All eyes on Skipton store lamb seasonal opener The big opening seasonal store lamb show and sale at Skipton Auction Mart produced a record entry of 4,087 for the annual fixture, a huge increase on last year’s 2,231-strong turnout. As ever, the sale drew nationwide interest, with all eyes firmly fixed on the opening trade, which saw lambs sell to an across-the-board average of £56.73 per head, compared to the previous year’s £68.18.

Craven Cattle Marts’ livestock sales manager Ted Ogden explained afterwards: “Although there is plenty of grass about, the pressure on prime prices was always going to be the balancing effect on trade and, on reflection, an average of nearly £57 will more than likely prove a workable point for both buyers and sellers alike. “


There were 30 successful buyers on the day, with a few others leaving empty handed, clearly illustrating early season demand for store lambs.


The show class for 40 or more store lambs produced a reversal in fortunes for the principals when Robert Greenwood, of Marton Scar Farm, West Marton, reserve champion in both 2012 and 2013, secured championship honours at the latest renewal, while Michael Parker, of Winterburn Hall Farm, Winterburn, champion for the past two years, had to settle for the reserve championship this year.


Tony England, of Tiverton in Devon, again made the long trip up country to judge the show classes and was spot on with his first choice when Mr Greenwood’s victors, a mix of Charollais and Texel-cross-Beltex lambs, topped the sale at £72 per head. They fell to Stephen Maskill, a butcher in Hebden Bridge and regular buyer at Skipton.


Mr Greenwood, who consigned over 200 lambs, also sold further pens at £68, £63.50 and £61.50 each


Mr Parker’s 50-strong Suffolk-cross pen sold at £63.50 each, top price in class. They were part of his annual consignment of 300 lambs, all Suffolk-cross, with other pens sold at £61.50, £60.50 twice and £60.


The third prize pen of 56 Beltex-cross lambs from Bolton Abbey’s Chris and Tom Heseltine made £65 per head, though class prices peaked a shade higher at £65.50 each for an eye-catching pen from TF Steer, of Spofforth.


Charollais lambs sold to a high of £58.50 each for a pen from Austwick’s James and Deborah Ogden, while Richard and Val Brown, of Kirkby Malham, topped the Mule prices with a £48 per head pen. Hampshire pens sold to a high of £50.50 per head, these from John Craig, of Rathmell.


Individual breed averages were: Texel £56.59, Suffolk £59.27, Beltex £60.76, Charollais  £57.06, Mule £43.15 and Hampshire £50.26.


Show classes were sponsored by animal ID firm Top Tags, based near Kelso. Attention now turns to Skipton’s second major store lamb show and sale scheduled for Wednesday, July 23, with another strong entry of between 6,000 and 7,000 lambs anticipated.


Also on the agenda is the annual show for Down-cross lambs, with the Robert Morphet Memorial Trophy again to be awarded for the best pen of 50 Suffolk-cross lambs. A special sale of early breeding ewes is also scheduled.