A NEW promotional body has been set up to bring together the marketing of all types of Mule sheep.

The Mule Group aims to promote the 'adaptability, profitability and ideal mothering characteristics' of females from each of the five main Mule Societies – Scotch Mules, North of England Mules, Welsh Mules, Cheviot Mules and Highland Mules.

While each society has always worked as an individual association and will continue to do so, there is a commonality between them in that they all share the same sire in the Bluefaced Leicester – and the Bluefaced Leicester Association is supporting the new group to promote the overall message that Mules are the UK's 'Number One commercial breeding female' and ensure marketing of the cross-breds reaches its full potential.

It is estimated that 400,000 mule females are sold annually, with enough breeders involved to give the Mule Group a combined membership of 3500.

Newly appointed chairman of the group, Derek Hall, of the Firth flock, Penicuik, is confident the new initiative will increase demand for both the females and the Bluefaced Leicester breed.

“It is important we challenge our competitors and the only way we can do that is to join forces under the one umbrella to promote the attributes of Mules," said Mr Hall. "There is variation in the different types of Mules, however, their key traits of hybrid vigour and mothering ability are all similar.

“The message we want to push is that the Mule is adaptable and ultimately ensures profitability to any flock," he said. “The Mule is the key link in the sheep industry that brings the hills and uplands, right down to the lowlands together. It is now our challenge to cooperate with each other to ensure the best marketing of the mighty Mule!"

According to Mr Hall, the hybrid vigour of the Mule produces a breeding female that is hardier, with 'amazing' mothering abilities, that can perform well in many different systems.

“The hybrid vigour comes from the uniqueness of the Bluefaced Leicester, which is genetically, a different breed of sheep to all others, consequently, the genetics from the Blue provide a higher level of hybrid vigour than any other breed," he asserted. "This in turn ensures a hardy cross-bred female with attributes that outperform that of any other breed or cross."

“I am really excited to see where The Mule Group takes us because there is so much room to develop and expand the breeding potential of the Mule and everyone seems to be up for the challenge. Whatever the question, the answer is the Mule!"