WHILE the country struggles to cope with the impact of Covid-19, sheep farmers are experiencing one of the best ever lambing seasons.

The recent prolonged dry and sunny weather has proved beneficial to the lambing season with plenty of fit and healthy lambs on the ground.

They have also been boosted by news that auction marts across the country have now been allowed to resume breeding sheep sales of ewes with lambs at foot, albeit still under strictly controlled conditions governing both vendors and buyers alike.

The news has been welcomed by members of the North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA).

Alston farmer Chris Harrison, the national chairman of the association, described this year’s lambing the season as the best he has known.

Living at 1,200ft above sea level, the family doesn’t start lambing Swaledales until April, first to the Bluefaced Leicester to produce North of England Mules, then ewes to the Swaledale tups a week later. At the end of April there were around 50 of the 650-strong Swaledale ewe flock still to lamb.

Third generation Mule breeder Mr Harrison, now joined by the fourth generation in his son Richard, said: “The ewes were in excellent condition and scanned at 150 per cent, so I fully expect there will be an abundance of lambs this autumn for our high profile annual gimmer lamb sale season.

“Let’s hope there will be plenty of buyers with plenty of grass too - always assuming and, of course, hoping there will be some sort of normality by then.”

There was a similar story from NEMSA’s vice-chairman Jonathan Hodgson, who farms at High Borrans, Windermere.

He said: “Lambing is going really well. The weather has been fantastic, the sheep are fit and we have a good crop of lambs.”