2014-09-08   facebooktwitterrss

Lazonby Mart Prepares for UK’s Biggest One Day Sale of Mule Gimmer Lambs

The beginning of October heralds the UK’s largest one day sale of Mule Gimmer Lambs, when more than 18,000 will go under the hammer at Harrison and Hetherington’s Lazonby Auction Mart.

The famous Alston Moor Sale takes place this year on Wednesday October 1, and trade is expected to be brisk after a strong season for breeding sheep sales and a steady increase in prices for younger ewes. The current higher prices for cull ewes is also fuelling a demand for breeding sheep.

Lazonby Mart

© Jennifer Mackenzie

The Mule has stood the test of time and is popular with lowland farmers across the UK who aim to produce a good commercial prime lamb. Mules are excellent mothers, and because they are out of the Swaledale, they are hardy, relatively easy to keep sheep.

H&H auctioneer James Little said:
“The Alston Moor Sale is an important date in the sheep farming calendar, for the Mule breed and for the local economy here in Cumbria.

“It attracts buyers from all over the UK from Caithness to Cambridge, Wales, Cornwall and East Anglia. We see a massive number of buyers, many of whom treat it as a short break and extend their stay, so it’s a really important event for Lazonby.”

The one-day sale takes a huge amount of time and effort to organise and staff at Lazonby Mart prepare for the Alston Moor Sales throughout the summer months.

Logistically, sufficient penning for nearly 18,000 lambs has to be arranged, as well as space to accommodate around 200 buyers and 150-200 vendors.

The majority of the lambs being auctioned come from the Alston Moor area, the Lake District and the Pennine Dales, which is renowned for the quality of the Mule sheep these areas produce.

Buyers will be able to see some of high class lambs available in a special show the night before the sale, organised by the North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA). Lambs will be shown in pens of 10 and judged by Brian Ridsdale from Penrith, Cumbria Richard Evans from Towcester, Northants and referee Alan Walton from Haltwhistle, Northumberland.

Paul Staley, chairman of NEMSA’s Lazonby branch, farms at Broadmea, Slaggyford, and will be selling gimmer lambs in the Alston Moor Sale.

He said: “Mules are a proven quality lamb, they are available at this sale in high numbers, from genuine hill farms around Alston Moor. Another advantage is that they mature quickly so are strong enough to breed in the first season.

“The Mule is a breed which will stand anyone in good stead both in the short, medium and long terms and is suitable for all farming systems. They are highly regarded because the lambs are mainly off high ground, and they have gained a reputation of doing well when they go to other parts of the country.”

Mr Staley builds relationships with buyers throughout the year and the Alston Moor Sale is the venue where they meet up.

He added: “This has been a good spring and summer and the sheep are in tremendous condition. This is our main sales and gives us the opportunity to meet existing customers.”

Auctioneer James Little is looking forward to a busy day and predicts a strong trade.
“The market appears optimistic and this is a tremendous sale for purchasers looking for hardy, high quality lambs,” he said.


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