Keelham maintains Skipton prime champions buying spree Keelham Farm Shop in Thornton, Bradford, embarked on yet another champions’ buying spree when once again securing both the prime cattle and lamb title winners at Skipton Auction Mart’s July shows.

The Brighouse & Denholme Road shop’s James Robertshaw made it six out of six when snapping up the prime cattle victor – they have bought every monthly champion to date this year – the first prize 600kg Limousin-cross bullock shown by Simon Bennett, of Delph Farm, Silsden Moor, for the day’s top per head price of £1,389, or 231.5p/kg.


He was landing his third Skipton prime cattle championship of 2014, the latest frontrunner being by his highly regarded stock bull Gunnerfleet Extra, bred by North Craven’s Ian Handley and also responsible for Mr Bennett’s previous champions.


Mr Robertshaw then transferred his interest to the prime lamb ringside to purchase the champion pen of five 40kg Beltex-cross lambs from Tim Robinson, of Springs Farm, Dillworth Bottom, Longridge, for £120 per head, or 300p/kg, both representing the day’s leading prices. The Red Rose breeder has now won three consecutive monthly prime lamb titles at the North Yorkshire venue.


Award-winning Keelham Farm Shop, which remains the single most prolific buyer of prime livestock champions and other prime cattle and lamb prizewinners at Skipton, has now embarked on building its brand-new £4 million farm shop in Gargrave Road, Skipton, on the edge of the auction mart site.


It is due to open in January next year and will feature a cookery school and cafe, an activity barn, fresh food, bakery, delicatessen and butchery, with meat sourced from local farmers and suppliers and the family's own farm in Cowling. The flagship farm shop is set to create 67 new jobs and over the coming months will be sourcing new suppliers, enabling the shop to become a retail showcase of the best regional food. 


Keelham made three prime cattle purchases in total, also adding Simon Bennett’s third prize Limousin-cross bullock at £1,349, or 219.5p/kg, along with the third prize Limousin-cross heifer from Pateley Bridge’s Bernard Simpson at £1,218, or 234.5p/kg. Mr Robertshaw also paid £81 per head for the third prize pen of Continental-cross 41kg prime lambs from J&T Booker, of Silsden.


The reserve prime cattle champion was the first prize British Blue-cross heifer from Pendle father and son Mac and Ben Townsend, of Barnside Hall Farm, Laneshawbridge. Purchased at an earlier Skipton store cattle sale and further improved by the Townsends, the 530kg runner-up made £1,296 or 244.5p/kg, top price by weight, when joining Halifax meat wholesalers J&E Medcalf & Son. It is destined for one of their regular butcher customers Stephen Dorsey, who trades in Halifax Borough Market.


The Townsends also presented the second prize bullock, another British Blue-cross also acquired by J&E Medcalf & Son for £1,240, or 221.5p/kg, while Pateley Bridge’s Bernard Simpson was responsible for the second prize Limousin-cross heifer, knocked down at £1,231, or 236.5p/kg.


In a standalone cull cattle show, the champion was a Blonde-cross cow from Fred Stephenson, of Beech Farm, Farnley, Leeds. Having proved a loyal servant and produced some nice calves, the 12-year-old home-bred victor fell for £993 or 131.5p/kg.


Ashley Caton, of Otterburn, topped both the cull cow per head and by-weight prices with a Limousin-cross sold at £1,091, or 151.5p/kg, with dairy-bred highs of £1,050, or, for a black and white cow from G Abbott & Sons, of Dacre.


The 46 cull cows forward again met with a ready trade when selling to an overall average of £682.33 per head, or 107.33p/kg.


The prime cattle show classes were judged by two well-known Irish Limousin breeders, Athlone’s Pat Feehily and Gerry Griffin, from Roscommon, who were en route to this year’s Great Yorkshire Show.


The prime lamb show was again sponsored by Wynnstay and judged by Gargrave’s Mick Winchester. After first setting his sights on his Mr Robinson’s supreme champions – the Red Rose vendor has sold some 1,200 prime lambs at Skipton so far this year - he then awarded the reserve championship to the second prize Continental-cross pen, 38kg Texel-x-Beltex from Ellis Bros, of Addingham Moorside. They sold for £92 per head to Felliscliffe’s Andrew Atkinson, purchasing on behalf of Sam Howarth Wholesale Butchers in Diggle, Oldham.


Mr Winchester buys for Woodhead’s Butchers in Colne and secured all three of his chosen prize-winning Suffolk-cross pens for them – the 44kg red rosette winners from James Earnshaw, of Flasby, at £81.50 each, the 41kg runners-up from TH&A Pickard, of Bolton-by-Bowland, at £72.50, and the 41kg third prize pen from John Mellin, of Black Lane Ends, at £74.80.


Trade was much tougher than anticipated for the 3,226 prime sheep on show and buyers were able to be more selective as numbers increase, with 38kg to 43kg lambs appearing to be optimum weight range at present. Some runs of smart lambs sold at either side of 200p/kg, with other nice sorts making 180-190p/kg and commercial prime lambs 170-180p/kg. The overall selling average was £71.12 per head, or 177.3p/kg.


The 556 cast ewes and rams forward featured a plainer turnout of females, with many fresh weaned ewes among the entry, together with some large runs of horned ewes and medium type Mules, which represented decent value for feeding. There were fewer heavy ewes, which sold either side of £100 and to a high of £103.50 per head for a Texel pen from local vendors George and John Stapleton, of Skibeden.


The overall cull ewe average was £47.23 per head, with cast rams averaging £62.50 and trading to a high of £93 for a Charollais from Bolton Abbey’s JC Crabtree & Son.