Woofa Bank Mules clinch Christmas prime hill lambs championship at Skipton Silsden Moor’s Ken and Lynne Throup, of Woofa Bank Farm, won the hill bred lambs supreme championship with their first prize North of England Mules at Skipton Auction Mart’s annual Christmas show. (Mon, Dec 14)


The Throups clinched the title with a trio of 56kg wether lambs by tups bred by their daughter and son-in-law, Rachael and Ashley Caton, whose own local Otterburn Lodge flock has itself claimed multiple North of England Mule Sheep Association ewe lamb championships at Skipton’s annual September highlights.

The Throups, who have been breeding prize-winning Mules at Woofa Bank for the past 44 years – with their sons Ian and Martin they also run a large commercial dairy herd - saw their festive hill lamb title winners first receive the Anthony Dean Perpetual Challenge Trophy for the best pen on the day, presented in memory of the former Craven Cattle Marts chairman from Threshfield. 

They then sold for £128 per head to Skipton-based wholesalers, Swaledale Foods, which made multiple prize-winning acquisitions, including another first prize pen, 48kg Swaledales from Rob and Richard Ellis on Addingham Moorside at £108 each. Ellis Bros, who have been performing well with sheep at their local auction mart of late, also received the Skipton Auction Mart Trophy.

In addition, Swaledale Foods claimed both the second and third prize 48kg and 51kg Masham pens from David Wilson, of Beckwithshaw, and BC Ashby, from Norwood, at £101 and £105 respectively, along with the third prize 49kg Mules from M Ryder & Son, of Haverah Park, at £100 and the third prize 49kg Swaledale pen from Linton’s Thomas Booth at £96.  

The business specialises in the supply of native breeds meat and for over a decade has been working with some of the best chefs in the country, among them many at top London restaurants.

Show judge Nick Dalby, from Hartwith, said the victorious Mules had only just edged out his chosen reserve champions, the first prize Masham wether lambs again from David Wilson, who trades as JM Wilson & Sons at Crimple Head Farm, Beckwithshaw. Out of Dalesbred ewes by home-bred Teeswater tups, the trio crossed the weighbridge at 55kg before joining Brayton Farm Shop, near Selby, at £128 each.

Mr Wilson also sent out the victors in the Dalesbred show class for the third consecutive year. Out of home-bred ewes, the 45kg red rosette winners became another Brayton Farm Shop buy, as did the day’s overall top price performer, a single 50kg Beltex-cross lamb from Trawden’s Hayley Baines at £140, or 280p/kg. The same combination also sold and bought lambs at £134.

David Wilson is a true stalwart of both breeds, which his family has been producing over many generations. He is the current chairman of the Dalesbred Sheep Breeders; Association, as well as a former Masham Sheep Breeders Association chairman.

A standalone show class for any other hill breeds was won by Robert Fielden, of Todmorden, with a trio of 44kg Lonks claimed by Hellifield’s Paul Watson, purchasing on behalf of Lancashire Direct Halal Meat in Blackburn at £89.50. The same buyers also took home the third prize pen of 36kg Dalesbred wether lambs from Kettlewell’s Richard Close at £73.

Mr Close, the current Dalesbred Sheep Breeders vice-chairman, was also responsible for the second prize 43kg Dalesbreds, which joined regular buyer Andrew Atkinson, of Felliscliffe, for £82 each.

Back with the Mules, former NEMSA national chairman Kevin Wilson, of Blubberhouses, consigned the 53kg runners-up, which sold at £97 to Halifax wholesalers J&E Medcalf. The second prize 47kg Swaledales from Adrian Leach, of Hebden Bridge, sold for £93.50 to Scotbeef in Bridge of Allan, who also paid £86.50 for the second prize any other hill breed class winners, 42kg Gritstone from Jim and Christine Scrivin, of Elslack. The third prize 42kg Scottish Blackface from the 2019 reserve hill lamb champion Bob Stubbs, of Crowton in Cheshire, made £94 to Oldham meat supplier M Rafi.

The Christmas show for hill-bred prime lambs was this year staged separately to the lowland prime lambs festive fixture. NFU Mutual in Skipton was the mainline sponsor of all Christmas prime shows at the mart.

The general weekly sale also featured lots of quality lowland lambs, with plenty of three-figure prices achieved, in particular for lowland butchers lambs. The overall average for the 3,784 prime lambs sold was £92.83 per head or 216.42p/kg, while for comparison the SQQ (up to 45.5kg) was 221.4p/kg.