As I sit to write my first report as Chairman it's still raining! In what has been a very poor year for man and beast, climate wise, one of the highlights for me as Chairman of NEMSA has been the demand and resulting good trade for mule sheep. We have seen a level trade through all of the sale centres which is great encouragement to all of the breeders throughout the North of England.
It is noticeable as I have attended various sales and sheep events, the number of young people involved in both the breeding and farming of mule sheep. In this day of an ever ageing farming community, this is very encouraging for the future. These young breeders should be helped as much as possible as they are the future of NEMSA. We (my wife comes as part of the package) have tried to get to as many of the 'Sheep Events' as possible this year. Wherever I have been the comments from the buyers of mule sheep have been very encouraging. Many have tried other breeds and crosses but were returning to the ever reliable MULE, for her ease of management and ability to produce two very saleable prime lambs with very little effort, even in a year like this. I have spoken to a number of people with very large flocks of 2000-3000 head, all of which said they would not like to run these numbers with any other breed of sheep - praise indeed!
I would like to thank everyone who has supplied stock to go on the NEMSA stand, whether they are members or farmers who run flocks of mule sheep, it is greatly appreciated. Although we are actively updating and renewing the stand all the time, I think the most important way of attracting interest to the stand is by having quality, eye-catching animals and progeny for all to admire. Thanks must also go to all branch Chairmen and committee members for their hard work in promoting and marketing the North of England Mule and especially our enthusiastic and dilligent secretary, Marion.
The 'Hogg and lamb' trade in the spring started the year off very well for the North of England Mule. Even with the buoyant gimmer lamb trade in the autumn of 2011, with a little effort, these young breeding females left a very good margin. Following on from this the Yearling/Shearling trade was very acceptable with a good show of mule sheep at Thame in early August..With a late start at 5p.m, after all other breeds had been through the ring, it was most satisfying to see a ring full of buyers and a good, sound trade with NEMSA tagged sheep being sold at a premium. This set a benchmark for the sales that followed.
The fluctuations of the prime lamb market in the final quarter of 2012- resulting from a lack of money in Europe and the glut of lambs due to the slower finishing weather conditions have affected confidence in the sheep industry. Hopefully this will be restored in the coming year and we will see the prime lamb market improve to a more profitable level.