Trade topped at £42,000 at Kirkby Stephen’s annual prize show and sale of registered Swaledale rams last week, seeing averages soar ahead of last year.

The mood was set by a good trade on Wednesday (21 October) at the aged ram and ram lamb sale, sparking a sale that “bounced from start to finish”, Scott Donaldson, sales director at Harrison and Hetherington told Farmers Weekly.

Prices peaked on Thursday with shearlings at £42,000 for an offering from Messrs Sowerby, Oakbank, jointly bought by Messrs Harker, Grayrigg Hall and Messrs Hutchinson, Valley Farm.

Sale leader Oakbank Brigadier -

Sale leader Oakbank Brigadier –

Show Champion, coming from M and C Rukin, West Stonesdale, was knocked down to R Marwood and Son for £25,000, later in the day.

Stonesdale Fernando - Overall Champion - £25,000

Stonesdale Fernando – Overall Champion – £25,000

“Thursday’s trade was particularly good, one of the best days I’ve had selling Swaledale tups for some years,” said Mr Donaldson.

“Given the way things are in the sheep industry, we were probably anticipating things to be a little harder, but commercial interest was strong at times and pedigree interest was strong, with interest from Scottish breeders looking for the benefits of using a Swaledale tup on Scottish Blackface stock to harden them and grow sheep bigger.”

Friday’s bidding peaked twice at £30,000, first for a shearling from Messrs Lightfoot, Gillside Farm, Glenridding, knocked down to Messrs Dixon, Garnthwaite and Messrs Marwood, Long Green. This was then matched by an entry from Messrs Hutton, Setmabanning Farm, Threlkeld, shared three ways between Messrs Harker, Overthwaite, Messrs Harker, Grayrigg Hall and Messrs Hargreaves, Meadow Bank.

On Wednesday, ram lambs reached highs of £8,500, from Messrs Marwood, Long Green, Barningham to Messrs Tully, Burncroft Farm, Eggleston. Topping the aged rams at £5,200 was a five shear from Messrs Booth, Old Hall Farm, Feizor, which was purchased by Messrs Gibson, Burneside Hall, Kendal.

Average prices were up by at least £140 across the three day sale, and managed to stretch £185 ahead on Friday, with an increasingly diverse buyer demographic pleasing breed Swaledale Sheep Breeder’s Society chairman, Alan Alderson.

“Expansion is important for our breed,” he said. “Stewardship schemes on the fell, of which there are many in northern England, mean we need to expand sheep numbers across Britain to maintain numbers.
“Mule trade in some places was a little down but North of England Mule is still recognised as one of the finest cross-bred breeding ewes to have.”

Recent expansion has been seen in both Northern and Southern Ireland, as well as Wales, with the usual buyer presence coming down from Scotland to Kirkby Stephen, commented Mr Alderson.
“Swaledales are pretty good forages of fell land, they spread out well, grazing the environment to good effect from the bottom to the hill tops.

Averages: Wednesday, 74 aged rams, £767.70 (up £144.04 on year); 76 ram lambs, 918.78 (up 140.98 on the year) (75% clearance).
Thursday and Friday, 732 shearlings, £1,674.04 (up £167.43 on the year) (94.5% clearance).