Record entry for the North of England Mule sheep breed at Borderway Agri Expo in Carlisle

BORDERWAY Agri Expo, the highlight of the autumn and the last show of the season for gimmer mule lamb enthusiasts from the north of England, drew a record 22 pairs, which were placed under the eye expert of the show judge, Val Brown.

After much deliberation, Sheep Sector Pillar Val, of Dovecote Barn, near Leyburn, bestowed the NEMSA First Prize and Perpetual Trophy on James Robinson and Zac Ward of Carnforth, who were reiterating their class success at the 2019 showcase , the last time it was staged.

One of the two was by Asby Hall M13, of Andrew Brown, near Appleby, this one by G1 Smearsett, raised in Feizor in North Craven by the Booth family, the other by a son M3 Asby Hall of the herd David Lawson’s Gragareth in Westhouse, Ingleton.

The winners entered five pairs of lambs, taking home a windfall of four awards as they also placed third, fourth and sixth in the show. They buy their gimmer lambs from recognized breeders at the annual NEMSA fall sales, lamb and resell them as sheep the following year, usually in Bentham. James Robinson also runs his own Texel herd of Kaker Mill pedigree.

Returning to the show, the standing finalists were John Wilson and Janet Dunning, of Settle, with the Elliot family, of Mungrisdale, finishing fifth, Richard Batty, of Kendal, seventh and eighth, and Stephen Ridley of Penrith in ninth place.

Val – she and her husband Martin have been raising mules from the north of England for many years alongside Beltex crossbreeds as beef lambs – have praised the quality of the gimmer lambs on display.

She commented: “Judging this section to be hotly contested, I was looking for lambs that are decent, good on their legs, with good skin, lots of bones and obviously they have to be a natural and good pairing for the breed type. I had high hopes for a high level of registrations – and I was not disappointed.

Organized by Harrison & Hetherington and held at Borderway in Carlisle, Agri Expo was once again a resounding success by lowering the curtain for the 2021 exhibition season.

NEMSA National President Chris Harrison, Cumbrian sheep farmer, said: “Agri Expo remains a leading winter showcase for the UK livestock industry and the sheep sector in particular. It is a key event for us and one which always arouses great interest. We were delighted to participate again. Those standing at ringside commented on the fantastic quality of the lambs on display, which once again brought credit to breeders and exhibitors alike.

“Finally, a big thank you to all NEMSA members and buyers who travel across the country to our high profile fall sales held in the Northern Auctions. Together they have made this season a one to remember for the North of England All-round Mule in so many ways. Roll on 2022! ”

The North of England Mule is a crossbreed sheep sired by the Bluefaced Leicester ram with a Blackface Swaledale or Northumberland type dam – all renowned for their sturdiness, economy and longevity.