Familiar faces take leading honours at Skipton Easter prime cattle highlight Beef farming families who have ruled the roost at Skipton Auction Mart’s prime cattle shows so far this year again clinched principal honours at this week’s annual Easter show and sale. (Monday, March 29) Yorkshire Dales brothers Charles and Richard Kitching, took the overall title with a British Blue-x heifer, while North Craven father and son, Francis and Andrew Smith, sent out the reserve champion Limousin-x bullock.


The Kitchings, of Grisedale Farm, who stood both champion and reserve at the previous monthly show at the beginning of March, returned to claim another victory at the seasonal highlight with an exceptional 570kg heifer originally acquired from Tom Robinson in Slaidburn. 

It sold for the day’s top call of 293.5p/kg, or £1,673, to James Robertshaw for his Robertshaw’s Farm Shop in Thornton. The weekly buyer purchased four in total, two for Robertshaw’s, the other two for Skipton-based Keelham Farm Shop.

The hill farming Smiths, from Lodge Farm Masongill, above Ingleton near the Yorkshire-Lancashire border, clinched reserve honours with their 560kg steer, which made 278.5p/kg, or £1,560, when becoming one of a brace claimed by the show judge, Red Rose retail butcher Phil Gregory for his D&A Gregory & Sons Butchers in Bacup.

Both the Kitchings and the Smiths have not only picked up multiple tickets in recent years with their prime cattle in the Skipton show area, but have also consigned many top-selling cattle at weekly prime sales. Both families buy in quality store cattle, feed and further improve them on their respective farms, before bringing them back to market as top-notch retail quality beefers.

The Kitchings say they are currently finishing some 150 Blue and Limousin crosses. It’s the same story with the Smiths. “We have more to come,” said Andrew Smith.

Back at Skipton on Monday, top price among the heavy cattle at 264.5p/kg, or £1,627, was a 615kg Limousin-x heifer also sold by the Kitching brothers, which became one of eight acquisitions by Ralph Pearson Wholesale Butchers in Bradford. 

A total of 19 under 30-month clean cattle were forward with an average weight of 570kg. All again sold well, steers trading to an overall average of 246.23p/kg and heifers 248.3p/kg. Other butcher buyers with two apiece were the mart-based Barkers Yorkshire Butchers and A&D Meats in Rossendale.

Trade for the 15 cull cows penned for sale continued to fly and while there was less meat on offer in the dairies the better end were still able to command 140p/kg-plus, with lean and steaking cows 130p/kg or thereabouts, producing an overall selling average of 132.46p/kg, or £925.48 per head.

The top gross priced dairy entry, a black and white consigned by Craven Dairy Auction regular Peter Baul, from Bishop Thornton, made £1,033, with per kilo dairy prices peaking at 142.5p/kg for another black and white from Nick Parker, of Silsden. Natives entries were also well sold, a heavy Aberdeen-Angus from the Skipton-based Lawn family topping the section at £1,364, or152.5p/kg, while Beef Shorthorn made to 143.5p/kg.

While same morning’s weekly rearing calf sale attracted an anticipated smaller pre-Bank Holiday Monday entry of 16 head all were well sold to highs of £410 and £405 for a brace of British Blue-x bull calves from regular Eastby vendor Andrew Ayrton. 

Blue heifer calves were also in demand, averaging £300, with some young Angus heifers selling to £160 and black and whites to £110, these averaging £68 overall. An entry of 70-plus youngsters is anticipated this coming Easter Monday.