AN increased entry of 3,926 head – 300 up on last year – were at the annual Swaledale females sale of draft ewes and gimmer shearlings at Skipton mart on Saturday.

Trade was much sharper than expected, producing an overall selling average of £107.81 per head – a fall of just 28 pence on 2016, with a ten per cent increase in numbers sold.

Show champions for a second time were husband and wife, Stuart and Debbie Robinson, of Horton-in-Ribblesdale, with their first-prize pen of ten home-bred three-crop ewes.

Four were by a Paul Harker Punchard tup, two by a John Bland ram, two by a Geoff Marwood tup, and the other two by Thomas Iveson and Robert Cowperthwaite rams.

The victors sold for £190 per head, top price in class, to R & A White & Son, of Bamford.

The Robinsons also took the second prize pen of ten gimmer shearlings, which made £200 each.

Chris Akrigg, who farms high in the Yorkshire Dales with his wife Gwyneth and sons Tom, John and William at Manor Farm Cray, sent out the first prize and reserve champion pen of ten gimmer shearlings, all homebred by Lightfoot, Foggy Gill, Brogden and Dent tups.

These made the day’s joint top price of £240 per head when sold to Ellis Bros, of Addingham Moorside.

The Akriggs also had the second-prize ewes, knocked down at £185 each, and sold a second shearling pen at £190.

A large turnout of Swaledale gimmer shearlings averaged £124.67 per head overall.

Ewe averages were: two-crop £112.88; three-crop £97.82; and four-crop £60.55.