FOR Middleton-in-Teesdale Auction Mart, September and the autumn season brings with it some of the country’s major Swaledale breeding sheep and tup sales, attracted stock from across County Durham, Cumbria, and North Yorkshire

Operated by Harrison & Hetherington, during the next few weeks their mart will host its annual Swaledale gimmer lamb sale, ewe and shearling sale and the annual Swaledale A district ram sale. Across the three sales, over three separate days, thousands of sheep will go under the hammer in front of hundreds of buyers who flock to Middelton-in-Teesdale for these renowned hill breeding sheep sales.

The first sale of the season, on Friday, September 17, is the Swaledale gimmer lamb show and sale, with both breeding and fell gimmer lambs. Expected to attract upwards of 6,000 head of sheep, this is the largest Swaledale sheep sale of its kind in the country.

James Little, auctioneer, said: “This sale is without a doubt one of the highlights in the farming calendar in this part of the country and sees the very best of the Swaledale ewe lambs go under the hammer. The buyers who gather for the sale are looking to buy gimmer lambs from breeders to bring on, either as pure pedigree shearlings, or to cross with Leicester rams.”

The second sale on Monday, September 27 is the annual show and sale of purebred registered Swaledale ewes and shearlings. Featuring between 3,500 and 4,000 sheep, it is again, one of the best and biggest shows and sales of Swaledale ewes in the country.

Mr Little said: “The Swaledale breed over the years has played a major part in the UK sheep industry, for its hardiness and its ability to breed the North of England Mule which now account for 14.4 per cent of the UK flock.

“Middleton sales are well recognised and the sheep from the surrounding farms are hardy sheep, which will go on to do well for buyers from both hill farms and those from lowland farms. This sale promises a magnificent show of Swaledale ewes for buyers to keep pure, or for cross breeding purposes.”

Wednesday, October 13 October will see the third and final sale – the Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association’s A district ram sale of tup lambs, tup shearlings and aged rams. In recent years, the Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association has worked extremely hard alongside H&H to grow and develop these sales and last year last year more than 260 tups went under the hammer. The tup shearlings topped at £17,000 and the lambs topped at £1,600.

“We are seeing breeding sheep sector prices increasing, year on year, and last year Swaledale sales at Middleton were extremely strong,” said Mr Little. “This was a good lambing year, and the sheep should be in top order, so I would anticipate a small rise again this year.”