FARMERS’ confidence in store cattle seems unaffected by Brexit, if Friday’s sale at Hexham Mart is anything to go by.

The 438-strong catalogue of predominantly suckler beef bred types offered up some handsome returns on some handsome beasts, chief among them a 20-month-old Limousin cross steer from Messrs Walton, of Ogle Castle, that was knocked down for £1370.

The top heifer of the day, in the shape of an 18-month Limousin cross from James Herdman, of Edlingham Newtown, wasn’t far behind at £1340.

The 11 to 17 month bracket, meanwhile, was dominated by a great run of British Blue cross heifers at 12 months from father and son team John and Steven Yeats, of Wood House, Coanwood.

However, the hottest competition of the day took place in the youngest age class, thanks to the input of regular consignors from all over the region.

The Waltons of Greyside, Hexham, led the way with a 10-month-old Limousin bullock that went for £1090, but their near neighbours, the Teasdales at Grindon Hill, were hot on their heels with nine steers that averaged £1046 and four heifers, that averaged £943 at ten months.

Some of the most sought after cattle of the day, though, were fielded by David Milburn and his father, Ridley, of Wallend and College Farms, at Greenhead.

Described in the ring as “exceptionally well bred calves with bags of shape and potential”, the 14 steers averaged £992. Their consignment of five heifers peaked at £995 too.

“They were just nine months old, but they did sell well,” said Ridley. “I went for lunch and one or two people commented on our cattle – it was the fact that all of them were good for their age, which is unusual.

“I was pleased for David, because he has put a lot of hard work getting the herd to where it is. He deserves the success.”

The Milburns run roughly 100 suckler cows and just short of 1000 breeding ewes, and it is the latter that determine when the cattle are moved off the farm.

While keeping the cattle for another couple of months might fetch another £100 a head, they needed the sheds to be ready for lambing in mid-March.

Ridley said: “There are special cattle sales in March that often attract big buyers from the south, but the timing doesn’t suit our management method – we have to get our cattle away before then.”

Their average was slightly up on last year, a matter of about £20, so prices had remained pretty consistent.

“If there’s a bad Brexit, there will be tariffs on Irish and Polish cattle, so I think our cattle might hold their own,” he said.