An across-the-board increase in trade on the year has been reported by North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA).

This follows the keynote 2023 Mule gimmer lamb sales season at northern auction marts this autumn.

However, there has been a decrease of 5-10 per cent in overall sale entries compared to last year.

Reasons behind this, say NEMSA, could range from climate issues to political problems.

The report of this year’s ewe lamb sales indicates a week-on-week improvement in trade throughout the season.

However, some markets struggled to maintain numbers, with most reporting that more lambs were needed to meet the demand.

This could potentially have been sold to vendors’ advantage.

Two potential reasons for the decline in numbers includes poor scans following last year’s drought, along with terrible weather during lambing time suffered by many farmers in the North of England.

NEMSA secretary Linda Allan said: "While the drought clearly stunted the growth of many lambs another reason was, perhaps, breeders’ unwillingness to invest money into feed with continuing uncertainties in the farming climate.

“For many vendors, though, it was running lambs that proved the dearest, while it was also reassuring to hear reports of new buyers coming forward from across the country. ‘Grass but no Brass’ was perhaps our initial worry, but an increase in trade throughout the sales season proved this wrong.

“Southern buyers maybe chose not the stock to their usual levels last year due to the drought, which went well into September, but happily they were back again in force this year, flocking north to plug the deficit by building up numbers once more.

“As ever, most auctions saw a market for the shrewd buyer, many purchasers reporting that their lamb averages were very similar or even down on the year, particularly at the earlier sales.

"In an increasing market it become very hard to forecast when a buyer should bite the bullet and hindsight is great thing, but many lambs bought early on will now be looking very cheap. Tupping lambs, especially, looked profitable throughout the season if farmers are willing to lamb.”