The first of this season’s major North of England Mule ewe lamb sales sold to a top call of £190 each for the third prize pen of 10 from Joe and Nancy Throup, of Draughton, bought by Frank Brennand, Chapel-le-Dale.

And, with a total clearance of more than 6000 ewe lambs entered and an overall average of £91.79, a figure which would have been a more than respectable top price in previous years, the overall trend for the trade this year look’s highly positive. Tellingly the average was just shy of £20 up on last year’s trade.

Other leading prices included a £180 bid for the champion pen of 10 from Ashley Caton, Otterburn Lodge Farm, Otterburn.These sold to co-judge Claire Morris, Barnard Castle. Meanwhile, Mr Caton’s champion pen of 20 lambs sold at £135 a head to co-judge Ben Harvey, Waxham, Norfolk.

Top price in the pens of 20 was a joint top bid of £145 apiece for the second prize pen from Ellis Bros, Addingham Moorside, and the third prize pen from David and Robin Booth, Feizor, Austwick. They sold respectively to Richard and Mark Ireland, Whalley, and Brian Ridsdale, Penrith.