Skipton Auction Mart’s annual Christmas prime livestock shows and sales, held for the first time this year on a Sunday were voted an overwhelming success, with lively trading throughout – and phenomenal prices achieved for the individual cattle and lamb champions.
With a ten-strong line-up of butchers’ classes in both the cattle and sheep sections, the area’s meat men or their buying agents were well represented at the ringside and there was keen bidding in the quest to source the pick of the region’s prime beef and lamb for customers’ Christmas tables.
The female and supreme beef championship fell to a 14-month-old British Blue-cross heifer from East Coast exhibitor William Timms, of Court House Farm, Goole.
Mr Timms was making a welcome return to Skipton and his 550kg supreme champion, bred locally in Hellifield by David Capstick, and recipient of the Alf Lister Trophy, was purchased for £2,912 (£5.30/kg), top price in show, by Ross Greenwood, who runs Greenwood’s Farm Shop in Carleton, near Skipton. A total of 12 cattle were sold by Mr Timms, averaging 217.54p per kilo.
Exhibitors from North Craven were responsible for the lowland prime lamb champions, later chosen as supreme champions.
James Garth & Son, of Birk Knott Farm, Keasden, Clapham, saw their pen of three 47kg Beltex-cross lambs go on to sell for £580 each – by far a mart record price – to regular Skipton buyer Paul Watson, of Hellifield, purchasing them on behalf of Welsh Country Foods, Anglesey. They were awarded the ES Hartley Trophy, along with a trophy for the best pen of lambs from a regular CCM vendor.
Back in the prime beef classes, the male and reserve supreme champion, also recipient of the award for the best animal from a regular CCM vendor, was a 14-month-old Limousin steer presented by Keith Downs, of Milner Field, Bingley, who narrowly missed out on a hat-trick of championship successes after sending out the prime beef title winners in both 2006 and 2007.
The 550kg runner-up was purchased for £1,702 (£3.10/kg) by Keelham Hall Farm Shop at Thornton, Bradford, who bought both the prime cattle and lambs title winners last year.
Keelham Hall Farm Shop, run by James and Victoria Robertshaw, also purchased Mr Downs’ first prize Limousin-cross 650kg heifer for £1,872 (£3.10/kg).
John Whiteside, of Whiteside Butchers, Colne, paid £1,320 (£2.70/kg) for the first prize British Blue heifer reared locally in nearby Laneshawbridge by farmer Matt Townsend, who was among the prizes again when presenting the best home-bred animal, also winner of a special class for young handlers when shown by Ben Townsend.
The British Blue heifer was acquired for £1,285 by butcher Paul Kendall, who sourced several prime beef and lamb prizewinners for his shops in Pateley Bridge and Harrogate, the latter newly opened in September.
Mr Kendall’s other purchases included the first prize other Continentals-cross heifer from Jimmy Baines, Trawden, for £1,091 (£2.25/kg), the first prize pen of Charollais-cross prime lambs from Anthony Thompson, Foulridge, and the second prize Continental lambs from Martin and Val Brown for £115 per head.
The Browns, of Beechwood House Farm, Newton-le-Willows, Bedale, also secured the reserve championship in the prime lamb classes with a pen of three Beltex-cross lambs, winners of the under-40kg class. They were acquired for £160 per head (£4.21/kg) by Mick Etherington on behalf of Stuart Price Butchers, Crossflatts, Keighley.
The champion pen of hill and horned lambs came, for the second year running, from David Verity, of W & R Verity & Sons, Grange Farm, Bouthwaite, Pateley Bridge. Awarded the Craven Cattle Marts Trophy, the trio of 54kg Masham lambs sold for £80 a head, again to Mick Etherington on behalf of John Kearns Butchers, Shipley.
Kearns Butchers also purchased the champion Suffolk lambs, recipients of the Oramec Trophy, from Brian Lund, of Walshaw, Hebden Bridge, at £70 apiece.
The champion pen of Mule lambs from Jeremy Daggett, Hartlington, was another Greenwood’s Farm Shop, Carleton, acquisition at £65 per head, top price in class, which was sponsored by the Skipton branch of the North of England Mule Sheep Association.
Roy Nelson, of Bordley, once again exhibited the champion Swaledales, which received the CCM Trophy and made £59 each when becoming another Paul Watson acquisition. Other noteworthy prices included £125 per head for a pen of Beltex lambs from John Garnett, Draughton.
Prime cattle classes were judged by James Robertshaw, of Keelham Hall Farm Shop, Thornton, Bradford, and Saltaire butcher Richard Binns. Judges in the prime lamb classes were regular Skipton buyers Andrew Atkinson, Harrogate, and Mick Etherington, Crossflatts, and butchers Ian Weatherhead, Pateley Bridge, and Stephen Maskill, Hebden Bridge. Auctioneers were Jeremy Eaton and Ted Ogden.
CCM chairman Michael McKenzie thanked all vendors, purchasers and sponsors for their support throughout the year.
At the close of play, Jimmy Baines, of the Gisburn and Trawden-based farming family, was crowned the first-ever CCM Stock Person of the Year following the introduction of a new annual award to recognise the contribution of regular vendors – and honour a champion among them.
Points were awarded at livestock shows throughout the year. Mr Baines received a cash prize from main sponsors, the Silsden-based West Riding Motor Group, with all mainline sponsors of Skipton livestock shows throughout the year contributing to the new awards.
The mart also obtained a historic Smithfield meat porters cart to sell in aid of Manorlands Hospice, Oxenhope. It was bought for £1,050 by Chris Heseltine, of Hesketh Farm Park, Bolton Abbey, and will go on display at the well-known working farm visitor attraction.
Jeremy Eaton, general manager at Skipton Auction Mart, said: “Our first Sunday Christmas prime shows proved a resounding success. There was a real buzz about the place and we learned a great deal, which will enable us to both improve and streamline the fixture next year.”