With numbers seemingly short nationally it was expected that our numbers would be less for the Great Annual South Molton sheep fair.

A shortage always brings a better trade and this year was no exception with averages up for every breed and a very near 100 per cent clearance rate was rewarded.

A total of 517 North Country Mule Shearlings sold to £168 for two pens of 20 from Messrs H & M Thorne of Warkleigh.

This was followed at £160 for two pens from Ross Sizmur Livestock of Okehampton who had another pen at £158.

Mr DJ Woollacott of South Molton had an excellent run of 180 which topped at £155 and Mr SJ Dallyn of Barnstaple had a run of 160 which topped at £148 for two pens.

Mr KA Hill of Bideford also had two pens at £148 and the overall average stood at £147.18 up £27.12 on the year.

424 Suffolk Mules were in strong demand selling to £155 for two pens of 21 & 22 again for Messrs H & M Thorne of Warkleigh who had another pen at £152.

A super run of sheep and a very rewarding day for the Thorne Family.

Ross Sizmur Livestock of Okehampton had a pen of 27 at £152 and Messrs HJ & RH Mildon of Brayford saw their pen also make £152.

There were 3 pens at £150, 5 pens at £148 and 31 pens at £145.

The overall average stood at £145.68 up £14.35 on the year.

A total of 256 White Face Shearlings sold to £152 for a pen of Texel Mules from Messrs ME Snell & Son of Knowstone.

Next in line were two pens of Texel Mules from Mr JB Cawsey of Torrington who had another pen at £148.

Messrs RJ & JC Rottenbury of Black Dog had two pens of Texel Mules to £148. Messrs DWC & MJ Elworthy of Warkleigh had a pen of Dorset Mules to £142 and a pen of Exmoor Mules also to £142.

Messrs MEJ Branfield & Sons of Wiveliscombe annual consignment of BFL X Texel topped at £140 and Cheviot Mules topped at £132 for Mr SJ Dallyn of Barnstaple.

Overall average at £130.37 up £11.11 on the year.

There was no shortage of demand for the older ewes, especially for the bigger, stronger ewes.

Topping the trade at £118 was Mr AJ Dart of Chulmleigh with his pen of 6 Tooth and Full Mouth Suffolk Mules.

Next at £114 was a pen of 25 Full Mouth North Country Mules from Messrs TH & PM Bolt of Tiverton who had another pen of 25 at £112.

Next best was £105 which was seen four times.

Firstly for a pen of 20 Full Mouth North Country Ewes from Mr FC Reed of North Molton.

Then for two pens of Full Mouth Texel X Ewes from Blackdown Farming of Honiton and lastly for a pen of Full Mouth North Country Mules from Mr AC Rowland of Bampton.

Overall average at £101.79 up £17.19 on the year.

Ewe lambs as expected met a mostly buoyant trade, supported by prime values and the lack of young, quality replacements available this season.

Top of the entry of 234 were two classy pens of 20 Suffolk Mule Ewe Lambs from Milborne Wick Farms LTD who were rewarded for making the journey from Sherbourne selling for £115 & £112.

Regular vendor Messrs ME Snell & Son of Knowstone also enjoyed the buoyant trade selling two pens of 20, the first being Suffolk Mule and the second a pen of Texel Mule both realising £110.

Messrs Parsonage Farms of Chulmleigh also sold Suffolk’s to £100 with Mr RW Dyer of Braunton selling the similar types to £96.00.

Overall average a healthy £93.36 up £18.54 on the year.

The overall highlight of this year’s fair came at the end of the day when the third from last ram entered the sale ring and broke all previous sheep fair records.

A super long, deep bodied shearling Suffolk from annual vendors Messrs HJ & RH Mildon of Barnstaple rang the bell at £1000.

Purchased by Mr Alan Bray of Knowstone another regular vendor, we look forward to seeing some of the progeny through our prime ring next spring.

A fruitful day for the Mildon family who also sold other Suffolks to £740 & £700 twice with their entry of Rams averaging £700.

The Smale family of North Molton also enjoyed what was a strong Ram trade with fewer presented than catalogued with his best out of a classy pen of MV Accredited Texel’s topping at £720 with others to £700 & £650.

Messrs R & MF Rottenbury & Son of Wiveliscombe, also selling powerful and shapely Texel’s saw their entry top at £700 with others sold for £650 & £580.

Following was a new vendor returning after a number of years without attending the fair Messrs EW & ME Quick of Crediton who had a clean sweep with their 11 head of Suffolks and Texels.

Their best seen for a super, balanced and square Suffolk reaching £680 with this breed being the most sought after on the day with his others realising £640, £620 & £500.

Another regular consignor Messrs MG & SR Kingdon of Barnstaple topped with Texels at £560 with others for the same vendor selling away at £400, twice.

Older Rams saw a very limited entry but prices offered a kind reminder that if they are fit and correct to go again it can be well worthwhile offering them as breeders with Mrs FE Tucker of South Molton selling deep bodied 4T & FM Charollais Rams for £340 & £300 respectively with other FM Rams to £180 for Messrs MR & MJ May of South Molton.

Ram Lambs again limited in entry with the best on offer coming from yearly vendor Mr D Smith of Chulmleigh who sold a classy square and thick set Charollais Ram Lamb to £350.

Mrs C Irwin of South Molton also a yearly vendor was rewarded with a clear sweep of her entries seeing her Charollais topping at £340.

A memorable day with over 24 rams exceeding the £500 barrier.