PRIME LAMB PRESS - MONDAY 4TH JUNE 2018

Browns go out with a bang as CCM Skipton prime lamb champions Lancashire husband and wife pedigree sheep breeders, Alex and Gemma Brown, sent out their first – and last – champions at Skipton Auction Mart’s June prime lambs show. (Mon, June 4) For the Browns, of Brookfield Farm, Tockholes, near Darwen, are retiring after a lifetime in the industry and consigned seven of the final ten new season lambs remaining in their flock on what represented their first-ever foray into the Skipton sheep show arena.




Five of the three-quarters Texel, one-quarter Lleyn home-bred 49kg lambs were chosen to represent the Brown show pen and judge James Dewhirst, of Winterburn, had little hesitation in nominating them as his first prize Continental-cross and overall show champions.
All the lambs in the title-winning pen were by a ram called Yagerbomb, bred by and bought at Kelso from Mr Brown’s son, Gavin, who recently established his own Auchencorth Texel flock in Midlothian, Scotland. He and his brother, Scott, also run an established pedigree Suffolk flock.
The Skipton victors went on to sell for £158 per head to regular wholesale butcher buyer Hartshead Meats in Mossley, Ashton-under-Lyne, with the other non-shown pair making £145 each, again to Hartshead Meats .Just three late-born lambs now remain at home with the Browns and these too will eventually come to market
It represents the end of a long and distinguished era for Mr and Mrs Brown, as the curtain falls on a lifetime of success and achievement in their chosen field. They have run their own Brookhill and Stonefieldhill pedigree Texel flocks, along with a Suffolk flock, which in their heyday peaked at 1,500 ewes, including 600 pure Texels and 100 pure Suffolks.
Over the years, the Browns have also achieved many high profile coups with their show lambs, none more so than at the country’s principal Christmas primestock shows. They sent out the supreme champions at the annual Smithfield highlight in London no less than four times, as well as doing the double on several occasions at the Scottish and English Winter Fairs, both with live and deadweight lambs.
“We are sad to be going, but it’s time to call it a day and the many happy memories will remain with us forever. Thankfully, my two sons will be continuing the tradition,” said Mr Brown, who is now 79 years young.
Skipton’s reserve championship fell to the first prize pen of five Suffolk lambs from regular showman and vendor,  Mark Evans, of Tower Gate Farm, Steeton. His 47kg charges, all by home-bred tups, sold for £153 per head to Swaledale Foods in Skipton.
Back with the Continentals, the second prize 41kg pen from Tim Robinson, of Longridge, and the third prize 42kg pen from D&L Coar, of Darwen – both were Texel-cross – were claimed by Vivers Scotlamb in Annan at £150 and £149 per head respectively.
Spring lambs, 573 in total, took a nice lift on the week, with plenty of eager retail and wholesale buyers standing ringside to produce an overall selling average of £120.65 per head, or 288.6p/kg, with many of the best end selling upwards of £145.
Robert Towers, of Farleton, Lancaster, claimed the day’s leading gross price of £159 per head with a Suffolk pen sold to regular buyer Andrew Atkinson, of Felliscliffe, while Frankland Farms in Rathmell, topped the per kilo prices with a 376p, or £146 per head Texel pen knocked down to George Cropper Jnr, who runs Sandersons Butchers in Baxenden,
An increased show of 1,683 prime sheep also included 849 old season lambs, among them 134 mature hoggs, which met a mixed trade. Although there were some excellent prices for several smart and well-fleshed sorts - Mick Thwaite, of Airton, had Beltex hoggs up to £130 per head and William Hickson, of Colne, had a great pen of Mules at £118, or 218p/kg - a commercial type of hogg was a shade easier on the week.
The section produced an overall section average of £85.95 per head, or 192.39p/kg. Mature hoggs levelled at £70.56 each, with a three-figure high of £103 for a single Suffolk from Raymond Gardt, of Eastby.
Also penned for sale were 261 cast sheep. Cull ewes peaked at £125.50 per head for a Suffolk pen from Keith and Jeanette Marshall, of Skipton, the section averaging £75.66 per head overall. Cast rams averaged £70.50.
A solid turnout for early June of 164 outfits of breeding sheep produced a great trade, headed at £195 for Texel hoggs with lambs from Robert Crisp, of Calton, with others from the same home around £190. Some flock age Texels with twin lambs made £180-£190, with Mule hoggs with single lambs selling to a high of £175 from Frank Stubbs, of Rathmell.
Single outfits with strong lambs were a sharp trade, ranging in price from £120 up to £140 per outfit. Some older hill-bred sheep with singles made £80 to £95. The mart says demand for breeding sheep shows no sign of letting up, with more required for next Monday’s weekly sale.