Ribble Valley Irelands take opening show honours at CCM Skipton Ribble Valley father and son sheep farmers, Richard and Mark Ireland, who run the Shamrock pedigree Beltex flock at Heys Farm, Whalley, had the honour of becoming Skipton Auction Mart’s first show champions of 2022 at the opening monthly prime lambs highlight.

They took the title with their first prize Continental pen of five Beltex-x lambs, out of Texel ewes and by a Shamrock tup by Penyghent Dunhill, acquired at Skipton two years ago from the Bradley family in Giggleswick. Weighing in at 43kg, the victors sold for £160, or 372p/kg, to Knavesmire Butchers in York.

Judge Nick Dalby, of Hartwith, remained in the same show class when awarding the reserve championship to his second prize pen, 45kg Beltex-x lambs from Alfie Kiernan, five-year-old son of Skipton regulars Tony and Kay Kiernan, of St Michael’s. Young Alfie has been keeping sheep since turning four, though his reserve champion lambs were the first he had ever shown and sold at auction, going on to make £158, or 351p/kg.

The third prize Continental pen, 46kg Beltex from Ellis Bros, of Addingham Moorside, headed the prices in the 46-52kg weight range when making £165, or 358p/kg.

A standalone show class for North of England Mules was won by M Ryder & Son, of Haverah Park, Harrogate, with 55kg lambs sold for joint section top of £125.50 to Felliscliffe’s Andrew Atkinson, who also paid the same price for the third prize 55kg pen from Lincolnshire’s Steve and Marie Dorey, again travelling up from Norton Disney. Kevin Wilson, of Blubberhouses, stood runner-up in class, his 48kg charges joining the judge.

The third show class for horned lambs fell to the Crisp family in Calton with 47kg Swaledales sold for £111, the runners-up, 37kg Scottish Blackface from JE Greenwood, of Denholme, making £95.50. Both again fell to Mr Atkinson.

The New Year opener attracted a solid entry of 3,831 prime sheep, the majority 2,805 hoggs among them trading to an overall average of £118.57, or 271.2p/kg.

Top price per kilo was in the lightweight category when Sean Forshaw, of Longridge, made 393p/kg, or £130, with his 33kg Beltex pen. It was the over 52kg heavyweights that produced the day’s leading per head price of £167 for Texels from the Hutchinson family in Faceby. Smart heavy butchers’ lambs were a good trade throughout.

Also penned for sale were 1,026 cast ewes and rams, which again got away on a par with previous sales, with buyers active ringside and keen for numbers. The best Texel ewes sold to £191.50 from Mark Crabtree, of Harrogate, with rams topping at £227.50 for a Texel from A Sharp, of Mellor. Cull ewes averaged £100.26 and cast rams £113.50.