WHILE the nation continues to present a brave face during Covid-19, hundreds of sheep farmers and their families UK-wide have been busy lambing in splendid self-isolation in what many have long termed their annual lockdown period!

There is little doubt that the recent prolonged dry and sunny weather has proved of great benefit to the 2020 lambing season, with plenty of fit and healthy lambs on the ground.

Another boost is the welcome news that auction marts across the country, Skipton among them, have now been allowed to resume sales of ewes with lambs at foot, albeit still under strictly controlled conditions governing both vendors and buyers.

In common with other breed societies, feedback about the latest lambing time from members of the North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA) is upbeat.

National chairman Chris Harrison, who farms in Cumbria near Alston, described lambing as “probably the best in my living memory.” He noted: “There should be an abundance of lambs this autumn for our high profile annual gimmer lamb sale season.”

There was a similar story from Threshfield’s Frank Kitching, chairman of NEMSA’s Skipton branch. He said: “Lambing has gone really well. The weather has been fantastic, the sheep are fit and we have a good crop of lambs.”

NEMSA stages its annual high profile ewe lamb fixtures at northern auction marts every autumn. All parties are hoping they will again be able to go ahead this year, at least in some form or other, in order to meet continuing supply and demand countrywide. The two main breed highlights at Skipton Auction Mart are scheduled for Tuesdays, September 8 and 22.

Meanwhile, in a different field – one on the outskirts of Skipton in fact - our picture shows the early lambing pedigree Jacob sheep from the Haworth family’s Hurrsdale flock. The ewes lambed indoors during January and have been out at grass for over a month now.

Those with the best pedigree are kept for breeding within the flock, with further quality stock sold to other pedigree breeders, some through the Northern Area Jacob Sheep Breeders annual show and sale at Skipton Auction Mart.

Gavin Haworth and his wife Becky – they sent out the breed champion at last year’s Great Yorkshire Show – organise the local breed highlight, with the 45th fixture due to take place this year on Saturday, September 5, current restrictions permitting.

.The Jacob is a dual-purpose horned sheep - either two or four-horned - providing tasty sweet meat and high quality wool. The Haworths themselves supply prime quality meat to a number of local restaurants, which will resume when the hospitality sector lockdown is lifted. Want to know more - find them at Hurrsdale Pedigree Jacobs on Facebook.