THE opening store lamb show and sale at Skipton mart was won for the third year running by the Heseltine family from Hesketh House, Bolton Abbey.

Father and son Chris and Tom Heseltine have actually won four times in recent years – this time with a pen of 40 home-bred Texel/Beltex-cross lambs by a selection of home-bred tups that sold for £79 per head.

They were among a 170-strong consignment, which averaged £70.28 each for the Heseltines, who have lambed more than 1,000 sheep this year, primarily Texel-cross, along with 300 Mules.

The day attracted 4,118 lambs with trade deemed to be good considering that a strong prime lamb trade and favourable finishing conditions had continually ‘creamed off’ prime lambs as they came forward through late spring and early summer.

There was plenty for both buyers and sellers to take heart from, with medium-keep lambs selling from £56-£61 and lambs carrying frame and meat making £60-£80.

The overall selling average of £62.84 per head was an increase on 2016’s £61.76, though the lambs were generally smaller than previous years, reflecting the lighter average prime weights also seen over the past month.

Like for like, lambs were mainly £2-£3 up on the year, though smart lambs were £5-£8 dearer, while a half-bred first cross lamb was similar in price.

A consignment of 26 Beltex from Draughton’s John and Judy Garnett sold well at £81 per head, with a brace of Texel lambs from Geoff Carr, of Barnoldswick, claiming the day’s top call of £81.50 each.

Back in the show classes, the second prize pen of 49 Texel-cross lambs from Michael and Carol McKenzie, of Arncliffe, made £74 each, bettered at £76 per head for the third prize 48-strong Texel-cross pen from Michael and Elaine Dugdale, of Giggleswick.

Overall individual breed averages were: Beltex £70.45, Texel £62.58, Suffolk £62.44, Charolais £52.91, Mule £50.77.

Suffolk and Texel gimmer lambs sold to a high of £86 per head twice for two pens of 10 Texel from Alan and Sue Throup, of Silsden.

Skipton’s second big seasonal store lamb fixture on Wednesday will feature up to 6,000 lambs, along with early breeding sheep.