Members of the North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA) are looking forward with great anticipation to their annual high profile ewe lamb shows and sales, which begin next month at Skipton Auction Mart in North Yorkshire and are again expected to attract buyers from the length and breadth of the country.

The opening NEMSA showcase on Tuesday, September 5, remains one of the leading fixtures of its kind in the North of England and the first major Mule lamb sale of the year. The second sale takes place a fortnight later on Tuesday, September 19, followed by the annual open prize show and sale on Tuesday, October 3.

The two September highlights both feature sponsored show classes for pens of tens and 20s, plus cash prizes from CCM Auctions for the day’s leading flock averages. They constantly attract quality sheep from NEMSA members right across the North of England. In 2016, over 20,000 Mules were successfully sold across all three sales.

In turn, buyers from near and far seeking to source first-class Mule gimmer lambs, primarily for breeding, are regularly seen at the Skipton ringside, including long distance travellers. All rate the trip well worthwhile and many will be returning for the 2017 renewals, among them some familiar faces from the south-west.

Heading north once again is Ross Sizmur, of Okehampton in Devon, who attended last year’s opening NEMSA highlight for the first time and took home both the champion pens of tens and 20s. Both came from renowned Mule breeders, WA&A Booth, who run the highly regarded Smearsett flock above Settle in North Craven.

Mr Sizmur describes himself as a dyed-in-the-wool North of England Mule aficionado, keeping up to 1,500 ewe lambs at any one time and selling them on at every stage of their development. He said the breed was ideally suited to his rich, fertile lowland pastures.

Another buyer from North Devon who has been sourcing NEMSA lambs at Skipton for around a decade is Stuart Rogers, from Landkey, near Barnstaple – he takes home some150 annually and runs a flock of 700 breeding ewes. “They suit my requirements to a tee. We put them to our Suffolk rams, as we want early suckled lambs for growing on. They are easy to manage and farm, and good to handle,” he said.

NEMSA Skipton branch chairman Neil Heseltine, of Malham, said: “Our members continue to consign excellent turnouts of quality lambs and we are expecting more of the same this year – and robust trade again too, hopefully.”

CCM Auctions’ general manager Jeremy Eaton said: “The opening NEMSA sale at Skipton is the highlight and culmination of a year’s work on hill farms in the north of England. The 2018 crop will already be in the planning stages by this year’s sale and many breeders will know how their 2016 lambs have fared on lowland farms or at the early breeding sheep sales this year.

“The importance of the fixture should not be underestimated in terms of its importance to hill farms and sheep farming- Buyers can be assured of another high quality entry.”

An evening supper will be provided after the opening fixture from 8pm onwards at nearby Keelham Farm Shop.