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North of England Mule sheep aficionados prepare for keynote annual autumn sales season

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

The high profile annual North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA) autumn sale season is fast approaching and multipe breeders across the region are busy preparing their ewes and lambs to ensure that they once again arrive at the sales in tip-top condition.

They are also looking forward to once more welcoming droves of end-users from across the country, who are again preparing for their much anticipated annual exodus north to source yearly consignments of the all-purpose North of England Mule, notably crops of quality ewe lambs.

Sales of North of England Mule ewes and shearlings are already underway and run right through to the third week in October, while keynote gimmer lamb sales begin as usual with the traditional pipeopener at Hexham on Friday, September 3 and continue until the end of month with the big Lazonby sale on Wednesday, September 29, when up to 20,000 ewe lambs will again go under the hammer.

Other northern auction marts also staging official NEMSA ewe lamb shows and sales are Skipton, Kirkby Stephen, Kendal, Hawes – up to 30,000 lambs will again be on offer at this keynote two-day fixture on September 13 & 14 – Middleton-in-Teesdale, Barnard Castle, Leyburn, Tow Law (at Hexham) and St John’s Chapel.

Further ewe lamb sales are also staged at Bentham, Longtown, Lancaster, Wigton, Carlisle, Penrith and Cockermouth, with dates and potential numbers for all sales of North of England Mules – ewes, shearlings and ewe lambs – posted on the Association website at

Provenance and full traceability are again assured, with all member ewe lambs bearing the grey Association eartag which is so easily recognisable and synonymous with the North of England Mule, the Association’s logo M and the individual member’s flock number.

Liitle wonder then that the North of England Mule – famed for her hardiness, thriftiness, longevity, prolificacy, mothering attributes and milkiness - not only remains Britain’s most prolific sheep breed in terms of numbers, but is also the country’s most popular commercial sheep for crossing purposes.

And as a growing number of end-users across the UK will readily attest she remains ideally suited to local breeding conditions, enabling both her and her offspring to thrive and grow.

In fact, many regular buyers have become old friends and regard their annual pilgrimage north as an ideal opportunity not only to replenish stock, but also meet up, renew acquantainces and chew the cud with breeders.

NEMSA’s national chairman, Cumbrian sheep farmer Chris Harrison, enthused: “The weather has been kind and not only do prospects look extremely promising for our 2021 autumn sales season, but after a torrid 2020, with its many restrictions due to the pandemic we are, thankfully also returning to near normality, with renewed confidence and optimism.

“The northern auction marts who staged our 2020 sales coped remarkably well under extremely difficult circumstances and we cannot thank them enough. But the stage is now set for 2021 and our legions of NEMSA breeders are again carefully and expertly preparing their lambs for the autumn highlights, so both regular and potential new buyers can rest assured that they will arrive not only in significant numbers, but also in peak condition.

“A very warm welcome again awaits for buyers from all parts of the country. The key to a good year is a good crop of lambs and, as our many end-users repeatedly tell us, the North of England Mule delivers on all fronts.

She has clearly earned her right to be called the most popular lowland ewe in Britain and the original easy care sheep and we are extremely proud that many describe our beloved North of England Mule as the true queen of commercial lowland breeding sheep.

“Her popularity has never waned – indeed, after some sheep producers possibly looking to alternative breeds of sheep, the North of England Mule has regained her crown as possibly the most resilient, long-standing and prolific breeding sheep in the UK – and continues to wear it with pride.

“Having said that, we as breeders are keenly aware that we must never rest on our laurels, but must always strive tooth and nail to maintain, even improve our standards and the quality of our sheep for the shepherds of the UK – our current and future buyers and breeders.”

New NEMSA secretary Linda Allan – she and her family farm in South Cumbria’s Lune Valley, and, yes, they keep Mules! – says she is looking forward with great interest and enthusiasm to her first autumn sale season. In fact, she’s planning to be at all the main sales to meet and greet and better get to know both breeders and end-users. Linda can be contacted on 07896 992598 or email

Shearwell Data continues to be NEMSA’s keynote sponsor, supplemented earlier this year by Eden Farm Supplies.


Pictured, clockwise from top left:

Gimmer lambs. Ring at Tow Law sale (staged at Hexham Auction Mart). Pens at CCM Skipton Auction Mart. Pens at Lazonby Auction Mart.

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