1 October 1999

Lleyns buck gloomy trend

By Jeremy Hunt

THE Lleyn, the Welsh sheep breed whose popularity has been steadily increasing in recent years, stunned the crowd at Carlisle last week with a flying trade in all sections.

The 2058 ewe lambs averaged £43.73, 628 shearling ewes £58.63 and even the 280 ewes managed to level at over £46 apiece. Although the 2966 females eased by £14.13 on the year no one was complaining.

The sale exceeded demand seen at the Lleyn Sheep Societys two early season fixtures at Gaerwen and Ross-on-Wye; with northern sheep producers hit by low prime lamb returns and the crash in Mule gimmer values, Lleyn breeders admitted they were "ready for the worst".

But Duncan Nelless, whose family runs 600 Lleyns at Morpeth, Northumberland, summed up the mood as the sale drew to a close: "Everyone is over the moon.

"We would have been very pleased to get £40 apiece for our ewe lambs but we had a pen of 20 lambs at £55 and another 11 head at £47."

Apart from good prices for ewe lambs it was a shearling ram from the Nelless flock that commanded the days top price of 2000gns. It was sired by a ram bought in the same ring three years ago from Shropshire breeder J Robinson for 1400gns. The ram heads for south Wales in a joint purchase by Dai and Cynthia Morris and Lionel Organ.

South Cumbria stockbreeder John Geldard, a driving force behind the Lleyns popularity in the north, earned bids of 1100gns and 1000gns for shearlings selling both to Wootton Farms, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.

Other good ram prices included 920gns paid by Broadfield Farms, Northleach, Glos for a shearling from long-time breed supporter Norman Lawrence of Ellon, Aberdeenshire and 900gns for a ram from CP Sackville Hamilton, Malton North Yorks bought by John Morton, Penrith, Cumbria.

Entries from Mr Mortons flock have been among the most sought after at this sale in recent years. This time it was his pen of five ewe lambs that stirred the crowd into spending mood. These lambs, which had taken the champion pen title, realised the top female price of £112 a head. Buyer was J Stott, Kendal.

The reserve champion ticket went to a pen of shearlings from DG Lewis and Son, Llanddeinol which made £94 apiece to Mrs JD Blakey, Morpeth, Northumberland. (Harrison and Hetherington). &#42