H&H Prepares for Major Autumn Sheep Sales
Some of the best breeding sheep in the UK will be going under the hammer at Harrison & Hetherington’s renowned autumn sales, which start from late July through to November.
Between the end of August and the end of October Harrison and Hetherington will sell in the region of 150,000 head of store and breeding sheep. The largest sheep sales in the country are expected to attract buyers from across the UK and occasionally Europe, as breeders descend to buy the finest pedigree and commercial ewes and rams for their flocks.
The major autumn sales programme begins with the opening sale of breeding sheep for early lamb production on Monday 28 July. The society show and sale of Zwartbles sheep, the biggest Zwartbles sale in the UK and the Society and Northern Counties Suffolk sheep sale along with the August Fair sale of Commercial Breeding sheep takes place on Friday 8 August in Carlisle.
Another of the highlights of these seasonal sales takes place on August 14 and 15, the biggest show and sale of Beltex sheep in the country.
H&H, operate marts at Carlisle, Kirkby Stephen, Lazonby and Broughton-in-Furness in Cumbria; Middleton-in-Teesdale in County Durham; Lockerbie and Newcastleton in the Borders.
They sell more than 18 breeds of sheep, which all have their own strong following. The main pedigree sales are for Beltex, Texel, Suffolk, Cheviots, Bluefaced Leicesters, Lleyns Zwartbles, Berrichon, Charollais, Bleu de Maine and Rouges.
Commenting in advance of the sales Scott Donaldson Sales Director for Harrison and Hetherington said: “The early sale of commercial breeding sheep is the one that people wait in anticipation for; it sets the benchmark for values for the rest of the season.”
“We are the foremost pedigree auctioneers in the country and conduct some of the leading commercial sheep sales. This year we have had a far better spring and sheep have done well this summer. Producers have sold their lambs earlier than last year with less overhead and feed costs.”
“With the losses during lambing last year, we are anticipating farmers will be looking to restock at this season’s sales to bring numbers back up to optimum levels on their farms. We have had a tremendous growing season resulting in plenty of fodder being produced on farms to keep livestock through the winter”
“Harrison and Hetherington have a team of 12 auctioneers, and here three of their well established auctioneers provide an update from their marts and breeds specialism”
Auctioneer James Little, will be closely involved with the Beltex and Bluefaced Leicester sales. James 27, who farms with his father near Wigton, and has worked for Harrison and Hetherington since he left school, breeds pedigree Beltex and last year sold his own homebred ram which won the overall championship at this year’s Highland Show.
He said: “We will be selling an entry of just over 1,200 Beltex at Carlisle. The breed has become hugely popular in recent years, much of which can be attributed to prime lamb prices which command a premium in the prime ring.
“This is because the killing out percentage and quality of carcass make them an ideal lamb for the export market – often to their home land of Belgium. On a commercial ewe, the Beltex produces a small easy to lamb birth, which reaches a target export weight”
James will also be involved with the registered Bluefaced Leicester sales at both Carlisle and Lazonby.
James said: “The Bluefaced Leicester is sought after to cross with the Swaledale to produce a Mule lamb. The mule has stood the test of time and is popular with lowland farmers across the UK who wants to produce a good commercial prime lamb. Mules are excellent mothers, and being out of the Swaledale makes them hardy and relatively easy care.”
Lazonby is renowned for its Alston Moor Sale; where in the region of 20,000 lambs will pass through the ring in one day – generally the first Wednesday in October.
The pedigree Texel sales at Borderway and the North Country Cheviot sales at Lockerbie will involve auctioneer Grant Anderson 27, who has been with Harrison and Hetherington for seven years. He farms with his family near Carrutherstown in Dumfries and has a flock of pedigree Beltex.
Grant said: “The main North Country Cheviot sale at the start of September will see around 4,500 sheep in the ring including 450 rams.
“The Cheviots are synonymous with this part of the country. They are real Borders sheep and the sale regularly attracts large numbers of buyers from the North of Scotland and Wales.
“Cheviots are coming back into fashion because they produce very good quality lambs, they are a hardy breed and the ewes tend to live longer and produce more lambs than other hill breeds.”
He will also be in closely involved in selling Pedigree Texels in Carlisle. The two main sales are held on behalf of the Solway and Tyne Texel Breeders Club, and they sell in the region of 1300 sheep. He said: “Prime lambs off a Texel sire regularly top the market because of the high killing out percentages and the overall good quality carcass.
“On the female side, Texels are very popular especially with large sheep producers because they have high milk yields; they are good mothers and are easy to lamb.
At Kirkby Stephen Mart, Mark Richardson will be looking after the autumn Mule and Swaledale sales. He will also be auctioneering alongside James at the Alston Moor Sale at Lazonby. Mark, 29, farms just four miles from the mart and produces North of England Mules.
He said: “We will be selling between 10,000 and 12,000 gimmer lambs at the main Mule sale at Kirkby Stephen on Friday 12th September”
The main sales for Swaledales take place in Kirkby Stephen and Middleton-in-Teesdale in September and October and are the UK’s major events for draft ewes, breeding rams and ewe lambs and bidding is expected to be competitive this year.
“As a result of the 2013 lambing there may be a shortage of numbers so we expect the stock to be very much in demand at these sales” said Mark