Shields shearing ewes secure Skipton Lleyn title Wharfedale breeders Mark and Steph Shields, of Plum Tree Farm, Timble, won the shearling ewe show class, then the overall championship, both for the first time, at the Lleyn Sheep Society’s annual registered show and sale at Skipton Auction Mart. (Thus, Sept 28) The long-standing society members – they established their flock in 1996 and now run around 100 breeding ewes - lifted the title with five home-bred ewes, mostly by a Laga Farms ram bred by Michael Cursiter, from Orkney.

Show judge, Welshman Alun Bennett, of Meifod, Powys, claimed his chosen champions for a section high of £230 per head. Mr and Mrs Shields also achieved second top price of £220 with another shearling ewe pen sold to D&D Holdings in Ruthin.

The day’s top price of 850gns fell to the second prize shearling ram from Scottish breeder, Hamish Goldie’s Orchard Lleyn flock in Calrencefield, Dumfries. His Lochar Ford, a son of Goldie Empire, joined D&SK Crane in Thirsk.

At what was as usual the last society sale of the current season, South Craven brother and sister, Terry and Beverley Fort, who run the Fort flock at Brighton House Farm in Steeton, won the shearling ram class for the second year in succession – they also claimed the 2016 championship – with Fort Federal, a home-bred son of Lochar Clansman.

Clansman, bred in Scotland by the Goldie family, was an 8,000gns acquisition when bought by the Forts three years ago. He was also responsible for last year’s Skipton title winner, along with two other champions the same year at society shows in Buith Wells and Welshpool.

The siblings retained the Fort Cup for the champion shearling ram. It was donated several years ago by their father Graham, who continues to serve as chairman of the North & East England Lleyn Sheep Breeders Club.

Their class victor sold for 600gns to IO Jones, of Abergele in Conwy, North Wales, though the same vendors fared better at 680gns with another shearling ram, Fort Fortissimo, again by Clansman. This, too, returned to North Wales with AL&RL Lewis, of Llandrindod Wells in Powys.

Terry and Beverley’s parents, Graham and Mandy Fort, who run their own Brightonhouse flock in Steeton, were again among the honours with the first and second prize ewe lamb pens. The red rosette winners, also reserve champions, were all April-born as twins - one by Clansman, the remainder by home-bred tups. They sold for £115 each to W Shaw, of Kirkbymoorside. However, it was the runners-up that made to price in class of £120 per head when joining MW Barnes in Darlington.

The Forts Snr also sold a brace of shearling rams at 680gns and 650gns, with the former, another well-bred son of Clansman, joining C&SD Leckenby in York. They also finished second in the shearling ewe show class with a pen sold for £185 per head to P Knowles, of Kendal.  

Standing third in the shearling ram class were North Craven’s HM Dugdale & Son, of the Borrins flock, based at Stackhouse, near Ingleton, with their Tacho Destroyer–sired Borrins Firefighter, who found a new home in Cumbria with Ulverston’s J Woodburn for the second top price of 750gns. The Dugdales sold a second shearling ram at 650gns.

Back with the shearling ewes, the prices followed the prizes, with the third prize pen from JK Goldie, of Dumfries, selling for £175 per head to Longmire Farm in Ulverston.  Welsh breeder AW Davies, of Morna Nefyn, Pwllheli, sold shearling ewe pens at £165 and £160. The stronger ewes ready to go to the tup were easily reaching £130 and above.  Buyers were there to pick up the smaller ewes and they were selling at lesser prices.

There was a confident trade with the ewe lambs, with tupping type lambs regularly selling at £90-plus and many pens in the £100 bracket.  Considering the recent drop in the prime lamb trade, few lambs were sold for under £80, with many running lambing changing hands from £80-85.

John Geldard, who trades as JA&R Geldard & Sons and runs the Wray Castle flock at Low Foulshaw Farm, Gilpin Bridge, Kendal, had the second prize ewe lambs, sold for £110 each, also to W Shaw.  J Morton, of Penrith, sold two pens at £108/head, one to W Shaw again, the second to Fellbeck’s SJ Burton.  The Geldards also sold a shearling ewe pen at £160.

The fixture attracted another good turnout of 560 head and produced improved averages on the year. Shearling rams averaged £433, (2016 £397), shearling ewes £144.96 (£129) and ewe lambs £92.45 (£78).

Lleyn Sheep Society Promotions & Development Officer, Heather Stoney-Grayshon, said: “A move to the Lingfields ring at Skipton helped to generate a warm and active atmosphere.  The bidders were selective, paying good money for quality sheep, with sale averages being up across all sections on the day.”