Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Hexham Mart. Draft ewe sale day.

Shep wouldn't miss the ewe sale at Hexham Mart for love nor money. Breeding sales are always interesting, by looking at the ewes, gimmers and ewe lambs present you can get a good idea of what the stock at home is like. The farmers who take their sheep to Hexham take a great deal of pride in their stock and it is always a great pleasure to see sheep well turned out for the job. When the marts such as Bellingham and Rothbury closed down Hexham went to the effort of building a new ring, a ring dedicated for the sale of breeding sheep, a ring which shows sheep off to the best of its abilities.

The ewe sale was held on 29th September with predominantely blackfaced and swaledale breeding sheep forward, with other classes for cheviots and then in bye breeds such as mule, texel and suffolk crosses. Sheep of all ages are sold. Draft ewes, gimmers and ewe lambs being what most folk are looking for.
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Fleehope 5 year old draft ewes which made £120
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Emblehope 5 & 6 year old scotch draft ewes sold for £82
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The champion pen of 20 Hexham type 6 year old draft ewes from Townfoot which made £138

Draft ewes were in demand on the day. They were a roaring trade. These are ewes which are retiring off the hill to spend a year or two on better pastures and probably breeding mule ewe lambs. Due to the fact that mule ewe lambs have been realising high prices there was confidence and money to be spent on buying in the next generation of ewes to be crossed to the Leicester. Although having said that the tup breeding men were also buying drafts off other tup breeding men, a route towards getting different genetics for breeding your own pure sheep.
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Swaledale ewes were also in demand, although the buyers seemed to be sleeping when the first few pens entered the ring they soon woke up and saw the Swales making decent money.
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Although a rarer sight these days there are still some hill farms able to enter the ring with a decent drove of sheep, these sheep off Low Bleakhope realised a top price of £100 although the top price of the day for 5 year old draft ewes was for the prize pen from Wolfhills which made £120 per head.

I thought the gimmers were probably a selective trade, they sold well but after my forays the day previous I was expecting greater things. Having said that, a pen from Sewingshields made £240 which wouldn't have been too disapointing for the Murrays I don't think.
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The prizewinning pen of gimmers from Closehead sold for £180
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Ewe lambs were also a good trade with these from Brieredge realising £112

Once again the sun shone, hot weather, almost a shame to be couped up at a mart but come hail or shine Shep wouldn't like to miss the ewe sale day at Hexham, I might not have got the tan topped up but I did enjoy my day.

I have to take my hat off to the mart staff. The elderly sheep keeper in Tarset was selling a number of sheep that day, they were gathered in the gloom at 6.30am, a very patient and kind wagon driver collected them at 7.30am and to the mart they headed. The gimmers were held seperate in the wagon but the other three groups of sheep were mixed in another compartment. On reaching the mart it was found that a lad on the unloading docks had got his catalogue out, worked out what sheep were entered where and caught them all out and penned them up in their correct pens. A great start to the morning.

As the sheep neared the ring there were other mart staff on hand to ensure the elderly sheep keeper safely found a way into the ring to sell her sheep, they showed great consideration and kindness towards her. The auctioneers also went out of their way to ensure her sheep realised a good price. The personal touch, one which may not have been realised by the elderly lady herself, but was appreciated by those assisting her on the day. Having traded with the mart company for the duration of her lifetime it just shows that some things do count.