The North of England Mule Sheep Association has described trade during its autumn gimmer lamb sales season as unprecedented.
The association says 149,000 NEMSA-tagged ewe lambs — 2,000 up on the previous year — were sold this autumn at annual sales staged at northern marts.
Average prices were up from 2019, and in most cases well up.
NEMSA’s national chairman, Chris Harrison, Coatlith Hill, Alston, said: “To say we were pleasantly surprised with the ewe lamb trade this year is an understatement.
“It’s fair to say we were, in fact, bowled over, and our warmest thanks and continuing appreciation go to all who helped make this outcome possible — breeders, buyers and auction marts.
“Many, some familiar faces among them, again travelled long distances from all corners of the country, including our old friends from the deep south in Devon and Cornwall.
“And while they paid more this year, they didn’t appear overly concerned, further underpinning the demand for and continuing popularity of the North of England Mule.”
He added: “One well known auctioneer commented that after some sheep producers had briefly looked elsewhere, the North of England Mule gimmer lamb bounced back to prove herself as possibly the most resilient, long-standing and prolific breeding sheep in the UK, resulting in an abundance of buyers from all parts of the country.”
At the country’s largest single sale of Mule gimmer lambs, the Alston Moor sale held at Lazonby mart, Harrison and Hetherington presented 15,540 head.
Auctioneer James Little said: “This great annual event again attracted a huge amount of interest, with sheep selling to buyers covering the length and breadth of the UK.
“The lambs in the majority are sourced from Alston Moor, the East Fellside and the Lakeland Fells of Cumbria, and into Northumberland.
“They came forward this year in fantastic bloom, being a credit to all vendors, with a 100 per cent turnout on the catalogue, a 100 per cent clearance and an average of £107.02 — up £24.03 on the year.
“Turnover for the day was in excess of £1.4 million.”