THERE may have been a feeling of apprehension in the air as breeders of Blackface rams prepared for the annual sale at Hexham, but prices held up well and a top price of £18,000 early on in the sale helped bolster the overall average to £799.79 for 244 shearlings sold. 

"I’m quite happy with the trade in general and it hasn’t mirrored the reduced trade seen for females," said Hexham and Northern Marts auctioneer, Chris Armstrong. "There was a bit of apprehension prior to the sale that we’d be in for a torrid time, but the best-end of rams sold well and there was a sound, commercial middle trade while, as always, the tail-end struggled to sell."

The sole ram to break the five-figure barrier was the supreme champion in the shape of a shearling entry from the Dudlees shepherd’s pack, which went on to sell to the Pattinsons at Hotbank for £18,000. Entered by Steven Mackay on behalf of his daughters, 10-year-old Amy and seven-year-old Anna, this strapping lad is by the £1400 Williamhope bought at Lanark two years ago, and out of a ewe by a loaned Elmscleugh sire. 

The second top price of £5500 was received by George Famelton for a shearling from his 400-strong Horseholme flock. Selling to the Walton and Robson team at Toft House, he is the dearest to sell so far by the £800 Wanwood Hill, and was used at home as a lamb. 

On the other side of the balance sheet, the Toft House team – Joe and Philip Walton together with Stuart Robson – saw their first four sell for £5000, £4000, £4200 and £4000, in that order. First through the ring and selling to Steel and Carrick flocks of Andrew and Caroline Hunter for that £5000 was among the first crop to sell by the £11,000 Horseholme, while the dam is by a £1200 Wanwood Hill.

The first £4200 and first of the £4000 Toft House rams both sold to Steel and Carrick, while the second £4000 Toft House tup sold to Nilston Rigg.

A further two tups sold for £4000, with the first of these being a Yatesfield shearling from Selby Robson, which sold to JS Gibson and Son, while Charlie Halbert and wife Rachel sold a Prospect House shearling to Wanwood Hill.

See this week's issue of The Scottish Farmer for the full report.