One the of the season opening store lamb sales saw trade leap by £12 on the year when 2546 lambs were sold at Skipton yesterday.

The strong entry of lambs levelled at a healthy £65.68/head up £12.13 on the 2010 opening store lamb sale, reflecting current confidence in the sheep sector.

Craven Cattle Mart’s livestock sales manager and auctioneer Ted Ogden said the sale saw a great show of lambs for the seasonal opener, with a number of large annual consignments slightly stronger on the year, helped by recent good grass growth. “The strongest end were generally £65 to £74, with medium keep lambs £57 to £64 and several pens of smaller longer keep lambs £50 to £54.”

Judge Tony England awarded the championship to a pen of 50 Beltex-cross lambs from Tom Heseltine, whose family trades as J G E Heseltine and Son at Hesketh Farm, Bolton Abbey.CCM Opening Store Lambs Heseltine champs ring pic.jpg

The Heseltines farm about 1000 ewes on their 600 acres, the majority Beltex-cross and Texel-cross, and sell all their store lambs at Skipton. It was the first of their 2011 batches that secured the opening stores championship, selling for £68 a head to John Bowling, of Ashton-in-Makerfield, Wigan.

The second prize 50-strong Texel-cross pen from James Hall, Darnbrook in Malhamdale, sold at £71.50 each to Northamptonshire purchaser Robert Woodward, but it was the third prize pen of 50 Suffolk-cross lambs from last year’s champion Michael Parker, of Winterburn, that headed the day’s prices at £74.20 apiece when joining regular Skipton buyer Paul Watson, Hellifield, who also paid £69 a head for the fourth prize pen of Texel-cross lambs from Bear Park Farm, Carperby, Leyburn.

Suffolk-cross lambs averaged £68.52 (£53.40 in 2010), Texel-cross £64.78 (£53.72), Charollais-cross £65.07 (£50.12), Beltex-cross £65.57 and Mule lambs £59.50.