MULE sheep prices were outstanding at the big opening seasonal highlight for Mule ewe lambs at Skipton Auction Mart, on Tuesday.
Many people felt it was the best-ever trade since the North of England Mule Sheep Association first began staging its annual fixtures at Skipton 27 years ago, certainly the highest since the mart moved to its current edge of town site in 1990, and quite probably in its entire 120 year-plus history.
With more than 20 pens of 10 in the show classes, the champions were shown by Geoff Walker, of J.W. Walker & Son, Brennand Farm, Dunsop Bridge, selling at £222 each to Martin and Val Brown, of Beechwood House Farm, Newton-le-Willows, Bedale.
The Walker farming family was over the moon with its first-ever Skipton NEMSA championship success, for which they received both the Chester Kneller Memorial Trophy and Ciba Geigy Perpetual Trophy. It’s a title they’ve been trying to win for a number of years, having finished sixth in the past two years.
Their 2011 victors will be put to Beltex rams by the Browns, who specialise in the breed. Chances are many of their prime lambs offspring will return to be sold at Skipton next year.
The overall average selling price of the 6,235 gimmer lambs presented by NESMA members was £120.51 per head, almost £29 per head higher than the corresponding fixture last year, which was itself nigh on £20 a head more than the 2009 sale.
Prices peaked at £245 a head and a total of 26 pens sold at £150 each or more. General trade for tupping lambs was £130 to £150, medium lambs £120 to £130 and running lambs £108 to £120.
Skipton branch NEMSA chairman Jeff Throup, of Silsden Moor, said: “Selling prices were above and beyond what we expected as breeders. We were highly delighted. I have never seen a show with so much quality right down the line and I can’t recall seeing the Skipton ringside so busy since our inaugural sale at the new mart in 1990.”