Aberdeenshire breeders, George and Melvin Stuart, provided two of the top three sale leaders at the


Sheep Society's National sale at Shrewsbury, with lambs at 7200gns and 6000gns.

The sale from father and son duo from Mains of Birness, Ellon, was viewed by 23,000 people online, with the top priced entry, a ram lamb by Ballynacannon Noah – a 6500gns purchase at Stirling, knocked down to Stephen Cobbald, buying for this Lavenham flock from Suffolk. The No 2 in the pen, he is out of a home-bred ewe by Annakisha Apache.

The Stuarts who sold five lambs from their Birness flock to average £3906, also made their mark in the show ring, securing the pre-sale championship with the first prize single ram lamb, and the award for the best pen of three.

Their champion, was the pen leader, another Noah son this time out of a ewe by Ballynacannon Commander. He sold to to Wales with DJ Harvey, Powys.

While Birness enjoyed a cracking trade, demand was far from rosy elsewhere with ram lamb averages down £245 per head on the year.

Robin McIlrath chief executive of the society, was nevertheless far from despondent and pointed out clearance rates were up slightly on the year from 64% to 65%. He also blamed the reduced prices on the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

"We live in challenging times, full of uncertainty,” he said. "There was a distinct lack of continental buyers at the sale this year and there is definitely a general reluctance amongst farmers to invest too heavily until the outlook for the sector over the next few years becomes clearer.

"Irrespective of individual political views regarding Brexit, this high level of uncertainty is most certainly a concern for our members and has had a detrimental effect on prices.”

The reserve champion from William Tait's Burnview flock from Lislap, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, sold for the second top price of 6600gns to new breeder, young Darren McMenamin, buying for his Donegal-based Mullinvale flock. For his money, he gets a son of Strathbogie Im Invincible, a 6200gns purchase here in 2017, out of a ewe by Oldmill Lieutenant. Backed by the best of breeding this entry which stood sixth at Balmoral Show, is a full brother to the 10,000gns Burnview Bombay Sapphire sold at Stirling last year.

Mark Priestley’s Limestone pen from Seaforde, Co Down, also enjoyed a good day selling six lambs to average 2730gns. Dearest here at 5200gns was the No 2, a son of Limestone Aston Martin – the Stirling champion in 2018 which sold for 40,000gns and also sired the Balmoral Show champion in May – bred from a Forkins ewe by Birness Bacardi. Maternal brother to the 9500gns Limestone Legacy, he headed back across the Irish Sea, having been purchased by Jason Trimble.

Just behind, on 5000gns Mr Priestley sold his pen leader to E Duffy buying for his Kells flock in the Republic of Ireland. Another by Aston Martin, this lamb is out of a Balquhain ewe by Deveronside Doodlebug that was bought as a gimmer for 2800gns.

Matching that 5000gns sale was the best from JT and EA Midgley's Orion flock from York, which was knocked down to JM Robinson and Sons, buying for their Crusoe flock in Lincolnshire. A son of the 4200gns Strathbogie Shogun bought at Stirling in 2017, he is out of a home-bred ewe by Deveronside Dravid.

Top price for DG Jones’ Aberystwyth-based Frongoy flock was 4300gns paid for the male champion at the Three Counties Show, a son of Ballynacannon Mcgregor bred from a Stockton ewe by Whitestone Footprint. A full brother to a 2000gns lamb sold last year, he headed back to the same area having been purchased by BJ and LA Pritchard buying for their Tiptop flock.

Myfyr Evans' Rhaeadr flock from Llanrhaeadr, Denbigh, Wales, sold his best at 4000gns to Pamela Lupton, Greenholme, Ripon, North Yorkshire. He is by Stockton Snipers Son, the reserve champion here last year purchased for 15,500gns.

A mating between a Carony ewe by Rhaeadr Red Bull and Rookery Ringmaster produced a 3500gns sale for R and M Liggett's Carony flock from Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, which also sold back across the Irish Sea, having been bought by Dennis Taylor, buying for his Bristol Gold Cup winning Ballynacannon flock from Co Londonderry.

Helping to finance that transaction, Mr Taylor received 3000gns from Stephanie Ryder for a son of Beechbrook Bombastic.

Two other lambs made 3000gns to include Stephen Sufferin's No 2 from the Crewelands flock from Maghera, Co Londonderry. This was a son of Birness Playboy out of a home-bred ewe by Ballynacannon Taylor Made, purchased by Iain and Judith Barbour buying for their Solwaybank flock from Rosefield, Annan.

And, Aled and Nia Williams, Rhosgoch, Amlwch, Anglesey, paid the same money for T and A Mogford's Crewelands Masterpiece-sired lamb, from Higher Edgeworthy, Devon.

Females peaked at 1500gns for a ewe lamb by a home-bred sire from Chris Holmes' Rookery flock from Worcester, purchased by P Kennedy and P McVerry from Northern Ireland.

Averages: 11 gimmers, £515; 13 ewe lambs, £524; 128 ram lambs, £1230 (-£245 for three fewer).

Auctioneers: J Straker, Chadwick and Sons, Abergavenny and Halls, Shrewsbury.