The annual highlight for this year’s crop of suckled calves and over year store cattle with show potential at Skipton Auction Mart produced a significant improvement in trade on last year’s corresponding fixture.
Forming part of the fortnightly sale of 546 head of young feeding bulls, store bullocks and heifers, and breeding cattle, the 169 2013-born suckled calves forward sold to an overall average of £816.72 per head, up £79.27 on last year, with the 354 2012-born store cattle averaging £896.17 per head, an increase of £59.76 on the year.
The show classes for suckled calves produced a championship success for regular Skipton vendors JC Walker and Son, of Brennand Farm, Dunsop Bridge, with a home-bred British Blue-cross heifer by Bluegrass Cyclone, a former AI bull acquired by the Ribble Valley farming family.
The sire has produced plenty of show victors, among them the 2013 Skipton Craven Champions Day store cattle with future show potential title winner. The Walkers’ latest star, shown by Stephen Walker, made £1,200 when selling to Dylan Townend, of Quarry Farm, Broughton, Malton.
Mr Townend, who also bought the over year heifer first prize winner at Skipton two years ago, runs a 30-strong herd of beef cattle and remains keen to purchase young quality breeding stock to bring on in the hope of producing some decent show animals.
He is already well along the way to achieving that goal, when turning vendor to send out the second prize young bull at Skipton, which made £1,200. Mr Townend sold six young bulls in total – three Limousin-cross and three British Blue-cross – to average £1,050 a head overall. “I was very pleased. It was well worth the 140-mile round trip,” he said.
His £1,200 top price Limousin-cross youngster fell to the co-judges, regular Skipton buyer Stephen Swales, of Melbourne, York, and his butcher son Anthony, who runs Knavesmire Butchers in Albermarle Road, York.
In fact, they bought all three prizewinners in the young feeding bull show class, also paying £1,280, top price in class, for the British Blue-cross victor, shown by reigning CCM Farmer of the Year Brian Lund, of Walshaw Farm, Walshaw Hebden Bridge.
The red rosette winner is a home-bred son of Dean House Danloy, bred by Leslie Driver & Son at Oakenshaw, Bradford, and the fourth calf of a Blue-cross cow, all of which have won rosettes at Skipton.
The Swales then paid £1,100 for the third prize young bull from Clitheroe’s Ian Townson. All three acquisitions will be prepared for the local show circuit in 2014, where they will be paraded by Anthony Swales’ 18-year-old son Luke, an apprentice at Knavesmire Butchers, before returning to the shop and the food chain in time for next year’s Christmas tables.
The reserve suckled calf championship was awarded to the first prize Limousin-sired heifer shown by Kirklees vendors Turner Farms, of Honley, Meltham. It joined Matt and Ben Townsend, of Barnside Hall Farm in Laneshawbridge for £1,020.
The Pendle father and son beef farmers, who also acquired last year’s suckled calf champion, were in action again when buying all three prizewinners in the show class for any other Continental-sired 2013 heifers – all Blonde-cross shown by mother and son, Janet and James Huck, of Austwick. They fell for £870, £1,050 and £930 respectively.
Sandra Blades, of Keer Holme, Carnforth, who landed a championship and reserve championship double at the corresponding fixture two years ago, was again among the prizes when presenting the first and third prize British Blue-sired heifer calves and the second prize Limousin-sired heifer.
The red rosette winner found a new home on the east coast when joining Roland and Paul Blacker, of South Farm, Rawcliffe, Goole, for £950, as did the Limousin-sired runner-up at £800, with the third prize Blue-sired entry joining Peter and Edward Fox in Withgill, Clitheroe, for £880.
The Blackers, who are uncle and nephew, also paid £930 for the second prize Blue-sired heifer from Clapham’s AB Woodhouse. Though not showmen, they view Skipton as a happy hunting ground for quality youngsters they can further improve.
In the classes for 2012-born store cattle with show potential, Ian Townson was again to the fore when presenting both the first and third prize home-bred Limousin-cross heifers. The victor, an embryo calf of the highly regarded Cowtham Justice, sold for £1,420 to Wagstaff Bros in York, the third prize winner to Goole’s Ian Swales.
Peter and Edward Fox were again prominent when showing the second prize heifer, which also made £1,420 on joining another Fox farming family, PB Fox & Son in Dunnington, York, along with the second prize 2012-born steer, which became a £1,200 acquisition by Stephen Eastwood, of Emley, Huddersfield.
Mr Eastwood also swooped to buy two further Fox leading performers – a British Blue over year steer at £1,580, top price of the day, and their top price £1,405 Limousin 2012-born steer.
The first prize over year steer, a British Blue-cross from Bordley’s John Stephenson, sold locally for £1,290 to Jeff Burrow in Hanlith, with over year bulls selling to a high of £1,370 for a Blonde d’Aquitaine from Andrew Bailey, of Eldroth.
Tim Longton, who farms with his son Michael at Quernmore, Lancaster, presented the family’s annual consignment of February to April-born Charolais-sired suckler calves. The Longtons – Tim’s father, also Tim, is a former chairman of the Craven Suckled Calf Breeders Society – have been showing and selling suckler calves at Skipton for over 30 years, both at the present site and the old mart on Broughton Road.
Their 32-strong entry this year averaged £772 per head overall, selling to a high of £860 for a young steer that joined Henry Lawson in Hunmanby, Filey, and was one of several Longton acquisitions.
There were also special prizes for top-priced pens. Best in the bulls class were four Limousin from Sandra Blades, each sold for £1,000, with Andrew Fawcett, of Killinghall, leading the bullock prices with three Charolais-cross at £1,175, and three further Charolais-cross from Eric Hepworth, of Salterforth, leading the heifer prices at £1,140 each.
Breeding cattle prices peaked at £1,440 for a Saler cow with Charolais-cross heifer calf from Robert Gemmell, of Bradshaw, Halifax. The buyer was Driffield’s John Lund.
Craven Cattle Marts’ livestock sales manager Ted Odgen commented: “Trade was generally good throughout, notably for the better end. The bull section, in particular, produced a nice show of 2013-born suckled calves.
“Vendors should note that changes to the maximum age, bringing it to 16 months at deadweight outlets, is now causing buyers to buy bulls over 12 months of age with caution and farm assurance can also influence this price.”