The Texel sheep originates from the island of Texel off the Dutch North-Sea coast. Crossed with Lincoln, Leicester and Wensleydales in the late 19th century the small native Texel breed developed into a large and prolific sheep which became popular for its well fleshed but lean carcass.
First importations came from France in the early seventies, followed by direct imports from Holland at the end of that decade.
There are many different types of Texel across Europe and other continents, each developed to perform in their specific environment. The British Texel is a medium sized sheep with a long rectangular body, well proportioned with a level back and medium bone structure. The Texel’s outstanding qualities are its pronounced muscling and long loin coupled with the unique leanness inherited from the original Texel sheep.
In pedigree terms the British Texel’s head should be covered with fine white hair, the nose preferably black with the occasional black spots on ears or eyelids.The body must be well proportioned with strong loins, a solid square stance and round well-developed gigots. The fleece has a high loft with a staple of medium length and is highly crinkled. Fibres are classed as medium, 34 microns and less.
The Texel is hardy, tough and docile. Ewes are frugal and proven to excel in grass-based rearing systems. Lambs are famously vigorous at birth with a great will to survive. The breed is moderately prolific with 1.7 lambs per ewe.
Because of the breed’s adaptability and excellent carcase quality, which it passes on to first cross progeny, Texel rams have become the UK producer’s preferred choice of Terminal Sire, in particular the increasing number of recorded rams, which deliver reliable performance in all environments. Changes in the growth potential of Texel sheep have been immense since the initial imports during the seventies enhancing both the efficiency and profitability of carcase production from Texel sired lambs.
The Texel breed has a structured Performance Recording System, an on-line flock book is available which can be viewed from the Society website.