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Top end sheep in solid demand at CCM Skipton gimmer shearling opener.

James Towler and Sammy Fawcett, left, receiving The Edgar Boothman Trophy from Thomas Boothman for their 1st prize pen of North of England Mule gimmer shearlings at CCM Skipton, joined by co-judges Colin and Tom Ryder. (Adrian Legge Photography)

The 2023 breeding sheep season at CCM Skipton Auction Mart again launched with the traditional opening annual show and sale of gimmer shearlings, when 5,271 head at a fixture regarded as one of the keynote early sales in the northern calendar sold to an overall all-breeds average of £164.95, compared to £174.14 for 5,091 head the previous year. (Tues, Aug 22)

Overall, shearling ewes found a mixed reception, with, as anticipated, the top third of the entry, both Continental and Mule, in very good demand, many making £200-plus. The middle third of sheep were a variable trade, though as buyers filled trailers and left at the back end of the day the strong middle order of sheep looked particularly good value at £145. Prior to that, the category was £155-£165.

In the five breed show classes for pens of ten, all but one of last year’s victors successfully defended their crowns.

Champion Mule Pen from James Towler and Sammy Fawcett (Adrian Legge Photography)

The first prize pen of Mule shearlings again came from the Ribble Valley in the hands of James Towler and partner Sammy Fawcett, Steelands Farm, Grindleton, retaining the Edgar Boothman Trophy, also presented by nephew Thomas.

All were again purchased at last autumn’s annual North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA) gimmer lamb sales, including six at Skipton by Bluefaced Leicester tups from Chris and Christine Ryder, Blubberhouses, and John and Rose Tennant, Bordley, the others by Chris Sharp, Chapel-le-Dale, and Dunn family, Breck House, Bransdale, rams. All the shearlings had lambed as hoggs and they sold at a section-topping £260 to Tom Walmsley, Haverah Park, Harrogate, another Towler pen making £230.

The Fox family, Withgill, Clitheroe, stepped up on their third prize class win in 2022 to stand runners-up this year, their pen away at £232, the third prize pen from JW Hall & Son, Darnbrook, Malham Moor, doing better at £250, plus another at £228. W&M Oldfield, Gisburn, also sold Mules to £225.

Thomas Boothman, right, presents the Edgar Boothman Trophy to North of England Mule class winners James Towler and Sammy Fawcett, holding two-year-old son Harry. (Adrian Legge Photography)

Mule shearlings were almost a three- tier market, the best and strongest end, mainly vaccinated

against Enzo and Toxo, regularly hitting £180-plus and in very strong demand, with a long list achieving £200-plus. A middle of the road Mule met a variable trade between £150-£180, with customers again keen to secure vaccinated sheep in the top end of that price range.

MULE SHEARLING AVERAGE: £163.32 (2022 £176.85 -£13.53)

BREEDING EWES : 2-crop Mules sold to £205.

Adrian Legge Photography

Further info: Robin Moule 07976 559961

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