Metcalfe Suffolks top performers again at 2nd Skipton store lamb show Skipton Auction Mart’s second major seasonal store lamb sale of 2015 saw a repeat win in the show class for pens of 50 Suffolk-cross lambs for RD Metcalfe & Son, from Grange Farm, Brearton, north of Harrogate. Robert Metcalfe, who fulfilled a long-held ambition when sending out last year’s champion pen for the first time, emulated that success at the latest renewal with a strong packet of lambs that earned high praise from show judge David Pennington, of Mill House Farm, Chaigley, Clitheroe. “There were some very good lambs in the show, but the victors were the most even and best drawn pen. Every lamb was alike,” noted the adjudicator.

As in 2014, the red rosette winners were all products of the family’s best home-bred Mule ewes, by a selection of Suffolk rams, including one acquired for 1,080gns at Skipton’s annual multi-breed rams showcase last October from new Lancashire breeder Lee Bethell, of Sandy Lane, Brindle.


Robert, who runs the sheep side of the business with his parents Alan and Linda Metcalfe, received the Robert Morphet Memorial Trophy from Craven Cattle Marts’ chairman Anthony Hewitson, before seeing his 50 charges go on to sell for £59.50 per head, second top price of the day.


The Metcalfes’ 700-strong flock comprises 500 Mule ewes, this year supplemented by 200 Swaledale ewes. They will be appearing regularly at Skipton’s fortnightly store lamb sales in the run-up to Christmas, with a crack at this year’s big NEMSA Mule gimmer lamb highlights in September also on the cards. In addition, the family runs the Brearton commercial dairy herd, currently with 250 cows in milk.


The fixture attracted a tremendous entry of 6,287 store lambs and although the prime sheep trade remains under pressure, Craven Cattle Marts says customers are reporting that there is plenty of grass in grazing areas. As a consequence, there was a tremendous ringside of buyers, with 51 successful purchasers by the close of sale and several others who went away empty handed.


However, the hard facts were that the sale average was £50.67 per head, a fall of around £8 per head on the opening sale a fortnight earlier. “Nevertheless, it was encouraging to see the volume of buyers requiring lambs and even though they are wanting them at reduced rates there were buyers present who will likely mop up larger entries in forthcoming sales,” noted CCM’s livestock sales manager Ted Ogden.


James Foster, of Bolton Abbey, was responsible for the second prize pen of Down-cross lambs, which sold for £59.50 per head, while third prize was awarded to multiple past champions Michael and Carol McKenzie, of Arncliffe, their charges selling for £54.80 each. The McKenzies’ annual consignment of 300 Suffolk-cross lambs averaged £53.08 per head overall.


The day’s leading price of £61 per head fell to a pen of 23 Beltex-cross store lambs from P Metcalfe, of Langbar.


Almost 300 breeding sheep were also on parade, selling to a high of £130 for Suffolk shearlings.

The show classes were again sponsored by Laurence Pierce Wool Merchants, represented by Clitheroe’s Grace Dobson, and Top Tags