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Record entry for North of England Mules at Agri Expo

Borderway Agri Expo, the annual autumn highlight and final show of the season for North of England Mule gimmer lamb aficionados, attracted a record entry of 22 pairs, which went under the expert eye of show judge, familiar face Val Brown.

After much deliberation, sheep sector stalwart Val, of Dovecote Barn, near Leyburn, awarded first prize and the NEMSA Perpetual Trophy to Carnforth’s James Robinson and Zac Ward, who were repeating their class-winning success at the 2019 showcase, the last time it was staged.

One of the pair was by Asby Hall M13, from Andrew Brown, near Appleby, this by G1 Smearsett, bred in North Craven by the Booth family, the other by a M3 Asby Hall son from David Lawson’s Gragareth flock in Westhouse, Ingleton.

The victors entered five pairs of lambs, picking up a four-strong awards windfall when also standing third, fourth and sixth in show. They purchase their gimmer lambs from recognised breeders at the annual NEMSA autumn sales, primarily at Kirkby Stephen and Hawes, put them in lamb and sell them on as shearlings the following year, usually at Bentham. James Robinson also runs his own Kaker Mill pedigree Texel flock.

Back in the show, standing runners-up were John Wilson and Janet Dunning, of Settle, with the Elliot family, from Mungrisdale, finishing fifth, Richard Batty, of Kendal, seventh and eighth, and Penrith’s Stephen Ridley in ninth place.

Val – she and her husband, Martin, have been breeding North of England Mules for many years alongside Beltex crosses as butchers’ lambs - had high praise for the quality of the gimmer lambs on show.

She commented: “When judging this highly contested section I was looking for lambs which are correct, good on their legs, with good skin, plenty of bone and obviously they need to be a natural pairing and good for the breed type. I had high hopes for a high calibre of entries - and I wasn’t disappointed.”

Organised by Harrison & Hetherington, and staged on Friday, October 29, at Borderway in Carlisle, Agri Expo again proved a resounding success as it brought down the curtain of the 2021 show season.

NEMSA’s national chairman, Cumbrian sheep farmer Chris Harrison, said: “Agri Expo remains a leading winter showcase in the UK livestock industry and the sheep sector in particular. It is a key event for us and we were delighted to participate once again.

“It always creates keen interest and this year we were extremely pleased to report a record entry to put before judge Val Brown. Warmest thanks to her and to all members who supported the event so enthusiastically. Those ringside commented on the fantastic quality of lambs on show, which were again a real credit to breeders and exhibitors.

“In addition, congratulations must also go to all the winners in the David Allen Stockperson of the Year competition that was held this year at Agri Expo. NEMSA was a very proud sponsor of the competition. Young Farmers are our future.

“Finally many thanks to all our members and buyers who have made it such a memorable season for the all-purpose North of England Mule in so many ways. Roll on 2022!”


Pic caption top: James Robinson, right, and Zac Ward with their Agri Expo-winning pair of North of England Mule gimmer lambs, joined by show judge Val Brown.

Pic caption above: Quality on parade. The NEMSA gimmer lambs show line-up at this year’s Agri Expo.

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