As lambing time approaches on north country hill farms, flockmasters had the last chance to swap bloodlines with a good turnout of Swaledale ewes at Kirkby Stephen auction mart last week.

Organised by the Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association, the sale was restricted to registered females with the distinctive crown mark branded onto a horn.

A strong entry of gimmer shearlings produced the day’s top price when Willie Gill of Ireby, Carlisle, paid £1800 for the championship-winning shearling from Ken Brown’s flock at Barningham, North Yorks.

Second in the shearling class was an entry from Mossdale Farms, Hawes, realising £1600 to G Sibson of Keswick.

The reserve championship went to a ewe from the Hutchinson family’s Redgate flock at Kirkby Stephen. She made £700 to David Hanson, Fylingdales, North Yorks.

The second-placed ewe from John Bradley, Penyghent, realised £800 to Mr Sibson.

Leading the gimmer hoggs in first and second place were entries from Bob Marwood & Son, Barningham, which realised £700 and £850 to R Sellars and Messrs Lightfoot, respectively.

(Harrison & Hetherington)