Monyash teenager crowned champion at Skipton Beltex lambs highlight An up-and-coming 15-year-old pedigree sheep breeder from Derbyshire was crowned champion at Skipton Auction Mart’s annual show and sale for Beltex-cross lambs. (Wed, August 7) Owen Wells, from Monyash, who took the title with his 26-strong pen, was just 11 when he first established his own Barley Close pedigree Beltex flock in 2015 with two ewe lambs bought as a Christmas present by his parents, Steven and Steph Wells, who farm at One Ash Grange.

A pupil at Anthony Gell School in Matlock, Owen has built up the flock himself, with a lot of support from both mum and dad and fellow Derbyshire breeder David Thornley, who runs the well-known Dooley Beltex flock in Hartshorne.
The Wells’s buy all their Beltex tups from Mr Thornley and the title-winning lambs, picked out by show judge Hannah Brown, from Leyburn, were by both Barley Close and Dooley sires.
They went on to sell for £85 per head to Johnsons High Class Butchers in Hesketh Bank, near Preston, which travels across the border annually to source lambs at the Beltex highlight.
Established for 150 years, Johnsons has been run by husband and wife, Mick and Ann, for the past 35 years and the champion lambs, among a 44-strong haul on the day, have been put out to lush grass on the family’s own smallholding to be further fattened.
Once they have reached the ideal weight for Johnsons, around 44kg,  they will return to the food chain at their Hesketh Lane shop, starting to appear in around two weeks time and onwards.
“The winners were super lambs, the best in the market. I saw them in the morning. They are our type of lambs. I filled a trailer, but would have liked to get more,” said Mick.
While it was Owen’s first breakthrough success with his Beltex at an auction, he has already done well on the Derbyshire show circuit, last year picking up first prizes with a ewe lamb and ram lamb at Ashby Show, the latter progressing to become reserve champion and also winning at Ashbourne Show.
Owen has claimed further rosettes this year, including winning a local young handler show class, which qualifies him for the winter finals. He also has a pedigree Bluefaced Leicester and last year stood second at the Carlisle premier sale with a ram lamb on what was his debut in the sale ring.
The Wells’s are familiar faces at Skipton, having previously picked up tickets at the annual Beltex store lamb show, as well as winning the mart’s annual show for North of England Mule wether lambs.
They will be returning with a consignment of 120 for this year’s renewal on Wednesday, August 21, as well as bringing up another 75 head of Beltex lambs. Also on the same day’s agenda is the annual show for Down-cross lambs.
Back at Skipton’s fortnightly midweek sheep sale, show judge Hannah was also among the vendors, claiming second top call of £90 for a single Beltex black lamb, though she had to concede top price to her parents, Martin and Val Brown, whose pen of ten Beltex made £94 each. Both fell to the same Welsh buyer.
A total of 6,598 store lambs were penned for sale, trading to an overall average of £58.41 per head, very similar to the previous fortnight’s sale.
Strong lambs were a nice trade as a result of the improved prime price seen the same week, with a number of fleshy pens in the £70 bracket. Medium to long-term lambs weren’t quite as popular on the fortnight, with a handful of smaller pens selling in the mid to late £40s. However, anything with a good skin and thriving was still able to make well into the mid £50’s and beyond.
Just shy of 1,000 North of England Mule wether lambs found a good trade throughout the sale, some strong 50-plus pens from Richard Brown, of Kirkby Malham, and John Mason, from Embsay, selling at £59 and £57.50 respectively, with the Leyburn-based Browns again leading the way on price at £63.50 per head. The overall section average was 53.73.
A nice entry of 481 breeding ewes sold to a packed ringside, with a tidy trade ahead of expectations.  There were joint tops of £145 for shearling pens, first for ten Charollais crosses from B Roberts, of Holmfirth, then for ten Texels from the Craddock family in Bolton-by-Bowland.
Appletreewick’s Matt Mason sold a genuine draft of 1 crop Mule ewes to £122 and 2 crop to £98, while JR Gornall, of Chipping, sold 2 shears to £110. Strong older ewes were a cracking trade, John Turner, from Draughton, selling correct Suffolks to £132 and correct Texels to £120. Padside’s Peter Houseman also sold 3 crop Texels to £132, with Andrew Atkinson, from Kettlesing, seeing his run of ewes sell to £128 for 3 crop Suffolks.