As the 2019 lambing season gets into full swing, a sheep scanning expert reports that latest results for the versatile North of England Mule undoubtedly demonstrate that it continues to maintain constant high production levels.

Tim Dunn, who runs Breck House Enterprises at Bransdale, near Helmsley, with his wife Sarah and son, James, said: “This season, many sheep flocks have experienced a ten to 25% dip in lambing percentages, but the North of England Mule has clearly coped with conditions better than some, as their percentage has remained stable.”

Sheep scanning is a major part of the family-run business, with 118,000 sheep scanned this season, including 13,000 by son, James, who is in his second scanning season.

North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA) ewe lamb breeders make up a third of the Breck House customer base, along with many more who buy and run Mules.

James, Sarah and Tim Dunn, who were finalists in this year’s Northern Farmer Sheep Farmer of the Year Awards category. In the background are some of their Swaledale ewes, the dam of the all-purpose North of England Mule.Picture by Roy Plumb, Huddersfield, courtesy of Northern Farmer.

Mr Dunn said: “Scanning results for 2017 and 2018 lambings of the North of England Mule ewes were excellent, with very few of all Mule flocks dipping below 200%, while Mule ewe lambs can regularly scan at 130-140%.”

Commenting further on 2019 results, he said: “The hybrid vigour resulting from the stratified system in this country is more apparent than ever with the consistent high production from the North of England Mule.”

The Dunns themselves work two North Yorkshire hill farms – owning 130 acres at Rosy Dike, Bilsdale, and renting a further 230 acres at Breck House from the National Trust. They run flocks of Swaledale sheep, along with a small flock of Blue Faced Leicesters, with performance recording introduced in both.

Fellow North Yorkshire farmer and NEMSA national chairman Kevin Wilson, of Blubberhouses, Harrogate – himself currently busy in the lambing shed – said: “The latest scanning results are extremely positive and again reflect the many and varied attributes of the all-purpose North of England Mule, who is renowned for her hardiness, thriftiness, longevity and prolificacy.

“I am greatly looking forward to the next generation of the North of England Mule. She has thrived over the past 50 years and looks set to make her mark over the next half a century and more, though as breeders we must continually strive to both preserve and perfect the quality and standards of the North of Engalnd Mule on behalf of the shepherds of the UK.”