A NORTH Tyne farmer has been chosen to judge one of the most highly contested classes at one of the leading winter livestock events in Britain.

Mule sheep breeder Andrew Hunter, who farms at The Steel and Carrick near Bellingham, is set to judge the Mule Gimmer Lambs class at this year’s Carlisle Borderway Agri-Expo in November.

Andrew runs a flock of 1,500 ewes of which 800 are pure Blackface and 700 of which are crossed with the Bluefaced Leicester. The remainder of his flock are with a mule and Bluefaced Leicester cross.

In the past three years, Andrew has has topped the North of England Mule Sheep Association sales twice.

No stranger to judging, Andrew was a regular judge at shows across the North of England, but this was the largest event he will have judged to date.

“It really is a fantastic honour to be invited to judge at such a prestigious event,” he said. “The calibre of entries I know will be very high, so it will be a challenging task.

“The market for mule sheep is strong and I believe that this is because it is a prolific breed with great motherly traits. In terms of what I will be looking for, it is lambs with good coats, bonny markings and, of course, they will need to be structurally correct for the breed type.

“I am looking forward to what I know will be a fantastic showcase of stock.”

David Pritchard, joint managing director of event organisers Harrison & Hetherington said: “Andrew is a highly respected breeder who I know will make a tremendous job of judging this very important section of the event.”