Swaledale females take centre stage at Skipton An increased entry of 3,926 head, over 300 up on the year, was penned for sale at Skipton Auction Mart’s annual Saturday Swaledale females highlight for draft ewes and gimmer shearlings., (Sat, Sept 30) Good sheep were a nice trade all day, with some solid runs recording an increase in their selling average on the year, and it was only the lesser sorts towards the end of vendors’ runs that were cheaper.

In fact, trade was seen to be much sharper than most people expected, producing an overall selling average of £107.81 per head, a fall of just 28 pence on 2016, with an increase in numbers sold of 10%.

Show champions for the second year running – they also took the title in 2014 – were husband and wife Stuart and Debbie Robinson, of Foredale Farm, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, with their first prize pen of ten home-bred 3 crop ewes. Four were by a Paul Harker Punchard tup, two by a John Bland ram, another two by a Geoff Marwood tup, and the other two by Thomas Iveson and Robert Cowperthwaite rams.

The victors sold for £190 per head, top price in class, to buyers from Derbyshire, R&A White & Son, of Bamford. The Robinsons, who currently run some 330 breeding ewes, also chipped in with the second prize pen of ten gimmer shearlings, again by a good cross-section of tups. These made £200 each.

Chris Akrigg, who farms high in the Yorkshire Dales with his wife Gwyneth and sons Tom, John and William at Manor Farm Cray, sent out the first prize and reserve champion pen of ten gimmer shearlings, all home-bred by Lightfoot, Foggy Gill, Brogden and Dent tups. These went on to make the day’s joint top price of £240 per head when claimed by Ellis Bros, of Addingham Moorside, regular buyers at the fixture.

The Akriggs, who established their Swaledale flock when moving to the area in 1986 – they keep around 900 breeding ewes, all hill-bred  – were also responsible for the second prize ewes, knocked down at £185 each. They also sold a second shearling pen at £190.

The third prize ewe pen from John Bland, of Crowden in Derbyshire, made £165, the fourth prize winners from the Cowperthwaite family on Malham Moor £160.

Derbyshire show regular Neil Richardson, of Reapsmoor, Buxton, was again among the rosettes with the third prize gimmer shearlings pen, sold for £190, bettered at £200 by the fourth prize pen from James Hall, of Darnbrook, who also sold a second pen for the other £240 per head joint top price.

Other shearling pens catching the eye on price were £210, £200 and £180 per head offerings from former Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association national chairman Alan Alderson, of Barras, Kirkby Stephen, with another at £200 and a further one at £180 from Sandy Harrison, of Cowling. Bordley’s Roy Nelson also hit £185 per head with a pen of ewes.

A large turnout of Swaledale gimmer shearlings averaged £124.67 per head overall. Ewe averages were: 2 crop £112.88, 3 crop £97.82, 4 crop £60.55.
Show judges were Addingham Moorside’s Richard Ellis and his nephew Dan, with Top Tags Animal ID and Skipton-based WBW Surveyors co-sponsoring. The next major Skipton highlight for Swaledale sheep breeders is the annual evening sale of up to100 shearling and aged rams, on Monday, October 9, with judging from 5pm.