North Craven Smiths strike again at CCM Skipton prime cattle opener The privilege of consigning the first prime cattle champion of the New Year at Skipton Auction Mart, fell, as it also did at the 2021 opener, to North Craven father and son hill farmers, Francis and Andrew Smith, of Lodge Farm, Masongill, close to the Yorkshire-Lancashire border above Ingleton.

They took the New Year title with their first prize 520kg Limousin-x heifer acquired last September from BR Lawson & Son, of Whashton, Richmond, and further improved on the farm, before returning to their regular selling venue, where the victor made top by-weight price of 333.5p/kg, or £1,734, to Phil Gregory, of D&A Gregory & Sons Butchers in Bacup.

The reserve champion, a 560kg Limousin-x heifer consigned by RT&J Critchley & Sons, of Hutton, will also go on sale at the same retail shop in St James Square when again claimed for 313.5p/kg, or £1,756 by Mr Gregory, who also added a third entry to his shopping list.

The same two vendors also accounted for the best placed steers, the first prize male, a 565kg Limousin-x from the Smiths, acquired last October from Janet and James Huck, of Austwick, making 317.5p/kg, or £1,794, when sold to show judge Anthony Swales for Knavesmire Butchers in York, with the Critchleys’ second prize steer, a 555kg Limousin-x, getting away at 308.5p/kg, or £1,712, to Robertshaw’s Farm Shop in Thornton. Both purchasers took home a brace each.

Once again, the volume buyer was Ralph Pearson Wholesale Butchers in Bradford, snapping up 15 of the 28 under 30-month clean cattle on offer. Their haul included both the top gross price steer and heifer, the former a 605kg Brtish Blue-x from Threshfield brothers Charles and Richard Kitching, at £1,806, the latter a 630kg Blue-x from the Baines family in Gisburn at £1,780.

The turnout produced very good retail demand for handier weighted smart sorts, with heavier cattle a shade easier than the pre-Christmas trade, while 19 cull cows on offer met a good if not flying trade, selling to an overall average of 115.93p/kg, or £754.48.

The same day’s offering of 3,281 prime sheep saw 2,564 hoggs average 271.9p/kg, no change on the week, or £118.98 per head. Of some excellent top end prices, Paul Simpson, of Bolton-by-Bowland, led the sale with two pens of 48kg Beltex at £180 and £178, or 428p and 423p per kilo.

Cast sheep trade stepped up a gear, the heaviest ewes all away at £140-£160 and pure Texel ewes from Spiros Spyrou, of Hebden Bridge, selling to £201.50, the section averaging £95.94. Cast rams averaged £101.95.