SALES of breeding cattle have now made a welcome return to UK auction marts and, while safe distancing and other restrictions remain in place for both vendors and buyers alike, the resumption at Skipton received a warm reception from all parties. (Wed, May 13)

The opener attracted a solid turnout of 601 head and trade was exceptional for both young feeding bulls and beef feeding cows in particular, with 148 head of the former sold to a full complement of purchasers from all areas across the north and midlands.

The best strong continentals sold for £1,100-plus, with the overall average of £953 per head including a larger than usual entry of grazing bulls, which were themselves a very good trade.

Heading the section at £1,320 was a Limousin-cross from Calderdale’s Richard Horsfall, of Ludendenfoot, with North Craven mother and son, Janet and James Huck, of Austwick, next best with a £1,250 Limousin. The Hucks also had two further section top calls of £1,200 for a Blonde bull and £1,135 for a British Blue. Native entries averaged £802.

With keep and a rising finished price, trade for the 57 feeding cows mirrored that of the bulls, plenty of first-cross beef cows open to further improvement selling away at £900-plus, while three-quarters beef cows or cattle to turn away to grass were equally strong.

Trade peaked at £1,180 for a Limousin from John Greenhalgh, of Bashall Eaves, closely followed at £1,170 by a Beef Shorthorn consigned by W&M Hebron, of Clayton, Bradford. The overall section average was £879 per head.

Of the near 400 store bullocks and heifers penned for sale, older feeding cattle were nicely sold. Finishers were buoyed by a generally stronger prime trade, with live marts reporting both increased entries and averages of late and processors having to follow suit and raise their own quotes.

Several smart runs of older cattle achieved £1,150 up to a high of £1,300 for a Limousin-cross heifer from the Hall family in Gargrave, followed at £1,295 by a further Limousin from Austwick’s James and Deborah Ogden, another from Ellis Bros, of Addingham Moorside, hitting £1,240.

Other good beef-bred types made £1,050-plus, while older beef/dairy cross heifers sold from the mid-£900s to around £1,050, producing overall section averages of £877 for continental-cross and £714 for natives.

Corresponding averages for store bullocks were £947 and £824, with stronger steers in particular doing well, decent 18 to 22-month-old types for grazing making either side of £1,100, the next grade £1,040 to £1,080. Ellis Bros again caught the eye, heading the prices at £1,145 twice with both Limousin and British Blue crosses.

Younger grazing cattle also saw strong trade, with ready demand from active purchasers. Getting away notably well were those in the 7-15 months age bracket, this section led at £1,110 by a home-bred 11-month-old Limousin heifer from WI&AM Atkinson, of Bleasdale, bullocks under 12- months topping at £1,000 for another Limousin from Roland Carr, of Hawpike.

Of the stores in general, once again both Aberdeen-Angus and Charolais bullocks and heifers sold very well to purchasers looking for cattle to grow on and then likely sell back through Skipton’s store ring in the winter months as larger feeding cattle.

Last, but not least, the eight breeding cattle on offer sold to £1,180 for a Simmental-cross cow and her Limousin-cross heifer calf from Cheadle’s Craig Schofield.

Breeding cattle will be back again on Wednesday, May 27, with an entry of up to 675 head across all classes anticipated.