Hill sheep for Swaledale breeders?

By Jeremy Hunt

SWALEDALE breeders must decide whether to buy hill breeds as a “stop-gap” re-stocking measure or try alternative breeds that are selling for attractive prices.

There is a dearth of Swaledale ewes for re-stocking after the breed lost 50% to foot-and-mouth culls.

Some breeders might decide to wait until the spring, when north country auctioneers hope to stage ewe and lamb sales.

This unconventional trading will be a sure-fire success, but will depend on hill farmers with surplus ewes being able to carry them through the winter.

For Swaledale breeders preferring to secure ewes now, in the hope of taking delivery before spring, there are other options, such as Scottish Blackface ewes – often trading at reasonable prices.

Aileen McFadzean, secretary of the Blackface Sheep Breeders Association, plans to include details of the availability of ewes on the breed societys website.

“If commercial Swaledale flock owners are needing horned sheep to act as a stop-gap I feel we could help them locate stock in Scotland,” said Miss McFadzean.

Auctioneer Matt Stevenson of United Auctions said there were plenty of Blackface ewes available at 10-14 and shearlings at 30-40.

Other hill breeds, like Dalesbred, Lonk and Derbyshire Gritstone, are available but not in large numbers.


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