Despite concerns about Coronavirus restrictions and a slightly reduced entry on the year, the Suffolk Sheep Society’s National Sale at Shrewsbury witnessed a relatively buoyant trade, albeit without any high fliers or the customary pre-sale show.

While organisers were somewhat apprehensive prior to the event, most were pleasantly surprised at how well it went and with the overall sale clearance of 72%.

In all, 104 of the 152 ram lambs forward changed hands, to a top of 5200gns, representing a 68% clearance. Some 16 of the 17 females forward found new homes.

Chief executive, Robin McIlrath said: “This is a really strange year. With all of the uncertainty we are delighted that the sale went ahead, and a big thank you to all involved, not least the breeders and buyers who supported the sale.

“Entries were down on last year as expected, but the clearance was well up on 2019. When taking all things into consideration, we are well pleased with how the sale went.”

Some 65,000 viewed the online sale which was topped at 5200gns by the No 1 lamb from Stephen Sufferin’s Crewelands flock from Maghera, Northern Ireland.

His ET is bred from a flush from a home-bred ewe by Ballynacannon Booty Hunter and sired by last year’s 10,000gns Birness Hustler. He sold to Myfyr Evans, buying for his Rhaeadr flock from Denbighshire.

Mr Sufferin enjoyed one of the best trades, selling nine lambs to average just shy of £2000. He also produced the third equal top priced lamb at 4000gns when his No 2 sold at this money to J McKelvey, Killin, Castlederg, Co Fermanagh. Another ET by Hustler, he is the result of a flush from a home-bred Ballynacannon Taylor Made daughter.

Lanarkshire breeders, Jill Tooze, son Andrew and his partner Abbie Knowlson and their daughter Matilda, who own the Spittal flock from Carnwath had a cracking day, selling four lambs to average £2888 with a top price of 5100gns.

Producing a personal best for this 25-ewe flock was a son of Davishill Decision, a lamb bought privately for £900 by Strathisla Showstopper, out of a home-bred ewe by Errigal Enterprise. Full brother to last year’s second prize ewe lamb at the Highland and first prize lamb at the Great Yorkshire, he sold to M Pugh, Sheepcote, Clifford, Herefordshire.

Spittal, which is celebrating its 30th year breeding Suffolk sheep also received 4000gns from Geoff Richmond, of the Sullom flock, Preston, for the pen leader, a son of Crewelands Crete, bred from another Errigal Enterprise daughter.

An all Ireland transaction, Dennis Taylor, sold the best from his Ballynacannon flock to Lesley Liggett, buying for the Carony flock from Co Tyrone. This was an ET bred from a flush from a home-bred Mountford Mustang ewe that is a full sister to Ballynacannon Discovery and the 18,000gns Ballynacannon Attitude. The sire was the 43,000gns Birness Muzza.

Stephen Buckley’s Sitlow flock from Sittinglow, Buxton, was another in the money with tup lamb sales at 3000gns and 2600gns. Dearest was a Logiedurno Sonny Bill-sired lamb bred from a ewe by Willmar The Vape. He boasted the top muscle score of 45.9mm and sold to North Yorkshire producer, A Glaves, Cayley Lane, Brompton By Sawdon.

The 2600gns lamb, a son of Roundacre Big Bang, bred from a ewe by Sitlow Concept, was knocked down to D and A Jones, Llusetwen, Comminscoch.

Top price for Stewart Craft’s Lakeview flock from Leslie, Fife, was 2900gns paid for a ram lamb bred from Lakeview Queen of the Maze, a ewe that scooped the breed championship at Balmoral Show on three separate occasions. He is by Limestone Limited Edition and heads back up to Fife with JW Paul and Sons, Ballingall Mill Farm, Leslie.

Lakeview genetics were also behind, the next top seller at 2800gns when young Lilia Hutchinson, sold the pen leader from her Howgillfoot flock from Kaber, Kirkby Stephen, to AW Evans, Dol-llys Farm, Llanidloes, Powys She is bred from a Lakeview ewe that is a full sister to the 21,000gns Lakeview Bob, and sired by Crewelands Captain Crusader.

Just behind, on 2700gns, Welsh breeder, Dafydd Jones who owns the Frongoy flock, sold a Ballynacannon McGregor son bred from a Stockton ewe by Whitestone Footprint to M Tucker, Millers Farm, Talaton.

Top price for the the Stuart family’s Birness flock from Ellon was 2600gns for a Ballynacannon Noah-sired lamb bred from a home-bred ewe by Limestone Legacy. The buyer was GM Owen, Neuadd Wen, Newborough.

Females peaked at 1050gns for a gimmer from Stephen Cobbald, Sudbury, purchased by RJ Woolway, Cambridge, whilst ewe lambs attained 800gns came from the Tooze family’s Spittal flock, and sold to Aaron Kirkby and Son, Northallerton, North Yorkshire.

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

averages: Nine gimmers, £696 (+£181 for two less sold); seven ewe lambs, £646 (+£122 for six fewer); four shearling rams, £512; 104 ram lambs, £1092 (-£138 for 24 fewer).