A new breed female record of 1,050gns was set at the opening Southdown Sheep Society sale of 2014, Maidstone, which saw strong demand for well-bred, commercial sheep.

Setting the new benchmark was the pre-sale show champion, a shearling ewe from Messrs Wakeham-Dawson and Harmer’s Ridings flock. The shearling ewe, Ridings 13/01460 is a daughter of the flocks’ successful French import sire Benoit, and is out of a homebred dam by the homebred sire Ridings 09/1683. She boasted a Signet index of 262.

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She was subject to a fierce bidding battle and eventually fell to Essex-based breeder Nigel Barrington-Fuller.

The Ridings flock, from Lewes, East Sussex, then took the day’s second top female price of the day with their next shearling ewe, Ridings 13/01464, a twin born ewe again by Benoit and out of Ridings 11/766, a daughter of Ridings 09/1661. She sold with an index of 251 to Stephen and Paul Humphrey for their East Dean flock, Chichester, for 440gns.

Next best at 380gns was a third Ridings ewe, Ridings 13/01471, a daughter of East Dean 11/00418 and out of Ridings 07/764, a daughter of Chaileybrook 07/0006. This one has an index of 171 and sold to Jess Middleditch, Suffolk.

Close behind at 360gns was the best of the ewe lambs, a Ladywell Sam daughter from Goodwood Estates under the management of shepherd Nick Page. This lamb is out of a Wyndham ewe by French sire TC4028 and sold to Nigel Barrington-Fuller, from Clacton on Sea, Essex.

A trio of shearling ewes traded at 300gns.

The first of these was the final Ridings entry, Ridings 13/01457, another by East Dean 11/00418 and out of Ridings 09/1684, a TC70171 daughter. This one sold to Plumpton College, Lewes.

Second at this money was a Goodwood shearling ewe, Goodwood 13/01966, which again sold to Nigel Barrington Fuller. This one is by East Dean 04/0030 and out of Goodwood 10/0003, a Brant 04/0909 daughter.

Next at this figure was Chris and Laura Beck’s shearling ewe from their Beckbred flock, Beckbred 13/0006, a Langford 11/00080 daughter out of Smarden 11/00064, a Heathgate 07/338 daughter. She was also bought by Jess Middleditch.

Finally, making 270gns was another Goodwood ewe lamb, Goodwood 14/04982. Again by the Ladywell sire she is out of Goodwood 01446 and joined her flockmate when heading home with Nigel Barrington-Fuller.

Males

Heading up the male trade was the pre-sale male champion and reserve overall champion, a two-shear ram from Georgie Heyler’s Langford flock, Salisbury, Wiltshire. This one, Chaileybrook 12/00011, was bought from the Long family’s Chaileybrook flock as a ram lamb and is by the French sire TC10187 and out of Chaileybrook 06/00013, a TC4028 daughter. He was subject to keen interest, eventually selling for 900gns in a two-way split to his breeder Jonathan Long and Sid Cook for the Chaileybrook and Brant flocks, respectively.

Chaileybrook breeding was also behind the day’s second top ram price when the Longs sold Chaileybrook 13/0033 to commercial producer Neil McGowan, Perthshire, for 800gns. This son of TC4028 is out of Chaileybrook 05/0002, an East Dean Z30 daughter and carries an index in the top 25% of the breed.

Following that at 650gns was Stephen and Paul Humphrey’s shearling tup East Dean 13/01286. This Ridings 11/00743 son is out of East Dean 06/576, an East Dean Z86 daughter. He was reserve male champion at Suffolk Show earlier in the year and sold to Hannah Turner, Surrey.

Then, making 450gns was Southern Cross 13/00419 from Philip Whitcombe, of the Southern Cross flock. Sired by the Australian sire Southern Pastures 104/83 and out of Kingsley 06/28, he headed to North Yorkshire with the Glaves family for their Brompton flock.

The best of the ram lambs then sold at 430gns, with this being Keith Ashburner’s Sheepwash 14/00061, a son of Goodwood 12/01430 out of Wyndam 10/00028, a Brompton 07/0225 daughter. Taking this one home was Jenny Heathcote, Hothfield.

Averages: One older ewe, £210, 34 shearling ewes, £242.11; nine ewe lambs, £218.75; 14 shearling rams, £426.75; four ram lambs, £234.93; three older rams, £437.50.

(Lambert and Foster)