Mules to the fore at Skipton gimmer shearling highlight
Skipton Auction Mart’s 2012 breeding sheep season began with the traditional pipe opener, the annual show and sale of gimmer shearlings, one of the largest fixtures of its kind in the North of England, which this year attracted a total entry of 5,217. (Tues, Aug 21)
While the overall selling average of £140.55 per head was £5.86 down on 2011, Mule shearlings were again to the fore, with the 4,344-strong turnout well up on last year and selling to an overall average of £140.93 each, a shade over £15 per head down on last year.
Prominent once again were many NEMSA-tagged consignments from regular vendors, a good number of which were returning to the mart after being purchased at Skipton’s 2011 Mule gimmer lamb show and sale, itself one of the premier fixtures of its kind in the UK.
With strong competition, the champion pen of Mules was presented for the first time by John and Elizabeth Greenhalgh, of Rugglesmere Farm, Bashall Eaves in the Ribble Valley. They sold for the day’s joint top price of £205 per head to co-judge Ken Throup, who runs 300 Mules and 600 Swaledales at Woofa Bank on Silsden Moor.
Mr and Mrs Greenhalgh, who have been exhibiting at the annual highlight for a decade, sell all their Mule shearling gimmers at Skipton and their 2012 title winners received the Edgar Boothman Memorial Trophy, again presented by Edgar’s brother James Boothman, of Linton.
The Greenhalgh’s 90-strong consignment was also responsible for the fourth prize pen, sold at £185 per head to Angus and John Dean, of Threshfield, regular buyers at the annual showpiece, who also acquired the other joint top price £205 pen from East coast sheep farmer Mike Allen, of Borrowby Grange, Staithes, along with the third prize pen from Frank Brennand, of Chapel-le-Dale, at £190 each.
The same price was achieved by the second prize Mule pen from defending champion James Hall, of Darnbrook in Littondale – he also won the Skipton title in 2008 and 2009 and was runner-up in 2010. They sold to Craven Cattle Marts’ chairman Anthony Hewetson, of Bank Newton. Mr Hall sold further pens at £190 and £175.
Although a smaller number of Continental-cross sheep were forward than last year, they were generally of better quality, reflected by an increase in the overall selling average in the 688-strong Texel shearling class of £141.63 per head, up £13.43 on 2011.
There was another first-time winner in the Continental section when a pen of Texels from Norfolk breeders Henry Harvey & Son, of Waxham Hall, Waxham, caught the eye of show judge, renowned breed showman Mark Keighley, of Leathley, Otley.
Shown by Ben Harvey, they sold for £180 each to GV Barker, of Guiseley The Harveys, who were making their fourth visit to the annual Skipton fixture with a consignment of 250 shearlings, sold other Texel pens for £180, £170 and £148.
They run around 300 commercial ewes, predominantly Texels, all well as breeding their own Mules, being familiar faces as both vendors and buyers at Skipton’s annual Mule gimmer lambs highlight. The family farms 500 acres in Norfolk, 300 acres of which are given over to arable use.
Nick Dalby, of Hartwith, sold the second prize Texel pen to David Newhouse, of Malham, for £185 per head, joint top price in class with the third prize pen from Bob Newby, of Wetherby, acquired by JA Gibson & Sons, of Church Fenton. The fourth prize pen from Ken Gamble, Easingwold, sold for £172 each to L & B Abbott, of Fewston.
Mr Dalby performed with distinction when selling further Texel pens at £170 twice and £162, Charollais pens at £162, top price in class, £160, £150 and £142, and Suffolk pens at £170, also best in class, £152 and £150. Charollais shearlings averaged £252.72 per head and Suffolks £121.74.
The red rosette winner in a prize class for Masham shearlings was Margaret Watkinson, of B & M Watkinson, based at Brimar Sessay, Thirsk. They sold for a class-topping £175 per head to Edgar Moore, of Settle.
Mrs Watkinson is well-known on the Masham show circuit, having presented the champions at the previous weekend’s Gargrave Show, as well as the overall reserve champions at this year’s Otley Show. She is also in demand as a breed show judge.
This year’s fixture was sponsored jointly by Skipton-based JACS Trade & DIY Warehouse and the Hawes branch of animal feeds firm Carrs Billington.
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