OVER 3,000 prime sheep went under the hammer on a busy pre-Christmas Monday at Skipton Auction Mart, the 2,429 prime lambs among them seeing a good trade when averaging £90.58 per head, or 212.1p/kg, with an additional 673 cast sheep levelling at £80.16 for ewes and £94.50 for rams.

Vendors of the smart end of goods were again well rewarded with some excellent prices. A total of eight pens of prime lambs sold for 300p/kg or more and to a by-weight high of 320.5p/kg, or £125 per head, for 39kg Beltex from Paul Simpson, of Bolton-by-Bowland.

A further 40 pens of lambs sold from 250p/kg to 298p/kg, with the top per head price of the day of £128 falling to Beltex from Welsh vendors JTD&HW Williams, of Llanddeusant in Llangadog, purchased by Hartshead Meat Co in Mossley.

In total, ten pens sold for over £120 or more, another 18 pens from £110 to £119 and a further 56 from £100 to £109. Some solid flock averages were also seen, among the many catching the eye 114 Continental lambs from Paul Simpson at an average of 288.47p/kg, or £115.98 per head.

Handy weight lambs of all breeds were good to sell, with a straight commercial type making 200- 230p/kg, while nice Mules were around 185-195p’kg, topping at 197.1p from mart regular Steve Dorey, of Norton Disney in Lincolnshire. Nice horned lambs made 170-190p/kg, peaking at 195p for Dalesbreds from the Close family in Starbotton.

The large turnout of cast sheep produced strong trade, the best Continentals and Suffolks making £110 to £130, these for Texels from Richard Wilson, of Beckwithshaw.

Medium sorts sold from £80 to £105, strong Mules £85 to £95 and medium Mules £70 to £80. The best horned ewes made £65 to £75, mediums £50 to £60 and smaller sorts £35 to £50.

Also on the same day’s agenda was the ever-popular annual sale of oven-ready poultry destined for Christmas tables.

In total there were 551 lots, the vast majority fresh turkeys, with some mouth-watering bargains again to be plucked from a sale ring packed with both birds and buyers.

Looking ahead to the start of a new decade, Skipton’s 2020 sales season kicks off with the usual Monday market on January 6, followed two days later on the Wednesday by the Great New Year opening cattle sale for feeding bulls, beef feeding cows, store and breeding cattle.

Then, on Thursday, January 9, it’s the 28th annual winter show and sale of pedigree in-lamb females for members of Northern Area Texel Sheep Breeders, with the opening monthly Saturday livestock collective sales scheduled for January 11.