Heseltine hat-trick at Skipton store lamb opener Trade gives heart to both vendors and buyers The Heseltine family, from Hesketh House, Bolton Abbey, notched up a notable hat-trick of consecutive victories when again consigning the first prize pen at Skipton Auction Mart’s opening store lamb show and sale. (Wed, July 12)

Father and son Chris and Tom Heseltine have now taken principal honours four times in recent years at the annual highlight, which marks the onset of Skipton’s high profile sheep sale season.

They did it again at the latest renewal with a pen of 40 home-bred Texel/Beltex-cross lambs by a selection of home-bred tups and the red rosette winners went on to sell for £79 per head.

They were among a 170-strong consignment at the opening sale which averaged £70.28 each for the Heseltines, who have lambed over 1,000 sheep this year, primarily Texel-cross, along with 300 Mules. The family farm is also home to the highly popular local visitor attraction, Hesketh Farm Park. Chris and his wife Sue are the fourth generation to farm there.

The 2017 opener attracted an entry of 4,118 lambs, a reasonable turnout for the time of year, with trade deemed to be good considering that a strong prime lamb trade and favourable finishing conditions had continually ‘creamed off’ prime lambs as they came forward through late Spring and early summer.

There was plenty for both buyers and sellers to take heart from, with medium keep lambs selling from £56-£61 and lambs carrying frame and meat making £60-£80.

The overall selling average of £62.84 per head showed an increase on 2016’s £61.76, though the lambs were generally smaller than previous years, reflecting the lighter average prime weights also seen over the past month. Like for like, lambs were mainly £2-£3 up on the year, though smart lambs were £5-£8 dearer, while a half bred first cross lamb was similar in price.

A consignment of 26 Beltex from Draughton’s John and Judy Garnett sold well at £81 per head, with a brace of Texel lambs from Geoff Carr, of Barnoldswick, claiming the day’s top call of £81.50 each.

Back in the show classes, judged by Elslack’s James Spensley, the second prize pen of 49 Texel-cross lambs from Michael and Carol McKenzie, of Arncliffe, made £74 each, bettered at £76 per head for the third prize 48-strong Texel-cross pen from Michael and Elaine Dugdale, of Giggleswick.

Overall individual breed averages were: Beltex £70.45, Texel £62.58, Suffolk £62.44, Charolais £52.91, Mule £50.77.

Also highly encouraging was the number of customers looking to secure the pick of the Suffolk and Texel gimmer lambs at such an early stage of the season. These sold to a high of £86 per head twice for two pens of ten Texel from Alan and Sue Throup, of Silsden.

Such interest from buyers bodes extremely well for Skipton’s second big seasonal store lamb fixture on Wednesday, July 26, when an entry of up to 6,000 lambs is expected, along with more early breeding sheep.

The opening sale was again sponsored by animal ID firm Top Tags, who return to co-sponsor with Laurence Pierce Wool Merchants at the second store lamb sale later this month.