Reports by Patsy Hunter, Julie Wight and Kathryn Dick

Photographs by Rob Haining

Sheep farmers defied the doomsday scenarios predicted by those in the know in the event of a No Deal Brexit, with a cracking trade for virtually all breeds at the Kelso Ram Sales, which saw overall averages up by almost £17 per head on the year, albeit for fewer sold.

In all some 4191 rams were sold to average £698.28 – the second highest average to date – from lead prices of £15,000 and £12,000 paid for Bluefaced Leicester shearlings and more modest highs for Texel and Suffolk rams.

This compares to the top prices paid last year of £29,000 and £16,000 for Texels.

Shearling rams enjoyed the best of the day's trading with flockmasters looking for tups that could go out and work on the back of improved breeding sheep sales and store lambs which have all sold better than expected.

Add to that the fact that most people were up to date with harvest work and the event attracted more buyers than normal, which in turn led to a buoyant trade throughout.

"I was delighted with the way the sale went," said Stuart Craig, chairman of the Border Union Ram Sales.

"I don't remember seeing Springwood Park quite so busy on ram sale day. There was hardly a parking space or catalogue to be had! As well as the usual large Irish contingent, we had buyers from Cornwall to Orkney and a group over from Germany to buy Suffolks."

"A month or two ago, I'd not have predicted the overall sale average would be up almost £20 per head on the year. Trade may have been buoyed by the fact there were 200 less shearlings forward compared to last year, which was possibly a legacy of the beast from the east."

In contrast to previous years which have seen the Bluefaced Leicester breed top the averages league, this year accredited Texel shearling rams led the way, averaging a colossal £975.20 for the most number sold at 766. This compares to the Blues which produced the second top average at £968.29 for just 450.

Accredited Texel and Suffolk shearlings also boasted the highest lift at £92 per head. Conversely, the lamb averages were down for nearly all breeds.

The Beltex breed also enjoyed a good day with bumper prices up to £6000 and £5000, with cross-breds again proving popular being led by the Ingrams from Logie Durno who sold a Durno shearling ram (Charollais x Texel) for £3200.

One of the best sales however has to be that of local breeder, John Elliot, Rawburn, who sold no fewer than 95 Suffolk and Texel shearlings to a top of £8500 for a Texel, to average a whopping £1284.