Trade was up on the year at last week’s Thame Summer Sheep Fair (4 and 5 August) as trade grossed more than £2.7m. 

Texel Mules and two shear Mules saw strong bidding on Thursday (up £20 on the year) and Mules averaged £123.50, helped by a stronger lamb price and a lower yarding of 24,411, down from 28,000 last year.

Sheep in pens at Thame market

© Tim Scrivener

Beltex

A tougher time was had for Beltex and three-quarter Beltex-crosses, which were harder to sell and levelled at £134, almost £8 down on the year. But this didn’t stop MF and DM Elkington, Weedon Lois, Northamptonshire, making the sale’s top money of £200.

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More selective Beltex bidding still managed to raise prices of £192, £185 and £178 for P Riley, Blakesley, with prices reaching £165 for Bill Rawding’s Black Beltex offering from Marsworth, Buckinghamshire.

Texels from RR and M Lawrence, Market Bosworth, topped at £198. Texel cross Cheviot mules then made a roaring trade, with Michael Cross, Blackthorn, making £168 and £166 and Garfield Stephens, Kirby Bellars, Leicestershire, making £165 for his entry, which took the prize for best white faced sheep.

A fine showing of Texel cross North Country Mules from Harrison brothers, Calverton, followed at £162.

Mules dominate

Older sheep were dominated by Mules, with Messrs Rawding hitting £116 a head. Suffolk-crosses from Rob and Caroline Mole, Chearsley, sold to £111, while George Eaton, Water Straford, made £101 apiece with his consignment.  

Ted Dawson, Ferryhill, Durham, hit £95 four times for Texel-cross ewe lambs, while Suffolk-cross lambs from Stuart McIntosh, Princes Risborough, Bledlow, made £86 each for his consignment.

Thame Sheep Fair livestock ring

© Tim Scrivener

Suffolks up £6

Friday’s Suffolk consignments were £6 up on the year topping at £195. Prize winners from Eddy Bullman, Thornborough, were the pick of what was a consistent trade for almost 8,000 Suffolk one- and two-shears.

Rob and Caroline Mole were back in the ring seeing highs of £148 and £146 after David Morris, Brill, had opened the day’s trading with a pen at £142, beating an average of £124.

Almost 8,000 Mules topped at £178 for the best pen on the day from Richard Haynes, Winslow. Henry Tustian, Epwell, made £176, £170 and £165 twice.

A run of 700 lambs from Messrs Hunt, Hockliffe, topped at £152, with Thorncombe Park Estate, Bramley, seeing highs of £140.

Trade was “steadier” for Beltex types, while Mules that had been prepared for the show found a definite premium, Thame Farmers Mart auctioneer Simon Draper told Farmers Weekly.

Thame Sheep Fair pen of sheep

© Tim Scrivener

‘More positive year’

“This year was definitely more positive, but ordinary sheep at the bottom end was not much dearer than last year,” he explained. “This has been helped by an improvement in lamb trade and when I have about 25,000 head to sell, I expect firmer prices than when I have 28,000.

“Last year one or two buyers who typically offer the big money bought lesser sheep and they didn’t work for them. This year they have come out and bought better again.”

Improved hogg trade had meant the shearlings sold were “proper shearlings” and had not been mixed with hoggs, he added. 

Averages: 7,793 Mule shearlings, £123.50; 7,013 Suffolk shearlings, £124.10; 1,872 Texel shearlings, £145; 717 Beltex shearlings, £134; 476 Cheviot shearlings, £142; 368 Lleyn shearlings, £116; 1,027 ewes in total, £86; 580 Mule ewes, £91; 149 Cheviot ewes, £92; 136 Charolais ewes, £68; 66 Suffolk-cross ewes, £103; 395 Texel ewe lambs, £83; 30 Suffolk-cross ewe lambs, £86. 97% clearance (Thame Farmers Mart)