SPRING lamb numbers shot back up at Skipton Auction Mart’s latest weekly Monday sale, with the 1,744 head forward well over 400 more than the previous week, boosted by overall trade described as ‘superb’ at 237.3p/kg – up 17p on the week – or £98.08 per head (£90.73).

All classes were keenly contested from start to finish by both retail and wholesale buyers, with heavy lambs very good to sell and handyweight export lambs dearer on the week by some margin.

With another total clearance, lambs weighing from 32kg right up to 63kg were successfully sold, prices ranging from £72 for the 32kg bracket up to a day’s high of £134 per head, or 273p/kg, for a single 49kg Suffolk from John Nutter, of Hurst Green, which was among a number of acquisitions by James Robertshaw, of Robertshaw’s Farm Shop in Thornton.

Jim Snowden, of Rylstone, achieved joint top price by weight at 289p/kg (£113 each) with a trio of 39kg Texel lambs, a price matched by same way bred lambs, plus another pen at 278p/kg, from the Kitching family in Threshfield. All three pens sold to Vivers Scotlamb in Annan.

A measure of the excellent across-the-board trade was illustrated by the fact that a total of 70 pens, or just over 300 lambs, sold in excess of 250p/kg, with the 46-52kg bracket averaging 242.9p/kg, or £116.93, and those over 52kg averaging £126. Mule wethers, now appearing in larger numbers, topped at £92, averaging 219.4p/kg.

A small entry of 52 prime hoggs still looked a good trade when averaging £76 per head, the 17 mature sheep among them selling to £84 at an average of £69.

Also penned for sale were 324 cast sheep, the majority again cull ewes, which met another flying trade, selling to a top of £129.50 per head for a Texel pen and averaging £76.42, compared to the previous week’s £64.89. Cast rams averaged £90.50, also up on last week’s £79.50.

In the prime cattle ring, another quality turnout of 20 under 30-month-olds proved in keen demand by the retail sector, again producing a very good trade.

George Cropper Jnr, of Sandersons Butchers in Baxenden, returned to claim a trio, among them the top gross and per kilo price 550kg Limousin-cross heifer from Bill Cowperthwaite on Malham Moor at 256.5p/kg, or £1,411.

The second high of the day also came from Mr Cowperthwaite, another 590kg Limousin-cross heifer sold to Ellison’s Butchers in Cullingworth for £1,401 or 237.5p/kg, one of their two purchases.

James Robertshaw was yet again the leading buyer, securing nine cattle in total, five for his own Robertshaw’s Farm Shop in Thornton, the others for Skipton-based Keelham Farm Shop.

Among his own acquisitions were the two top price steers, a 580kg Limousin-cross from Charles and Richard Kitching in Threshfield at £1,395 (240.5p/kg), and a further 565kg Limousin-cross from Masongill father and son, Francis and Andrew Smith, at 241.5p (£1,365).

Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop in Lancaster again got in among the top cattle with three buys, including the second highest priced steer, a 570kg British Blue-cross from regular suppliers, the Critchley family in Hutton, at £1,365, or 239.5p/kg.

With not quite as much meat on offer, there was not quite as much heat in cull cow trade, with the 21 head averaging £730.04, or 115.01p/kg.

However, the odd heavy dairy among them was still top side of 125p/kg, with dual highs of 126.5p/kg for black and whites both from JD Crabtree & Son, of Hartwith, while straight first-cross beef cows were around 140p/kg, peaking at 145.5p.kg, or £1,099, for a Limousin-cross from M Mallinson, of Mount Tabor

Skipton again proved its worth as one of the leading young rearing calf sales centres, with the 53 head forward making serious money before a ringside said to be ‘electric,’ with buyers out in force from a wide catchment area.

A solid top call of £500, the best of the year to date, fell to a Limousin-cross bull calf from Clitheroe’s D Breaks, who achieved five section tops in total, also selling a Blonde bull calf at £420, a Limousin heifer at £400, an Aberdeen-Angus heifer at £370 and a Charolais heifer at £150.

Another Limousin bull calf made £440, the section averaging £380, while British Blue-cross bull calves peaked at £435 for one from David and Margaret Booth in Lothersdale, with an average of £384. Blue heifer calves averaged £321.

Twelve Angus bull calves saw the best above £300, with Angus heifers all making £200-plus. Black and white calves sold from £60 up to £190 for a bull from Jonathan Caygill, in Rylstone, the section averaging £91.

The fortnightly dairy cattle sale produced a top price of £2,120 for a home-bred newly calven heifer, Aireburn Quaich Doll, from Brian and Judith Moorhouse’s pedigree herd in Bell Busk, another from the same home making £2,020. Both fell to Brian Blezard in Ribchester.

Regular vendors Mark Smith, of Winterburn, and Bishop Thornton’s Peter Baul, also consigned good heifers with plenty of milk and trade averaged £1,908 overall for the five fresh heifers forward. Mr Smith topped the commercial trade at £2,000.