CALDERDALE sheep farmer John Midgley won the supreme lowland championship for the first time at Skipton Auction Mart’s 2020 Christmas prime lambs show.

Mr Midgley, of Dean House Farm, Ludendenfoot, clinched the prestigious title with his first-prize Continental trimmed trio of home-bred Beltex-cross lambs, by a pedigree Beltex ram, Muirton Carlisle ET, acquired from Aberdeenshire breeder Jimmy Young and used successfully for the past three years on the Upper Calder Valley flock, which comprises some 40 Beltex breeding ewes.

Also running a 75 head commercial dairy herd, bottling milk for local doorstep deliveries, Mr Midgley saw his Christmas prime lamb victors – two gimmer lambs and a wether lamb each weighing 35kg – keenly contested at the ringside before falling for a sale high £360 each or £10.28 per kilo to Cropper Family Butchers & Deli in Accrington, where they will on sale for the peak festive trade.

The standard of 41 pens of show lambs was excellent, which made it no easy task for the judge, York area farmer and retail butcher, Anthony Swales. He remained in the trimmed lambs show class when nominating the runners-up as his overall reserve supreme champions, who for the second year running were local husband and wife Anthony and Emma Thompson, of Higher Bracken Farm, Foulridge.

And it was the adjudicator himself who went to £180 per head to purchase the 38kg Beltex-cross trio, all by a home-bred tup, and they, too, will be prepared for the Christmas trade at Mr Swales’ family-run Knavesmire Butchers in Albermarle Road, York, just a furlong or two from the city’s famous racecourse.

Prizes in a standalone show class for Down-cross lambs fell to vendors from the Hambleton district. The first prize 48kg trio from Richard Wood, of Stokesley, sold for top price in class of £119 each to regular supporter James Robertshaw, of Robertshaw’s Farm Shop in Thornton, near Bradford.

Local butchers, farm shops and wholesalers were keen supporters as usual at the annual fixture, when a solid entry of 3,900 prime lambs sold to an overall average of £98.69 per head, or 225.2p/kg, an increase of 3p/kg on the week. For comparison, the SQQ (up to 45.5kg) was 229.3p/kg.

The Christmas show for hill-bred prime lambs will be staged on Monday, December 14, with five show classes for the usual breeds, from which a champion hill trio will emerge.