Under wraps Swaledale shearling sells for £45,000 at Kirkby Stephen


(hutch)764s 45,000gns web.jpgA shearling ram that had been kept “under wraps” caused a stir on the final day of the Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association’s premiere gathering at Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria – and it wasted no time in reaching the sale’s top price of £45,000.


Consigned by Geoff and Carol Marwood, who are now at the helm of the family’s noted Long Green flock at Barningham, Richmond, north Yorkshire, the shearling hadn’t been off the farm following the Marwood’s decision to retire from showing. It meant no one had the opportunity of seeing any of their shearling tups at the summer shows – and their ultimate sale topper wasn’t even brought forward for the pre-sale judging at the Kirkby Stephen three-day fixture.


But his qualities didn’t go un-noticed for long. While the ram that had been most fancied in the run-up to the sale had to settle for the day’s second highest price of £34,000, it was the Marwood’s tup that wooed the ringside. Drawn to hit the ring in the much favoured middle of the day, the tup impressed for his size, correctness, tight skin and outstanding colour.


“There’s a lot of good luck involved – everything has to come just right at exactly the right time,” commented Geoff Marwood after the sale.


But he always had high hopes for the tup who is by a ram from the Aygill flock bought five year ago at Hawes for £31,000 and one that has bred exceptionally well – and twice stood champion at the famed Tanhill Show prior to the Marwood’s decision to cease showing. Their £45,000 topper is out of a three-crop home-bred ewe that produced another good tup lamb to the same sire this spring.


“I’m not sure what we’ll put her to this time but we bought a £20,000 shearling from Patrick Sowerby at Mossdale so that’s a possibility,” said Geoff.


Buyers were David Harker (Milnthorpe, Cumbria), Richard Harker (Kendal, Cumbria), Paul Harker (Arkengarthdale, north Yorkshire) and Richard Hargreaves (Burnley, Lancashire).


The most talked-about tup ahead of the sale was a shearling from Mark Nelson’s renowned Bull and Cave flock at Malham, north Yorkshire and on the day the judges – Richard Harker and David Allinson – could find nothing to beat it.



(hutch)champ002s 34,000 web.jpgSired by a Sealhouses tup, he made £34,000 on a day when there was clearly a commitment among buyers to pay well for the tups they wanted, although the generous returns afforded by sales of Mule gimmer lambs in the early part of the sale season didn’t spark any reckless spending.


Sale average for the 1051 shearlings was £253 up on the year – but this was a selective trade, but one that auctioneer Stuart Bell described as “reflecting changing times.”


“De-stocking for environmental reasons means Swaledale flocks are carrying less sheep. But pedigree breeders remain at the core of the Swaledale ranks and are still prepared to invest in the best tups. You needed £20,000 in your pocket to compete with the high bidders,” he said.


The Bull and Cave tup went in a three-way split to Marina Whitehead and her daughter Christine, Swaledale, Robert Clarkson, Swaledale, and Gordon Scarr, Sedbergh, Cumbria.


Tom Robinson and Son’s flock at Low Catlow in Lancashire‘s Trough of Bowland seemed to have £20,000 as a sale marker on the final day. They paid £20,000 for a shearling from Mark Nelson and then took the reserve championship with one of their own tups that later made £20,000 in a shared deal between Mark Nelson, Bull and Cave and Patrick Sowerby, Mossdale Farms, Hawes.


Another Low Catlow tup reached £20,000 taken by Alan Coates, Muker, Swaledale and Stan and Pat Brogden, Brough, Cumbria.


Among the sale’s other highlights was a tup at £26,000 from Paul Hallam’s flock in Derbyshire taken by the Booth family from Feizor, Settle, north Yorkshire and a £21,000 call from George Hutton, Threlkeld, Keswick and G Harker and Son, Arkengarthdale to secure a shearling from Raymond Dixon’s flock at Richmond, north Yorkshire.


Averages: First day: 183 rams and ram lambs; Aged rams, £706 and ram lambs £388. Second day: 525 shearlings, £1,573. Third day: 26 shearlings, £1,997.

(Harrison and Hetherington).