Ruby Wright. The British Wool Marketing Board was the day’s keynote sponsor.