Right from the ring of the bell starting the Kelso ram sales friday, there was a mood of optimism. This translated into increased prices and high clearance rates.
Some 4,516 rams changed hands at an average of £569.50, a rise of £50 per head on 12 months ago. Some £2.811 million changed hands, an increase of £500,000 on last year. Making his first ever visit to the sale, cabinet secretary Richard Lochhead declared himself to be “gobsmacked” by the spectacle of the event. After spending three hours going around the sale, he described the mood as “buoyant”.
The good prices were very welcome, he said, especially as it came after a very severe winter where the sheep industry had lost stock and where feed costs had rocketed.
The top trade of the day was a £10,000 bid for a Texel shearling from Peter and Lynn Gray, Scrogtonhead, Galston. This was the second year in succession they have topped this massive sale. This year, the joint buyers of the shearling were Jack Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, and the Campbell family, Thrunton, Alnwick. The second top Texel price saw Douganhill farms, Castle Douglas, take a £7,000 bid from Fraser Beard, Dormsteads, Carlisle, to help their average for 20 shearlings sold to £1,235.
Robert Laird, Cambwell, Biggar, took a £5,200 bid for his top Texel shearling from one of the many Welsh buyers at Kelso yesterday enticed by a buying grant from the Welsh assembly for top performance rams.
Also in the Texels, Neil Crighton, Loanend, Berwick on Tweed, sold his top shearling for £5,000 to Professor Penny, Bothwell.
Kelso traditionally sees a strong interest in Bluefaced Leicesters and yesterday was no exception with the breed topped with a £7,200 bid for a shearling from Derek Hall, Lilyburn, Penicuik. The buyers were John and Jamie Pirie, Blairnavaid, Drymen. Sandy Warnock, Dreva, Biggar, brought the crowds round the ring when his pen of Bluefaced Leicester shearlings entered the ring. His first went for £5,500 before being knocked down to Hector McAskill, Woodhall, Dunbar but he then sold his other eight entries at an average of £2,267.
There were few top Suffolks on offer and the trade was topped by the Campbell family from Thrunton, Alnwick. They set a new shearling record of £4,800 before the ram was knocked down to Mike Davis and sons, Ty-Cerrig, Brecon.
Early in the sale the Benzie family, Zander, Anne and son, Neil, from Whiterashes, Turriff, sold their top Suffolk ram lamb for £4,200 to Garry Owen, who runs the Morris flock at Anglesey.
Once again Malcolm Stewart, Brotherstone, Melrose, brought forward the single biggest consignment.