It was a case of “many happy returns” all round when livestock made a welcome homecoming to Skipton Auction Mart on Monday, as trading resumed on a collection centre slaughter-only basis following the three weeks-plus foot and mouth standstill.

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High levels of demand after the lay-off, notably for newly resumed export markets, resulted in keen prices being achieved for the prime lambs that went on sale on day one, with trade much better than anticipated.

However, regular high volume Skipton purchasers were quick to point out that they did not expect this trend to be maintained once things got back to normal.Even so, there was total clearance of the 1800 lambs that passed through the market, with an overall average price of 115.9p/kg. This compared to an average price at the last prime lambs at Skipton on July 30 of 110.5p/kg.

Andrew Atkinson, of Harrogate, one of the most prolific buyers of prime lambs at Skipton, commented: “There is plenty of demand out there, so it good to be in the position to be able to meet it again. Due to export requirements, farmers are today experiencing fantastic trade for lambs, though this is unlikely to hold up.”

Another major purchaser Paul Watson, of Hellifield, said sourcing lambs in numbers had been a problem, so it was good to see farmers back in action, though he too found it difficult to see current prices being maintained.

Slaughter-only markets for prime cattle and sheep will continue at Skipton next week, with normal Monday cattle, sheep and calves sales, along with Craven Dairy Auctions, resuming on Monday, September 10. Other regular sales and shows will be staged as planned.