Herdwick sheep farmers in the Lake District are appealing for more lambs to fulfil the breed’s first export order this autumn.
The deal, struck with help from processor Kepak and the Lakeland Herdwick Direct scheme, will see four shipments of 400 Herdwick lamb carcasses leave for Belgium in October.
Eric Taylforth, who runs 1000 Herdwick ewes at Langdale in the heart of the Lake District, reckoned there were good opportunities opening up for the Herdwick breed, but more support was needed from producers.
“I’ve just had one farmer pledge 300 lambs for the Belgian order, but we need more commitment to really open up the potential for these export lambs,” he said.
The Belgian deal showed things had come a long way from the days when most Herdwick farmers saw autumn store sales as their only market, he added.
A six-month marketing campaign by Booths, a leading supermarket chain in the north west, had also helped raise the breed’s profile among consumers since it launched last winter.
About 60 lambs a week were taken by the supermarket, which had seen good demand for lambs at nine to 10 months old and reaching 20kg.
Booths plans to reintroduce Herdwick lamb sales in late autumn.
New support payments would not keep Herdwick farmers in business in the fells, Mr Taylforth said.
“We’ve got to get more for the end product.”