Haig Murray’s RHS debut impact with Valais Blacknose/North of England Mule-crosses. Haig Murray made a colourful impact on the show lines on his recent Royal Highland Show debut in the North of England Mule classes with his Mule gimmer shearlings with Valais-sired lambs at foot. They were certainly attracting attention down all the sheep lines and despite not picking up any tickets, Haig will be pleased with the impact he made.
Haig has worked for Dunbia for 12 years and is now the procurement manager for Scotland. Prior to that he was an auctioneer for United Auctions in Perth, before moving south to Longtown auction, so it’s fair to say he has certainly had plenty of experience with sheep.
He also farms in his own right near Carlisle, with help from his father, family and friends, lambing 150 ewes this year, a mixture of breeds, and finishes several hundred lambs too.
The jewel in the flock’s crown is the Valais Blacknose, which are his pride and joy, and, he says, a great way to escape the daily challenge of the lamb industry. He has had them for two years or so now and as a bit of an experiment crossed some Jacob ewes to the Valais and was amazed at the growth rate of these lambs – and thought it was worth looking into further.
He crossed some North of England Mules last year, after Peter Lee, one of his best suppliers for well over a decade, won the Wigton Mule sale championship last year, and Haig felt it was a chance to say a thank you for all the help and support he has given him over the years.
After getting the sheep home and adding another pen to the load too, he had to decide what to tup them with. Initially, he settled on the Cheviot for ease of lambing, but at the back of his mind was a niggling thought, after seeing the Jacob X lamb – “what about the Valais?”
So, come lambing time, he had ten North of England Mule hoggswith 16 Valais lambs at foot. The last two lambed in mid-May, and they were the pair he had up at the Highland. They might not be the most conventional lambs to look at, but at the end of the day, as Haig well knows, it’s not what they look like, it’s what the hang up like.
The industry needs fast growing, long lean lambs with a good loin, and these lambs are matching the spec needed to a tee.
From what began as a pure experiment two years ago, it’s looking like a winner to Haig and he intends to cross a lot more with the Valais this autumn.
Trust the North of England Mule to take the most modern of fashions in its stride…. it’s the perfect sheep for any tup! And as Haig says about his lambs: “Laugh if you like, but it works for me. Just sometimes it’s good to be different” And they certainly are!