Scots faith in Cheviot Hills

12 October 2001

Scots faith in Cheviot Hills

SCOTTISH hill farmers made a firm commitment to the future quality of their sheep flocks on a day of confident trading for Cheviot Hill rams at Lockerbie where prices reached £8500.

Although the stock on offer was presented to buyers "on screen", and the 174 head was less than half the usual entry at this fixture, there was keen demand.

Compared with last year, the sale average rose by £491 to an overall level of £939. The 77 shearling rams averaged £1040, and 58 two-shears averaged £804.

It was a day to remember for father and daughter team Finlay and Morag Smith, who run the Stirkfield flock at Broughton, Biggar, Lanarkshire, and not only sold at the top price of £8500, but also at £6200, £3200 and £2700. The Stirkfield flocks average for eight rams was £3175.

Morag Smith said: "After such a dreadful year it was wonderful to see confidence returning. Our rams were at the very end of the sale but the buyers hung on. It is a day well never forget."

Although foot-and-mouth has claimed over 20,000 Cheviot sheep, many of the buyers of the most expensive rams, including the top price, were not spending compensation cash.

The £8500 shearling, which is by Winterhope Nick Nack and bought by the Smiths for £1250 in 1995, was claimed by Robert Paton, Castle Crawford, Lanarks.

The Stirkfield flock also sold another Nick Nack shearling at £6200 to Mark and Linda Bell who run the Winterhope flock near Lockerbie. Two others from the same consignment sold well. A Bloch-bred ram was taken by Messrs Common, Crossdykes, Lockerbie, at £3200 and one by Winterhope reflection sold at £2700 to J A Reid, Glendearg, Langholm.

Michael Dickie of auctioneer Harrison and Hetherington said: "Some buyers were looking for new stock sheep after losing their flocks during the early days of the crisis, but there were plenty of others who were unaffected by F&M, but were equally determined to secure quality rams.

"Considering the reduced number of rams on sale and the absence of buyers from Wales, the day was a great morale booster for Cheviot breeders." &#42

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