Winter Texel females double-header launches 2022 pedigree year at CCM Skipton Breed stalwarts shine at Blue Diamonds renewal A pedigree Texel winter females double-header for breed societies at Skipton Auction Mart – the 29th annual open Texel show and sale and the second annual in-lamb Blue Texel fixture – marked a successful launch of the 2022 pedigree sheep year at the North Yorkshire venue.

The ever-increasing popularity and demand for the breed was clearly in evidence at the Blue Texel Sheep Society’s ‘Blue Diamonds’ show and sale, which attracted 68 head, more than quadruple the previous year’s inaugural fixture, and produced the evening sale’s top call of 2,000gns.

It fell to the overall reserve champion, the first prize shearling ewe from Staffordshire husband and wife, Phil and Laura Melland, who run the Morridge pedigree flock in the tiny hamlet of Bottomhouse, near Leek, established over two decades ago and among the UK’s earliest Blue Texel flocks, with some 25 breeding ewes maintained across the years.

Their Morridge Esme, a February, 2020, twin by the Welsh-bred Dragon Buster son, Dragon Cranke, acquired three years ago, out of C.J’s Byonce, purchased when standing first prize ewe lamb at Carlisle and an embryo daughter of H.Y. Pretender, was sold carrying a single lamb to Nantyderri Egor, bought for 2,600gns last August. The top price Skipton performer sold locally to John Wood, who runs the North Valley flock in Trawden.

The Mellands, who also headed the ram lamb prices at 1,000gns at The Blue Texel Sheep Society’s inaugural autumn show and sale at Skipton last September, consigned five 2020-born shearling ewes, all Cranke daughters and all in-lamb to Egor, with all averaging £1,050.

Show judge James Bailey, who runs the Ivanhoe Blue Texel flock at Hunton, Bedale, awarded the supreme championship to the first prize ewe lamb from 19-year-old Max Clough, who runs the Heads flock at Stape, Pickering, and was making his breed debut at Skipton.

His Heads Felicity, a February-born twin by another Dragon Buster son, Dragon Dazzler, acquired for 1,800gns two years ago and bred from an imported Dutch ewe, sold for 1,400gns, remaining in North Yorkshire when going home with Henry Jewitt of Romaldkirk in Teesdale.

Max has been breeding and showing sheep since the tender ago of four, originally starting with the Rouge breed and picking up multiple tickets with them, including reserve female champion at both the Great Yorkshire and Carlisle Premier highlights. He later transferred his interests to Blue Texels after visiting them in Holland, where they were first recognised and recorded in the early 1970s, and recalls being highly impressed with the breed.

As well as recording his milestone first Blue Texel supreme championship, Max consigned a quartet of ewe lambs, with another, the first female to be offered by Sunnybank Eagle, standing fourth in class and making 500gns, all averaging £761.

Scotland’s David Alexander, who runs the Millside flock at Galston in Ayrshire – he is a familiar face at Skipton, standing reserve champion and 2,100gns top price at last September’s autumn highlight – was again in the money, topping his run of eight shearling ewes at 1,900gns, second best in sale, with a February, 2020, Lyles Django daughter – his only one in the consignment.

The grand-daughter of an imported sire sold in-lamb to a home-bred ram to Messrs Davies, of Cardigan in West Wales. Mr Alexander also sold others at 1,400gns, 1,200gns and 1,000gns, his run averaging a solid £1,141.

Two further females hit four-figures, both coming from Stasa Moyse, who runs the Saltire Blue flock at Skene in Aberdeenshire, and sold by her partner, well-known breeder Stuart Wood. First up and making 1,200gns was a 2019 in-lamb ewe, Farm Mill Blues, bred by Giles Hardman, and a Solway Blue Barney daughter.

This was followed at 1,000gns by a March, 2020, imported gimmer shearling by the Dutch-registered Halfman. Both were sold carrying twins to the much admired imported ram ‘The Hulk,’ and both returned to Aberdeenshire and Turriff with Alexander Norrie.

Back in show, the second prize shearling ewe came from Jan Rodenburg’s Turbo Blue flock in Llandysul, Ceredigion. The February, 2020, twin to a home-bred ram, Turbo Blue Czar, was scanned carrying triplets to the imported Turbo Blue Benefactor, awarded the highly regarded Definite Premium Certificate by the Dutch Society in 2019, and made 950gns when joining T&H Kilby & Son in Thorp Arch, Wetherby.

Another March, 2020, shearling ewe from the same home, again by Czar and also scanned with twins to Benefactor, did better at 1,000gns when falling to JW Taylor & Sons, of Bamber Bridge, Preston.

The third prize winner, an April, 2020, shearling from John Wood’s own North Valley flock got away at 750gns, as did the second prize April, 2019, aged ram from the same home. Both were Dragon-sired and both sold carrying twin lambs.

The second prize ewe lamb from GD Stephenson & Sons’ Londesborough flock in Market Reighton, York, sold for 650gns, the third prize winner from Ron Darlington’s Great Blues flock in Hartington, Buxton, making 400gns.

Both shearling gimmer and aged ewe selling averages showed a significant increase on 2021, the former levelling at £859 (2021 £641), the latter at £834 (2021 £682). Ewe lambs averaged £447 (2021 £700).

Included in the sale was a pure Blue Texel shearling ewe donated by Gargrave husband and wife, David and Karen Shuttleworth, who purchased the sheep at a Skipton charity sale in Spring, 2020, and brought it back to be sold for the Sepsis UK Trust in memory of Hannah Brown.

The sheep, sold in-lamb to the 7,000gns Kingledores Beltex ram the Shuttleworths purchased in 2019, was bought, then generously handed back, first going for 800gns to Stephen Taylor, of Bamber Bridge, then at the same price to Aberdeenshire’s Stuart Wood, finally ending up in Cragg Vale, Sowerby Bridge, with Bryan Barrett for a further 750gns, raising 2,350gns in total, with the mart yard staff further boosting the fund-raising kitty when putting £100 into the pot.