TWO Craven framers have featured in a North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA) article to speak of how the breed fits in with their farming practices.

NEMSA has taken its use of social media to new heights with both live action video and drone footage in a series of breed-promoting features. With the help of Carlisle-based Herd’s Media, NEMSA has been working closely throughout the summer with the Suffolk and Texel Sheep Societies, along with Swaledale Sheepbreeders Association to highlight various scenarios involving best use and best practice involving their individual breeds. Two Craven farming families feature prominently in the Texel Society link-up, notably their modern approach to farming methods by weighing their lambs regularly to become more efficient, prime examples of a new generation of farmers embracing the latest technology to fulfil the maximum potential of their NEMSA Mules.

The Stockdale family, of Oat Croft Farm, Burnsall, who operate a total stratified system under one roof, breed the majority of their own Swaledales, from which they produce a crop of North of England Mules annually, some kept for replacements, others sold locally through CCM Skipton and Pateley Bridge Auction Marts. Mule ewes are crossed with the Texel, with first-cross gimmers going to the tup as hoggs, prior to sale in May. The video highlights how the family has, over the past three years, effectively maintained detailed records in a bid to get the most efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly flock possible.

Indeed, working very closely with the environment is key to the entire enterprise, which can be held up as a shining example of the stratified system working well on a modern-day farm, with the family’s commitment to the breed further cemented through their hands-on and long-time involvement with the Mule show classes at their local Kilnsey Show.

Angus Dean, who farms with his family at Toft House, Threshfield, shines the spotlight on the versatility of the North of England Mule and how it is fully integrated into a farming model that also includes dairy cattle and a farm contracting business. The Deans predominantly use Texel tups on their Mules and Angus discusses how using this terminal sire adds value to their stock through a mainly grass-fed system.

These two case studies were conducted by NEMSA secretary Linda Allan, who farms with her own family in Kilvington, Carnforth. The Association’s long-time sponsor Shearwell Data has also supported the pioneering initiative.

All the videos can be viewed on NEMSA’s Facebook pages and on YouTube.