THE North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA) is again looking forward to its annual sale highlights at northern auction marts this autumn.

While it is still uncertain if marts will be allowed to stage livestock shows because of Covid-19 restrictions, all remain confident that their high profile NEMSA sales will go ahead and are urging both vendors and buyers to carry on making the usual preparations.

Users from all parts of the UK are again expected to flock up country to source yearly consignments of the all-purpose North of England Mule, primarily their annual crops of ewe lambs. It’s also another welcome opportunity to meet up with well-known Mule breeders, many of whom have become firm friends over the years.

In turn, all marts are keen to assure Mule buyers both old and new that they can attend sales confident in the knowledge that all possible measures have been taken to ensure their all-important health and safety. In fact, many have put in place additional bolt-on facilities that not only significantly build on social distancing measures already in place, but more effectively accommodate all buyers in a safe and secure environment.

The good news for potential buyers of the all-purpose North of England Mule is that the 2020 lambing season has proved one of the best on record. NEMSA’s national chairman Chris Harrison, who farms near Alston, described lambing as “probably the best in my living memory,” a sentiment shared by other North of England Mule breeders. He said: “The superb weather earlier in the year proved of great benefit to the 2020 lambing season, resulting in an abundance of fit and healthy lambs on the ground, which can only augur well for our high profile forthcoming annual gimmer lamb sale season.NEMSA breeders are now preparing their lambs for the autumn highlights and buyers can rest assured that they will arrive at this year’s sales not only in significant numbers, but also in peak condition.

“We are again looking forward to welcoming both regular and potential new buyers – and many old friends - from all parts of the country, for whom the versatile North of England Mule continues to be ideally suited to local breeding conditions.”

Buyers, in turn, require little persuasion to return and little convincing about the all-round attributes of the North of England Mule, which not only remains Britain’s most prolific sheep breed in terms of numbers, but also the country’s most popular commercial sheep for crossing purposes.Indeed, the Mule ewe is renowned for her prolificacy, mothering ability and milkiness, for maintaining constant high production levels, along with her hardiness, thriftiness and longevity – her ability to cope with all types of terrain and weather.