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The suckled calf sale season wasted no time in moving into overdrive at one of the first major fixtures of the autumn when 1386 steers and heifers showed massive increases in average prices at Carlisle last week.

Competition at the ringside, with several purchasers looking to take a wagon load away, saw steers up £180 to level at £769 and heifers up by £148 to settle at £708 on a day’s trading that saw a top call of £3500.

Despite the testing conditions of recent months buyers were in total agreement the quality of cattle was “outstanding”.

Some vendors feared the difficult summer, financial uncertainty and price of feed would conspire to produce a lack-lustre trade, but those concerns were dashed as soon as the first cattle came through the ring.

Judge Dai Thomas from Lampeter awarded the championship to a real-eye-catcher from Stephen Graham, Miller Hill, Gilsland, Carlisle.

The 13-month-old black steer weighed about 400kg was home-bred in the Graham family’s herd of 240 sucklers. He was sired by Haltcliffe Union who was bought at a main breed society sale at Carlisle for 4300gns and is a son of Goldies Oswald.

“He’s bred exceptionally well for us and this was one of his first crop of calves,” commented Mr Graham who later sold the steer for the top price of £3500. Buyer was Mike Rowlands, Newtown, Powys, who has the steer ear-marked for an appearance at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

The Graham family, who also run 700 breeding ewes and are renowned as top primestock producers, concentrate on a mix of Limousin and British Blue breeding in their cows.

Their 17 calves by the Haltcliffe bull averaged £1128 and included a heifer at £2000.

The reserve championship went to Colin and James Little of The Guards, Ireby, Wigton, Cumbria, with a British Blue steer. By Wold Newton Rambo and out of a pure-bred Limousin cow, the steer made £1500 to the judge Dai Thomas.

Father and son team of Stephen and Thomas Illingworth, Eaglesfield, Lockerbie made £2300 for their registered British Blue heifer Glenrock Cupid – a daughter of Daffyd O’Chain. Buyer was H W Timm, Goole.

(Harrison and Hetherington).