Numbers and selling averages up at Skipton store lamb opener Increases in both numbers and selling averages were seen, as Skipton Auction Mart’s main sheep sale season got off to a solid start with the traditional pipe-opener for store lambs. (Wednesday, July 10) A total of 3,071 lambs was penned for sale, compared to the previous year’s turnout of 2,126 head, with all breed averages showing an across-the-board increase on 2018 to level at £64.59 per head overall, an increase on the year of £3.09.

The annual pre-sale show for pens of 40 or more lambs fell to exactly 40 from Andrew Haggas, of Grove Farm, Otterburn, who, with lambs further forward than usual, was showing at the annual highlight for the first time.
His April-born Dutch Texel-x-Beltex crosses were by a selection of both home-bred and bought in tups, the latter from both John and Jean Bradley in Giggleswick, and Wannop Bros, from Morecambe.
Mr Haggas runs a 450-strong flock and has been breeding Dutch Texels for some 15 years. “You get the Beltex shape and a bit more growth with them,” he said.
The victors sold for the day’s leading price of £90 per head to show judge Neil Tattersall, from Ellerton, York, who regularly sends out prime lamb champions at Skipton – he also bought the top price £78 per head pen at last year’s corresponding fixture.
Mr Tattersall awarded second prize to the Heseltine family, of Hesketh Farm Park in Bolton Abbey. The runners-up, part of a 109-strong Beltex consignment, sold for third top call of £80 each, with the third prize pen of 40 three-quarters Texel lambs from Bradley’s Sam Berry making £72.
Of the top end, Michael and Elaine Dugdale arrived from Giggleswick with nice run of Texel/Beltex crosses, selling one pen at £82 per head, the day’s second highest price.
With more grass about this year, lambs were definitely looking fresher and in better form, though there was still a wide variation in both the size and quality of lamb on offer, these comprising some runs of short and medium keep Suffolk and Continentals lambs, mixed with genuine long keep lambs from higher lying farms. A few hill-bred-lambs with Mule wethers and lambs from Cheviot ewes were also penned for sale.
The strongest lowland lambs were generally in the £70s, medium to long keep lambs in the £60s and genuine long keep lambs in the mid-£50s. Mule wethers found a ready following, nice sorts trading in the mid to late £50s, topping at £59 for Scotch-bred Mules from regular Welsh vendor Hywell Williams, of Llangadog.
Individual breed averages were: Beltex £75.65 (2018 £67.83), Texel £63.95 (£61.65), Suffolk £64.18 (£61.48), Mule £55.16 (£44.96), Charolais £57.93 (£55), Blue Texel £74.
The seasonal opener was again sponsored by Top Tags Animal ID. Store lamb sales will now continue fortnightly at Skipton, with an entry of up to 7,000 head anticipated for the second fixture on Wednesday, July 24. Also on the same day’s agenda is the special Lingfields sale of early breeding ewes and rams.