NEMSA stalwart Richard Hargreaves to judge at Great Yorkshire

Pendle’s Richard Hargreaves, who is judging the North of England Mule classes at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show, remains a dyed-in-the-wool aficionado of Britain’s most popular commercial crossing sheep. He farms with his brother John and 23-year-old son, Bob, the fourth generation of the family to ply their trade across three-quarters of a century at the 250ha (620-acre) Meadow Bank Farm in Barley. 

Over the years, the family has constantly worked to improve the success rate of their pedigree Swaledale and Bluefaced Leicester flocks. Their present-day Meadow Bank Swaledale flock comprises some 400 head pure, plus another 600 for crossing with the Leicester, respective mum and dad to the all-purpose North of England Mule.

Their Barley Bluefaced Leicester flock – there are now some 50 breeding ewes on the ground with further acquisitions of both rams and females from other well-known breeders. Multiple championships have also fallen to Barley Bluefaced Leicesters. Quality breeding remains key to the operation as Richard explains: “We have a good, strong line of BFL tups and have been able to maintain the white and cleaness in them. They have done really well for us and regular buyers actively seek out our Mule gimmer lambs.”

the family never loses sight of the fact that at the end of the day it’s all about catering for and adapting to every conceivable buyer taste and requirement, while constantly seeking to maintain the quality and long-standing appeal of the Mule, a policy still widely and avidly pursued by breed custodians, the North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA), with the Hargreaves family being among its early members when NEMSA was first founded in 1980.

While Richard’s services as an expert show judge across all three breeds are in wide demand, he will be making his debut as an adjudicator in the NEMSA show arena at this year’s Great Yorkshire on the Wednesday, day 2 of the four-day highlight (July 11-14).

He will have plenty of choice across the six show classes for both singles and pairs, from which Richard will then be charged with selecting his overall Mule Breed Champion and recipient of The Jack White Memorial Trophy.

“I will be looking for “Carcase, conformation, a leg in each corner, a lamb with good clean white and presence, good skin and a good fleece,” said Richard.

Back at the farm there is little question that the Hargreaves family remain true and dedicated stalwarts of the three ever-popular breeds, though supplemented of late by small flocks of Dutch Spotted and Valais Blacknose sheep – the Lancashire Valais flock – these in the capable hands of Richard and his wife, Angela, son, Bob and twin sister Katy.