The all-conquering Caton family struck yet again to land a sparkling championship double at the second annual ewe lamb show and sale for members of the North of England Mule Sheep Association at Skipton Auction Mart.
Ashley and Rachel Caton, of Otterburn Lodge Farm, Otterburn, sent out both the title-winning pens of ten and 20 gimmer lambs, just two weeks after presenting the champion pen of ten and the reserve champion 20’s pen at the opening seasonal fixture.
The Catons have now lifted a total of eight pens of ten championships in recent years, an all-time record at Skipton, plus a good number of 20’s class victories, cementing the reputation of their Mule flock as being among the crème de crème in the region.
The family’s latest top performers had similar breeding credentials to their opening show high achievers, being sired by both home-bred Bluefaced Leicester ram lambs and older stock tups, all out of Swaledale ewes.
What’s the secret of their outstanding success? Rachel Caton noted: “Putting quality tups to quality sheep, then farming them well and presenting them well.”
The Catons’ champion tens sold for £170 per head to Claire Morris, of Barnard Castle, a regular buyer of top-notch NEMSA lambs at Skipton, while their victorious pen of 20s made £145 each when finding new homes with Thomas Binns in Downham, Clitheroe.
John and Claire Mason, of Oddacres Farm, Embsay, who presented the top price pen of tens at the opening show, were responsible for the class runners-up at the latest renewal, their charges falling for the day’s second highest price of £190 per head to Margaret Watkinson, of Sessay, Thirsk.
Top price in both class and show at £195 per head was knocked down to the fourth prize pen from Patrick Walker, of W Pand B Walker and Son, Appletreewick. The buyer was Geoff Booth, of Lothersdale, who made it a top price double when paying £148 each for the fourth prize pen of 20s shown by Alan Lodge, of Malham Moor.
The Walkers also presented the second prize pen of 20s, a £145 a head acquisition by J W and A Barker, of Halton, and capped a good day when their 121-strong consignment won the prize for the highest flock overage of 100 or more lambs at £129.61 a head.
Joe and Nancy Throup, of Berwick Intake Farm, Draughton, tens’ champions at last year’s show, this year had to settle for third place in the same class and a selling price of £165 when their pen was purchased by Norfolk’s M J Daniels and Son, of Barningham, Norwich. The same price was achieved for the fifth prize pen from Ellis Bros, of Addingham Moorside, which joined Peter Fox in Withgill, Clitheroe.
The overall selling average of the 8,844 Mule gummer lambs forward was £106.05 per head, which, while a shade over £3 a head down on the opening show a fortnight earlier, represented an increase of £0.75p a head on last year’s corresponding fixture.
Craven Cattle Marts’ livestock sales manager Ted Ogden noted: “Trade was dearer than anticipated. Running lambs sold well throughout the day to achieve between £95 and £105, with very few lambs under £90. The top end made £130 to £150, while a smart tupping lamb, dependant on size and head colour, could be bought for £110 to £125.”
Skipton branch NEMSA chairman Kevin Wilson, of Blubberhouses, who once more finished sixth in the tens’ class, his pen joining KW&A Gill of Wilsden, for £140 each, said he was again very pleased with the quality of stock presented by farmers for NEMSA’s second seasonal highlight.
WA&A Booth, of Feizor, were again to the fore when achieving the second highest flock average in the 100 or more class at £122.64 per head for their 138 charges, with KM&L Throup, of Silsden, next best at £122.49 with their entry of 231 lambs.
The highest flock average for under 100 lambs was achieved by EW&JR Parkinson, of Dunsop Bridge, at £118.13 per head with their 96 entries, followed by A&SL Throup, of Silsden, with 40 lambs at £115.88, and RD Metcalfe & Son, of Brearton, next best with 45 lambs at £111.58.
Judges in the tens’ show class, where entrants were competing for the J Marsden Perpetual Trophy, were Roger Duncan, of Bentham, and Arthur Maud, of Bradley. The WFC Perpetual Trophy again went to the winners of the 20’s show class, judged by Angus Dean, of Threshfield, and Dan Phipps, of Newmarket.