Metcalfe success breaks stranglehold at Skipton store lamb show North Yorkshire farming brothers Robert, Chris and Richard Metcalfe finally got their hands on a trophy they have long been keen to win when sending out the champion pen of 50 Suffolk-cross lambs at Skipton Auction Mart’s second major seasonal store lamb show and sale.

The family, who trade as RD Metcalfe & Son at Grange Farm, Brearton, north of Harrogate, have been runners-up
several times in the past, but this year themselves lifted the Robert Morphet Memorial Trophy awarded at the annual highlight.


“It’s the best pen I’ve ever brought and we really wanted to win it this year,” said Robert Metcalfe after the family’s stand-out selection of lambs was given the nod by show judge James Spensley, of Elsack.


Mr Metcalfe said the victors were all products of the family’s best home-bred Mule ewes, which form part of their 500-strong flock, by 15 different Suffolk rams. “We always try to buy the best tups around and some have been acquired at Skipton,” he said.


His confidence was reflected in the sale ring, when, after the trophy had been presented by Clitheroe’s Grace Dobson, local representative of show sponsors Laurence Pierce Wool Merchants, the champion pen sold for the leading breed price of £71.50 each.


The Metcalfe family’s success broke the stranglehold on this particular fixture by Dales husband and wife Michael and Carol McKenzie, of Blue Scar Farm, Arncliffe, who had been champions for the previous six years, an unprecedented run of success.


They only just failed to make it a seventh straight win when pens from their annual consignment and entire holding of 350 Suffolk-cross lambs clinched second and third prizes in the show class. The runners-up made £70 each, closely followed at £69 per head by the third prize pen, while the McKenzies also presented the top price pen of £51.50 per head Mule wether lambs.


Mr McKenzie is flight training manager at private aviation company Multiflight, with day-to-day responsibility for the upkeep of the family’s Suffolk-cross flock in the hands of daughter Brenda and shepherd Roger Gibson.


Also catching the eye in the Suffolk-x classes was a £71 per head pen from James Foster, of Bolton Abbey. The overall breed average was £61.50 per head.


The show formed part of the second fortnightly sale of 4,380 store lambs and breeding sheep. The 4,207 lambs among them met with a slightly dearer trade than the opening sale two weeks earlier when selling at an overall average of £59.24, up £2.51 per head. The overall selling average in 2013 was £56.59.


The day’s leading price of £73 per head fell to a Texel pen from Airton’s Michael Thwaite, with a breed average of £59.04, while Beltex store lambs averaged £60.18 overall, selling to a top of £69 each for a pen from AR&FT Naylor, of Barden.


A pen of Charollais lambs from MAC Iveson & Partners in Masham sold at £66 per head, with a consignment of Dales Mule wethers from R&VJ Brown, of Kirkby Malham, also selling away nicely at £55 each. Mule wethers averaged £50.55 per head.


By far the day’s largest consignment of 900 Texel-cross lambs came from Chris Dawson, of Ferryhill in County Durham, his top price pen of 50 knocked down at £72 each.


The pick of the 173 breeding sheep penned for sale were £140 per head Welsh Mule shearlings from the Peak District’s Ian Gregory, and Texel ewes from Trevor Smith, of Pilling, which made £127 each.


A 7,500-strong entry is expected at Skipton’s next fortnightly store lamb sale, on Wednesday, August 6, which also features the annual Lingfields Summer Sheep Fair for breeding ewes and rams. Entries close on Monday, July 28.