Norfolk flockmaster wins top award at big sheep sale

Norfolk pedigree Texel breeder Ben Harvey won his first red rosette at a major sheep sale in North Yorkshire.

The 2012 breeding sheep season at Skipton Auction Mart started with the annual show and sale of gimmer shearlings.

It attracted a total entry of 5,217.

There was a first-time winner in the continental section when a pen of Texels from Henry Harvey & Son, of Waxham Hall, Waxham, was awarded the red rosette.

Shown by Ben, they sold for �180 each to GV Barker, of Guiseley, Leeds. The Harveys, who were making their fourth visit to the annual Skipton fixture with a consignment of 250 shearlings, sold other Texel pens for �180, �170 and �148.

They run around 300 commercial ewes, predominantly Texels, as well as breeding their own Mules, on the family's farm of about 500 acres, which includes 300 acres of arable cropping.

While the overall selling average of �140.55 per head was �5.86 down on 2011, Mule shearlings were again to the fore, with the 4,344-strong turnout well up on last year and selling to an overall average of �140.93 each, a shade over �15 per head down on last year.

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Prominent once again were many North of England Mule Sheep Association-tagged consignments from regular vendors, a good number of which were returning to the mart after being purchased at Skipton's 2011 Mule gimmer lamb show and sale, itself one of the premier fixtures of its kind in the UK. Although a smaller number of Continental-cross sheep were forward than last year, they were generally of better quality, reflected by an increase in the overall selling average in the 688-strong Texel shearling class of �141.63 per head, up �13.43 on 2011.