3 October 2016 – Gimmer lambs

By Frances Graham

Well, it has finally come upon us that a week last Saturday was the start of a busy month, as the breeding sales started. The first day was on the 17 September at Pateley Bridge Auction Mart. This is the first Gimmer lamb day and getting everything ready is a very time consuming job. We sell the Dales-Mule Gimmer lambs here and we also sold 2 pens of Masham Gimmers. The Dales-Mule is out of a Dalesbred ewe, crossed by a Blue Faced leister ram. The Masham lambs are out of Dalesbred ewes crossed by a Teeswater ram. The Dales-Mule have become very popular over the past couple of years, whereas before that Masham were more popular and they are used to produce fat lamb wool. However, the most popular breed remains the North of England Mule which are out of Swaledale ewes. But Dales Mules are becoming increasingly popular because they are a stronger than the North of England Mule and have slightly more wool which – in winter – can be what keeps them alive!

A farmer shearing a sheepGetting the lambs ready for the sale takes a lot of time, as they have to be looking the best for that day in the auction and we try to get the best price for them. One of the jobs to do before they go to the auction is to colour them. This never seems to go just as well as we would like it to. They are dipped in a tub in a solution to colour the wool, but they don’t want to be too dark and they don’t want to be white as snowflakes. What usually happens is we are happy with how they look and then it rains quite badly and the next morning they are white again, so we are back to where we started!

A few indoor pens full of sheepAlso, before we sell them we have to clip them their necks and bellies. This makes them look longer in the leg and neck, and making them look their best is very important. My dad and brother clipped them and I caught the lambs and tipped them up for them to be clipped. We only have to do this for the Dales Mules. I do prefer the Mashams as there is a lot less work involved with them, but we have to breed what people want. The day before the sale we sorted the biggest and best lambs out to take to the auction. All the lambs are individually tagged and are marked into which pen they belong in and then they are all washed to make them look the smartest that they can be for that time in the auction ring. We do all this the day before the sale, so that we weren’t rushing around with them on the morning of the sale.

At the auction, we were soon into the ring once they had finished judging and they didn’t do too badly. The two pens of Mashams did very well, as they made £84 each in the first pen and £74 each in the second pen. The Dales-Mules first pen did make more, but the last pen only made £66 each so my Dad was disappointed but my Grandad said he was happy with what the lambs had made.