Sheep breeders strike rich vein of four-figure deals for quality stock

THE ESSENCE of Mule sheep breeding – the Bluefaced Leicester and the Swaledale – drew a bumper crowd to Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales last weekend for a select sale of females organised by the Bluefaced Leicester Sheep Breeders Association and the Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association.

Although comparative averages on the year eased in most age categories, the overall trade produced a string of four-figure deals.

Auctioneer Maurice Hall, of Hawes Auction Mart, said: “This was a choice entry of quality females that produced some keen bidding for sheep from the top flocks.

“Apart from the Swaledale ewe section, the averages were a little down on the year but last year’s sale was exceptional as breeders were still re-stocking after foot-and-mouth.”

Digging deep to give 2600gns for a Bluefaced Leicester gimmer shearling was Lancs breeder Alan Barnes for his Cowden flock. The powerful shearling, which took the breed championship on the day, was by a Nunscleugh ram and consigned by Messrs Lord from their Hewgill flock at North Stainmore, Kirkby Stephen.

Bluefaced Leicester ewes reached 900 for an entry from Ellis Bros, Ilkley, West Yorks.  A good entry of Swaledale females saw the championship taken by a ewe from John Tennant’s flock at Skipton. It realised 1800 to G Sibson, Keswick, Cumbria.

But the day’s top Swaledale price of 2100 came for a gimmer hogg from J and A Blades of Hawes. Swaledale gimmers reached 1600 given by N Brown, Lancaster, for one from the pen of Richard Tiplady, Muker, Swaledale.

Averages: Bluefaced Leicester (26 head) – gimmer hoggs 524; gimmer shearlings 360 and ewes 583. Swaledale (43 head) – gimmer hoggs 485; gimmer shearling 542 and ewes 575 (Hawes Auction Mart).