IN DEMAND: The North of England Mule
IN DEMAND: The North of England Mule

BREEDERS were “bowled over” by trade at this year’s Mule gimmer lamb sales.
Some 149,000 North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA)-tagged ewe lambs were sold at the annual sales across the north.
Alston Mule breeder Chris Harrison, NEMSA’s national chairman, said: “To say we were pleasantly surprised with 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 one and all. It is true testament in uncertain times to all the hard graft and unstinting efforts again put in by NEMSA breeders.”
He added: “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 too overly concerned, further underpinning the demand for and continuing popularity of the North of England Mule UK-wide.
“Huge thanks must also go to our auction marts, who pulled out all the stops to ensure the sales must go on despite Covid-19.”
At Barnard Castle, day one of its two-day sales was open to both members and non members of NEMSA, attracting an entry of 2,000.
Auctioneer Libby Bell said: “This new sales fixture achieved a marvellous average of £106.74 and credit for this must be given to the vendors for presenting an outstanding show of stock and many thanks to both local and travelled buyers for their support.”
The second day saw 4,200 NEMSA gimmer lambs sold.
Ms Bell added: “Once again a tremendous show of lambs was forward, resulting in a fantastic average of £113.36. This average only confirms the quality on offer at this noted sale.”
Kirkby Stephen’s NEMSA opener attracted a solid catalogued entry of 10,585 lambs, with many buyers left short of requirements.
Auctioneer Mark Richardson said: “A wonderful overall sale average of £103.75 was £20.47 up on the year. Eight new buyers were in attendance, with most being first time KS buyers.
“After a couple of years of some sheep producers looking to alternative breeds of sheep, 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.”
Middleton-in-Teesdale Mart’s annual fixture saw a quality show of 1,550 head presented to a ringside of both regular and new customers. Auctioneers H&H said: “Another tremendous average of £92.12 was achieved, up £23 on the year. Great credit must go to all consignors for putting forward such a quality show of lambs,” said the auctioneers.
At St John’s Chapel Auction Mart’s annual prize show and sale staged by Barnard Castle & Teesdale Farmers Auction Market Co, a catalogued entry of 2,400 Mule gimmer lambs was presented to a keen ringside of regular and new buyers.
Auctioneer Ms Bell reported: “It resulted in a marvellous trade throughout the day. Many purchasers commented on the quality of the lambs on offer at this sale so every credit goes to the vendors for their hard work and stockmanship.”
The sale averaged £105.11 (£23.96 up on 2019).