Rare Herdwick sales record
ALMOST 40% of Herdwick sheep have been slaughtered in the foot-and-mouth crisis this year, but breeders still managed to muster 170 rams for sale last weekend and prices reached a new record of £5100.
The sale at Cockermouth, Cumbria, drew a packed audience to view still images of the rams and 250 females.
"We felt it was extremely important to hold a sale. It was a great morale booster for Herdwick breeders," said Adam Day of auctioneer Mitchells.
"No-one can afford to sell females but those who entered ewes and gimmer lambs for the sale did so to give others the chance to buy some new foundation stock."
The top price of £5100 was paid for an outstanding shearling ram from Mark Potter of Dockray, near Penrith. Last year his flock produced the breeds previous record holder at £3550. Buyer of this years headliner was Kevin Wrathall, Ambleside.
Also beating last years record was another shearling at £4100 from Lake District farmer Gordon Cartmel, Loweswater. The buyer was Andrew Nicholson, Lorton, Cockermouth, who had most of his flock culled earlier this year.
"There were plenty of tups in the £500-600 range, giving many farmers the chance to make a start at re-building their flocks," said Mr Day.
The intense shortage of Herdwick females produced a strong trade for the 250 on offer, with sheep lotted in groups of 10-40 head. The leading bid was £102 given for a pen of 20 shearlings consigned by Cumbria breeder Mr Gray of Drigg. The buyer was David Norman, Cockermouth, who had lost all his flock earlier this year.
Gimmer lambs sold to £36. A mixed pen of females comprising ewes and gimmer hoggs made £58 a head. Three and four shear ewes peaked at £101. (Mitchells) *