Kelso ram average lifts 38% as records tumble

Nerves were quickly settled in most rings at Kelso last week (10 September) as keen bidding left a record average of £970.09, and the famous sales made a comeback.

Strong bids from pedigree breeders included a centre record £65,000 call for a Campsie shearling, ending the Covid hiatus in style at the Border Union Showground.

This bid, along with other pedigree bids helped lift averages by £271.81, passing the 2017 record of £709 and illustrating the confidence of commercial buyers.

See also: Strong ewe lamb market presents big gamble

Expectations were high going into the sale, with many flocks having sold prime lambs for more than £100 a head all summer and breeding females 20% dearer on the year.

Sheep were left open to the elements this year, rather than penning and selling rams in long marquees, which concerned some breeders.

This was due to a national marquee shortage created by demand from vaccination centres, hotels, pubs and other business.

There were 31% fewer rams sold than two years ago, and the official entry figure going into the sale was 16% down on 2019. A clearance rate of 82.83% was recorded.

Record in ring nine

A Texel shearling ram from Jimmy and Donald McGregor, Dyke Farm, Milton of Campsie, made £65,000.

This helped lift ring nine’s averages to a phenomenal £2,007.59, as 237 rams grossed more than £475,000 during the day’s trading.

Campsie Drambuie was shared between John Elliot, Roxburgh, and Ken Hodge, Greenarch. Drambuie is an Ettrick Cockney Rebel son out of a dam by Garngour Yeltsin.

This beats the 2014 record of £35,000 set by a Texel from Peter and Lynn Gray of Scrogton Head.

Suffolks to £6,000

Scott Donaldson, managing director at Harrison and Hetherington, sold pedigree-registered Suffolks in ring eight.

Trade peaked at £6,000 with a shearling from Messrs Alexander Gray and Son, Langside Farm.

Mr Donaldson said buyers were regularly having to give £1,000 or more for strong sheep. He said that many good tups were about £150-£200 up on the 2019 sale.

However, new regulations governing livestock movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland since Brexit affected demand.

“There was a notable absence of Northern Irish buyers here today because of rules and the border limiting animals passing into the country,” said Mr Donaldson.

“Buyers were looking for clean legs and tight wool to breed a good ewe lamb.”

The Suffolk Sheep Society confirmed there would normally have been half a dozen or so vendors that were absent and far fewer buyers from Northern Ireland and south of the border.

Crossbreds to £5,800

Buyers were paying more than previous years for the best quality cross-bred tups in ring three, where Nick Woodmass for C and D auctions saw prices top at £5,800. The ring was led by a three-quarter Beltex-cross Texel from A Taylor, Heatheryhall.

“The very best were all £1,000 plus, with buyers looking for skins, shape and size,” said Mr Woodmass.

He said the Charollais trade in ring six saw a lot of good commercial rams making up to £700-£800, and trade up to £3,800 for a ram from Messrs J Wales, Thackwood.

Selective trade

Chris Armstrong of Hexham and Northern Marts said the trade failed to live up to expectations and was “quite selective” for Texels in ring five.

He suggested businesses had looked to save on ram expense after paying very strong prices for commercial ewe lamb replacements and shearlings.

“Trade was not as buoyant as expected,” said Mr Armstrong. “A lot of tups made £800-£1,000 that on another day would have been £1,200-£1,500.

“The replacement cost of a ram is often said to be 10 lambs, so with lambs making £95-£110, we expected to see rams dearer. A lot of rams sold for £700-£900, so people were carefully managing their business.

“That said, everybody is relieved to be back at Kelso and the staff must be commended for their efforts.”

The Numbers

  • 3,536; Total number of rams sold on the day – a drop of 31% on the 2019 sale
  • £3.43m: Grand total value of all tups sold –  a new sale record
  • £1,412: Average for registered Texel shearlings, as 657 went under the hammer

Traditional Bluefaced Leicesters to £9,500

Leicester trade was dominated by the traditional-type rams at Kelso, which the society attributed to the popularity of the Cheviot Mule breeding female.

Trade topped at £9,500 for a shearling from the Forster family, Lowes Fell, Hexham. He sold to Frank Johnson, Ashes.

Lowes Fell N12 (pictured) is out of an old show ewe bought at the Rossibank dispersal sale for 3,500gns. This beats the flock’s long-standing record price of £4,000, set in 1986.

Lowes Feell N12

Lowes Fell N12 (above) made £9,500 © Tim Scrivener

The first ram of the day, from Alan McClymont, Kirkstead, made £7,000. This is the Kirkstead flock’s best price yet.

The shearling (pictured) is out of the flock’s D17 Shrewbridge daughter and by G1 Burndale. He sold to Wayne Burrow, Arkenfield flock, Preston.

Kirkstead N15

Kirkstead N15 (above) made £7,000 © Tim Scrivener

Seven other Kirkstead rams made £2,000 or more. West Bolton N2 from the Smith family, Alnwick, Northumberland, made £3,400.

The Gornal K34 son sold to Matthew Seed, Auchry. Crossing-type Leicesters topped at £5,200 for a shearling from Alec and Anders Brown, Macqueston.

The Midlock L18 son sold to Dougie Fleming, Parkgatestone flock.

Averages: Ring 15: 208 shearlings, £1,285; 28 ram lambs, £892; Ring 17: 216 shearlings, £1,210; four ram lambs, £837

Warnelview heifers level at £2,451

Trade topped at 10,000gns and heifers averaged more than £2,400 at the Warnelview production sale on behalf of the Wilson family, Thursby, Carlisle, at Borderway last week (8 September).

The 445-head dairy herd has averaged 11,800kg and attracted bidders from across the UK and Ireland.

The top lot was a Silvio daughter from the Ruby cow family. Warnelview Golwyn Ruby (EX94) (pictured) made £10,000. She sold to Messrs Millar, Coleraine, County Londonderry.

Warnelview Silvio Ruby

Warnelview Silvio Ruby (above) © Jane Steel

Averages: 11 cows in milk, £2,305; 119 heifers in milk, £2,451; 91 summer 2021-born heifer calves, £912 (H&H)

Welsh Mules record broken at Welshpool

A record Welsh Mule Sheep Breeders Association price of £300 a head was set at Welshpool last week (8-9 September).

Winning first place and setting a sale and association record of £300 a head were Alan and Mark Jones, Middle Farm, Rorrington, who sold to Pennie Brothers, Gwern Yr Ychain.

They sold 755 white-faced Mule lambs in pens of 20 and 25 at an average of £152.84.

Welsh Mules at Welshpool

Welsh Mules at Welshpool © Tim Scrivener

Averages: 5,013 (-84) yearlings, £191.50 (+£24.49); 8,173 ewe lambs (-200), £137.80 (+£21.38) (Welshpool Livestock Sales)