Blackface ram breeders had plenty to cheer about at the first sale of the season at Stirling on Saturday. Averages were well up on the year for the 998 shearlings and ram lambs sold at the combined sale of the bigger framed, longer wooled north-types traditionally sold at Perth and the tighter-fleeced south that have always been traded at Stirling.
Gross takings were £651,422, while the top trade was £13,000 for a ram lamb from father and son Hugh and Alan Blackwood, of Auldhouseburn, Cumnock.
The 179 Perth shearlings averaged £770, up £63 on the year for one more sold. The 48 ram lambs sold to average £599, a £184 a head increase on 2009 when 55 were traded. There was 253 shearlings and 80 ram lambs catalogued.
The average for the 573 Stirling shearlings was £646, against the £529 achieved for 578 in 2009. Stirling ram lambs averaged £589 for 198, against £463 for 193. The catalogue had 766 shearlings and 312 ram rambs entered.
United Auctions’ executive chairman David Leggat, who on Saturday was marking 35 years with the firm, said: “It was incredibly obvious from the rostrum that bidding was more pronounced than ever on quality sheep.
“Buyers were clearly willing to go the distance on top sheep for stud use. The commercial end was a bit more difficult, but it was good to see much the same numbers sold as last year at better values.”
The Blackwoods run 1500 Blackie ewes and achieved the best deals on their ram lambs. Their sale topper, Black Pearl, was by a £36,000 Drumgrange and out of a ewe by Elmscleugh’s McTavish. He was shared by J McWhirter, Grimmet, Dalmellington, and Billy McFarlane, Drumgrange, Patna.
At £6000 they sold a son of a £12,000 Drumgrange out of a ewe by Burnfoot Raptor to Billy Renwick, of Coresbank, Sanquhar, and Angus Kennedy, of Mitchelhill, Biggar.
Mr Renwick paid £4500 for another Auldhouseburn ram lamb, also by the £36,000 Drumgrange, but this time out of a ewe by a home-bred son of McTavish. Mr Renwick acquired again at £3000 from Auldhouseburn.
The best shearling from the Blackwoods made £3800 to Billy MacPherson, Croy, Inverness. Brothers Willie and Ewan Bennie, of Merkins, Alexandria, received the day’s second highest price at £10,000 from Alistair McArthur, of Nunnerie, Elvanfoot.
Achieving that was a south-type shearling, by a home-bred son of a £1300 Midlock and a ewe by a £1600 Nunnerie. Merkins traded again at £4500 a Midlock-sired shearling to K Taylor, Dall, Killin.
Matthew Hamilton, of Woolfords, West Lothian, did well with sons of a 10,000gn Conway sire he had on loan from David Baillie, of Calla, Carnwarth, and which was used on just two ewes.
A north-type shearling by the sire and out of a ewe by the Playboy was knocked down at £8000 to Stephen Duncan and son, also Stephen, of Achdregnie, Glenlivet, Banffshire.
A full brother then made £3500 to Paul McEvoy, of Tullaree Road, Kilcoo, Newry, Co Down. Ian Shearer, of Hillhead of Morenish, Glenlivet, paid £2800 for another son of the Conway sire.
Mr Hamilton was then among the leading purchasers, buying at £5500 a home-bred shearling that stood reserve champion in the pre-sale show for Bert Grant, of Glendamph, Glenisla. He acquired another at £2500 from Glendamph, who also sold at £3500 to Tom Paterson, of Craigneich, Crieff.
Craigneich sold at £5500 a shearling, by an East Bracklinn sire and out of a ewe by a £4000 Glendamph, to Mr Grant and Duncan Beaton, of Newmill of Inneshewan.
Achdregnie was bid to £6500 by judge Andy Hunter, of Glenarm, Ballymena, Northern Ireland, for their Perth shearling champion – a home-bred son of a £7500 Achdregnie that led the same show in 2008.
Best among the Perth ram lambs was £3200 from Mr Shearer to Sandy Smith, Haughton, Glenkindie, Aberdeenshire.
Neil and Anne Kydd, of Glenhead, Lintrathen, Angus. sold two sons of The Triplet at each £2100, one to Craigneich and the other to Doldy Farms, Glenisla.
Other leading prices; Perth shearlings: Hillhead of Morenish – £4000 to Calla and £3500 to Doldy; Doldy – £4000 to Cadogan Estates, Auchnacloich; Achdregnie – £3000 to Craigneich and £3000 to Woolfords and Calla.
Perth ram lambs: Newmill of Innishewan – £2000 to Watson, Coleraine; Calla – £1700 to Johnstone, Chamberwells.
Stirling shearlings: McMillan, Lurg – £4000 to Connachan and Plenderleith; Mary McCall Smith, Connachan – £3500 to Lurg and Merkins; MacGregor, Allanfauld – £3500 to Doldy, Southside; McArthur, Arnicle – £3000 to Hogg, Longyester; Campbell, Glenrath – £3000 to Matheson, Aberarder; Kay, Gass – £3000 to Balliemeanoch and Lurg.
Stirling ram lambs: Wight, Midlock – £6000 to Hartside and Elmscleuch, £3000 to Drumnessie, Allanfauld, Burnhead and Crossflat; Dunlop, Elmscleuch – £3500 to Taylor, Braes of Ardeonaig and £3500; Allanfauld – £3500 to Remony.