Success for Skipton store lamb seasonal opener The onset of the big sheep sale season at Skipton Auction Mart began with the traditional store lamb pipe opener, the first major sale of its kind in the north, which again attracted nationwide interest. (Wed, July 15) All eyes were on opening trade from a packed ringside of buyers, producers and interested onlookers from all walks of life, and the 3,348 lambs forward were quickly snapped up at an overall average of £58.88 each, an increase of £2.15 per head on last year’s corresponding fixture.

Strong lambs were generally around £60 plus, medium lambs £56-£59, with smaller lambs selling in the early to mid-£50s. A few pens of long keep lambs could be picked up in the £40s.

Prices peaked at £70 per head twice for Texel pens from Adrian Leech, of Hebden Bridge, with the 2,384 Texel store lambs on offer selling to an overall average of £59.94 per head, while 390 Suffolk averaged £59.81, 166 Charollais £55, 71 Hampshire £55.99 and 20 Mule £47.65.

However, it was Beltex lambs – 297 in number – that produced the day’s leading overall average of £60.80 per head, with a high of £66 each for a consignment from Tom Heseltine, of JGE Heseltine, based at Hesketh House, Bolton Abbey.

These April-born lambs, all by home-bred Beltex lambs out of Texel ewes, were also awarded first prize in the annual show for pens of 40 or more lambs and formed part of a 142-strong consignment on the day from the Heseltines, which sold to an overall average of £62.04 per head. The family, which also runs the popular visitor attraction, Hesketh Farm Park, will this season sell all their 1,000 lambs at Skipton.

Standing second in show was James Hall, of Darnbrook, with 40 Texel-cross that each made £64, though it was the third prize Texel-cross pen, 45 in number, from 2014 champion Robert Greenwood, of Marton Scar Farm, West Marton, that topped the show prices when selling at £68 each.

Show lambs were judged by John Bowling, of Ashton-in-Makerfield, with animal ID firm Top Tags sponsoring.

A turnout of 6,000 head is anticipated for Skipton’s next fortnightly store lamb sale on Wednesday, June 29. Also on the agenda is the annual show and sale of Down-cross lambs, along with a special sale of breeding ewes and rams suitable for early tupping.