15 September 2000

Balwen rams four white socks draw strong bids

By Jeremy Hunt

A BALWEN ram lamb bought for £40 two years ago sold for the top price of £700 after standing reserve supreme sheep champion at the Rare Breeds Survival Trust show and sale, Stoneleigh last weekend.

Achieving perfection in the markings of this black-fleeced breed proved irresistible to Jason Whybrow of Cardington, Beds, who bought his foundation ewes four years ago. "Getting the four white socks, the half-white tail and the level blaze on the face is a constant challenge," he said.

But two years ago he took a liking to a ram lamb that left the ring unsold at the Stoneleigh sale. He later bought the lamb privately and has shown it fearlessly this season.

Several long-established breeders were in contention for the ram but the successful bidders at £700 were Messrs Gardiner and Gale who are setting up a rare breed centre in Aberdeenshire.

The Southdown may be the smallest of the down breeds but the best on offer here showed good carcass quality in proportion to their size and met a strong trade. An entry from RH Blackshall who runs the Ceasars flock at Newbury took the hotly contested inter-breed sheep championship. The shearling ram made £550 to J and B Taylor, Bromsgrove, Worcs.

The Portland sheep, with its distinctive tan face and legs, mustered 40 entries. This breed is usually among the high prices and last weekends best was £520 given for a ram from the Bramble flock of Mrs HJ Howell from Taunton. Buyer was A Campbell, Wells, Somerset.

The big-framed Cotswold sheep – one of the most underrated of the longwooled breeds – maintains a strong band of supporters. Trade was good with five lots selling from £200-£400.

Other high prices included £400 for the Dorset Down champion – a twin-born ram lamb from B Lugsdens flock at Sudbury, Suffolk – while £380 was paid for a ram in the Oxford Down ring and there were two bids of £350 for a white-faced Woodland ram and Hebridean ram.

The pig section had been cancelled due to the continuing swine fever outbreaks but rare breed enthusiasts still swelled the event.

And it was the supreme champion, a British White bull from Ms A Dunns herd at Billericay, Essex, that galvanised the crowd into action settling at the top price of £1500.

The two-year-old De Beauvoir Virgil is Hevingham bred on both sides. He was breed champion at the East of England this year and now heads for stud duties in Mr Fowlers herd at Eastleigh, Hants.

Almost 50 Dexter cattle were entered and saw the trade level at £464. The increasing demand for this breed – BSE is said never to have surfaced in a Dexter herd – took prices to £1100 for the first prize winning bull Weardale Heron from V Schofield, Carlisle. Buyer was Mrs Blazey, Lynton, Devon.

Colonywymott Beef Shorthorns at HM Prison Wymott, Leyland, Lancs, accounted for the breeds two highest prices with deals to Associated Technologies from Banbury, Oxon who took two heifers at £1100 and £1000.

The Irish Moiled is one of the rarest cattle breeds and it was one from the National Trusts herd at Wimpole Farm, Herts that led the trade when a 1995-bred cow suckling a heifer calf sold at £1250 to R McConnell, Ballymena, Northern Ireland (Harrison and Hetherington). &#42