ALL EYES were on Skipton auction mart last week (w/e Sept 10) when the season‘s first major offering of almost 8000 North of England Mule gimmer lambs hit the market to return an average of £65.03, well above expectations.

But this fixture, a pipe-opener to the autumn‘s North of England Mule Sheep Association sales, didn‘t go down too well with buyers who expected a bigger drop in values after last year‘s bonanza trade.

And some buyers at the ringside said prices would need to ease as the season progressed.

Some reckon buyers may switch to shearlings which look a better bet at £85 a head; their ability to produce more lambs and bigger lambs could certainly make gimmers seem dear at £65 a head.

But pundits aren‘t expecting breeding lamb values to fall much over the coming weeks when over 100,000 will be traded at northern markets – even though last week saw prime lambs fall by up to £5 a head in some marts.

Skipton auctioneer Jeremy Eaton described the Mule gimmer lamb trade as “exceptional”.

“We were only around £8 back on last year‘s trade which was a flier. Plenty of pens made £85 a head last week and even the plainer marked white-faced lambs were £60 a head.

“We couldn‘t have wished for a better start to the season,” said Mr Eaton.