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National Sale Ballots now available

The ballots for the Society's four National Sales at Lanark, Welshpool, Worcester and Ballymena are now available to download from the Sales page of the website under the relevant section for each sale. 

Final entries for each of the respective sales must be with the Society by the following dates. For the Scottish National Sale, Lanark, entries must be submitted by 19th July, for the Welsh National, Welshpool, entries must be in by 21st July, for the English National, Worcester, entries need to be received by 24th July and for the Northern Irish National, Ballymena, entries should be with the Society office by 2nd August.

Anyone with a query on the ballots should contact the Society office immediately.

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Recorded rams wanted for R&D projects

Performance recorded Texel rams are required for use as service sires in the Society’s genomic research projects which are investigating hard to measure health and meat quality traits.

Over the next two breeding seasons a minimum of 80 sires are required, explains Texel Sheep Society R&D project manager Ed Smith. “A minimum of 45 are needed this year and the Society would prefer to buy a mix of ram lambs and shearlings, although frozen semen may be considered if there are insufficient ram nominations.

“To be eligible for nomination rams must be performance recorded, with full weight records submitted and ultrasound and CT scanning having been done as lambs.

“Naturally rams must also be physically sound and capable of natural service. They should also be free from caseous lymphadenitis, Johnes disease, Border disease and orf. They must also come from MV accredited flocks.”

 Breeders who feel they have suitable rams should check the full selection criteria and complete the nomination form for consideration in the first round of selection and return it to Ed Smith by 28th July by emailing edsmith@texel.co.uk

Once nominations have been received they will be considered and breeders notified accordingly, adds Mr Smith.

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Texel Society leads on performance recording

The Texel Sheep Society and AHDB Signet Breeding Services have struck a new agreement with regards the provision of performance recording to Texel Society members.

While, initially, this will mean little change to performance recording flocks, over the next 8-12 months it will allow the Society to deliver a more streamlined, improved service to members and all those with an interest in performance recording for the longer term.

Explaining the changes breed development chairman Peter Mitchell said that this change in service delivery follows a review of breed development activity by the Society, which included a consultancy project with NZ based Abacus Bio.

For 2017 the only noticeable change for members would be a Society support payment to fully recording members of £25 +VAT on top of reductions already made by Signet.

“Current recording services for 2017 will remain unaffected, with the aim to roll out improved online data capture and wider promotional services by 2018. This will add to the research and development activity which supports the Society’s genomic technology programme which is expected to deliver new breeding values for hard to measure traits, such as disease resilience and carcass and meat quality to the membership during 2019/20.

Society chief executive John Yates added; “Breed development requires a long term commitment. This change in service delivery for recording services fits perfectly with the breed Society and our objects and aligns trait measurement and development perfectly with our large scale research and development projects.

“Over the next three years, Society-led projects will deliver £3M of investment in Industry sheep research. These projects will focus on recording hard-to-measure disease traits and validating new technology in collaboration with SRUC and ABP food group, a leading meat processor.

“Texel breeders will be the first to access new carcass grading measurement technology – Video Image Analysis (VIA) and adopt novel scoring systems for improving carcass production and managing disease traits. The aim of these projects is to create new systems and deliver the very latest in genomic estimated breeding values (gEBV’s) for these traits.

“It is expected that further work by AHDB at an Industry level, such as creating new CT-derived EBVs and access to RamCompare will further complement to the Society’s investment and breed development initiative.”

For 2017 AHDB-Signet remains the first point of technical support, with the provision and charging arrangements for ultrasound scanning remaining unchanged, said Mr Yates. “Going forward members should continue to submit recording data by their usual method and the Society encourages members to submit it online via the Society database, Basco.”

The Society will update members in due course on how to submit flock data in 2018, but from April 2018 all flock reports will be provided directly by the Society, with a dedicated individual supporting performance recording and research and development activity as part of the Society breed development strategy.

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Texel young breeders enjoy YDP event in North West England

More than 80 young Texel breeders from across the UK and Eire converged on the north west of England over the weekend of 8-10 June at the biennial Texel Five Nations Event.

The event, the third of its kind, saw young Texel breeders from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland come together for a weekend of competitions and learning alongside visits to two of the north west of England’s leading Texel flocks.

Texel Sheep Society Youth Development Programme chairman Adrian Liggett said the weekend had been an exceptional event and those attending had seen some outstanding sheep at the same time as learning more about the UK and Irish sheep industries and the Texel breed’s place within it.

“This year’s Five Nations event included flock visits to the Procters and Sportsmans flocks of Procters Farm and Messrs Boden and Davies, respectively, giving young breeders the chance to see how some of the very best breeders manage their flocks.

“Both these flocks have invested heavily in the breed over a period of years and I know many youngsters took away a lot of insight from these breeders and how they are directing the future of their flocks,” explained Mr Liggett.

Alongside the flock visits those attending also took part in a wide range of competitions in teams of four, including stock judging a variety of livestock and a live to dead judging competition, as well as some more social aspects, with the weekend concluding on Sunday 10 June with a go karting competition.

The competitive part of the event saw Southern Ireland A team victorious, with Wales coming in second and Scotland B taking third spot, said Mr Liggett. “I’d like to congratulate all those who took part in the competitions, these three teams came out on top, but it was a close fought competition from start to finish.”

“Of course the event had a strong social aspect too and the opportunity to network with Texel breeders from across the UK and Ireland was warmly welcomed by our YDP members.”

The event received sponsorship from a number of organisations, including Dunbia, the North West Texel Club, the Solway and Tyne Texel Club, the Northern Irish Texel Breeders Club, the Scottish Texel Breeders Club, the North of Scotland Texel Club, the Shropshire and Border Counties Texel Club and the Texel Sheep Society.

“We are grateful for the support of all sponsors which have helped to ensure the weekend was a great success,” said Mr Liggett. “The Texel YDP also owes a significant debt of gratitude to Duncan Mellin, Sophie Dunstan, Jenna Ballantyne and the entire YDP committee for their hard work in organising the weekend.”

Texel Sheep Society chief executive John Yates said the next generation of Texel breeders are an important part of the future of the UK sheep industry and the Society was keen to support and encourage them to take on learning experiences whenever it can.

“As we enter an exciting era in sheep production when the focus will increasingly be on marginal gains, there is no doubt that skilled young people will become increasingly important. The sheep industry needs its young people to be multi-skilled, open minded and technologically competent individuals.

“Events such as this give our young people the opportunity to showcase and further develop their skills in a friendly, competitive environment. There is a world of opportunity available to those youngsters with the right skills and the ability to apply them in a wide range of situations,” he added.

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Texel success at South West Sheep

The Texel Society enjoyed a highky successful day at South West Sheep, Tiverton, Devon, with the Society stand busy throughout the day and a huge entry in the Society's competition to win a Shearwell Data EID reader. The Society also took first in the Breed Society Stand competition.

Society chief executive John Yates said the event had been a great day for the breed, with commercial breeders visiting the stand impressed with the stock on display from both Michael Lear and Messrs Chave. "There is no doubting the popularity of the breed in the South West and this was proved with the level of interest in both the stock on display and also the Society's innovative genomic research work. 

"Strong support from the South West Texel Club ensured those visiting the stand were well informed of all Society initiatives and understood the role the breed could play in their businesses."

Winning the guess the weight competition and with it the EID reader was Mr A Cole, Bradninch, Exeter, with second spot and a £100 voucher to spend at the South West Texel Club's sale at Exeter, was Mr I Irwin. 

 

 

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Texel crosses leading spring lamb trade

Texel sired new season lambs have been heavily in demand at primestock sales so far this year, attracting premium prices at sales across the country in the early part of this week and the latter part of last week

At Skipton on Monday John and James Dugdale, of Stackhouse, topped the sale at £133/head with a Texel pen sold to Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton and Thornton, while Thomas Fall, Middleham, sold Texel lambs to a high of £131 each, these falling to Felliscliffe’s Andrew Atkinson.

Meanwhile, further north at St Boswells trade peaked at 280.8p/kg for Texel crosses, with Saturday’s sale at Newark seeing Sam Crossland sell 39kg Texel lambs at the day’s highest price of 303p/kg and Graham Howsam sold 57kg Texel lambs to a trade topping £126.

Monday’s sale at Lanark saw a top call of 296.1p/kg for Texels from W J Marhsall, Starlaw, while per head prices hit a high of £125.50 for 45kg Texels from R Reid, Bengal. 

Texel Sheep Society chairman David McKerrow said earlier lambing flocks were able to capitalise on the Texel’s quick growth coupled with exceptional carcass balance and ability to carry finish at any weight. “With prime lamb trade some 40p/kg ahead of the same week last year it is clear there is a further premium being paid for the best of the Texel cross lambs forward.

“The breed’s ease of finishing and ability to finish early means there is a real opportunity for many farmers to capitalise on the current trade,” he added.

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Second Shearwell EID winner of the summer at North Sheep

This week's NSA North Sheep event, Tow Law, proved a roaring success for the Texel Society, with a packed crowd on the Society stand throughout the day including both members and commercial producers.

Society chief executive John Yates said the event provided a great opportunity for members to meet and greet and get up to speed on Society matters, which included the Society's large scale genomic projects in collaboration with SRUC and ABP.  "Commercial producers took a lot of time in number to inspect the great exhibits on the stand provided by Stephen Kirby, North Yorkshire.

"Sheep on display included two Texel cross ewes with March born ¾ Texel lambs at foot as well as three Texel cross ewe hogs. Thisreflected the popularity of the Texel as both a maternal and terminal sire, with more than 12.5% of all ewes in the UK being Texel crosses and nearly one in three rams used being a Texel too."

Speaking to commercial producers reaffirmed the breed's popularity in the north of England, with many citing the Texel's robustness and ability to thrive in all manner of environments as key to their use of the breed, explained Mr Yates.

Visitors to the stand were also able to take part in the second Texel and Shearwell Data competition of the summer to win a Shearwell EID reader. The North Sheep competition was a guess the weight competition to guess the combined weight of all animals on the stand.

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"The competition received nearly 450 entries, with just two correct answers. These two correct entries were placed in a draw and the winner of the EID reader was Jim Cowan, Middleton St George. The correct answer was 524kg," added Mr Yates.

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Gwynedd farmer wins first EID reader in joint Texel Society and Shearwell Data competition

North Wales farmer Dafydd Roberts of Dolgellau, Gwynedd, is the lucky recipient of the first EID reader to be won at an NSA event this simmer in a joint Texel Sheep Society and Shearwell Data competition held at Welsh Sheep, Talybont-on-Usk, Brecon.

Commercial sheep producer Mr Roberts was the winner of a guess the weight competition at the event, being the only entrant from more than 200 on the day to match the combined weight of the animals on show at 515kg.

Mr Roberts who was competing in the event's Young Shepherd's competition was congratulated on his success by Texel Sheep Society chief executive John Yates and NSA chief executive Phil Stocker.

Texel Sheep Society chief executive said the event had been a huge success for the Society with its stand busy throughout the day with visitors keen to find out about the Society’s ongoing genomic research projects and understand how Texels can influence their businesses in the Brexit era.

“It was clear visitors to the event were looking to maximise income from their flocks in future and looking at ways to add value to their produce. Texels fit the bill perfectly for this, with Texel sired prime lambs in demand on a weekly basis, while Texel cross breeding sheep are equally well sought after, often fetching premium prices in all parts of the UK.” 

A further three EID readers will be up for grabs at North Sheep, South West Sheep and Northern Irish Sheep later this summer.

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Texel Society launches new carcass data research project

A new genomic research project led by the British Texel Sheep Society could be the first step towards carcass data from abattoirs being included in genetic evaluations, according to Texel Sheep Society chief executive John Yates.

“This project, which is being undertaken in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and processor ABP, is a big step for the Society and will use both computer tomography (CT scanning) and video image analysis (VIA) to generate extensive data on carcass characteristics.  

The new £1.6m project, part funded by Innovate UK, is aimed at accelerating developments in sheep breeding and will lead to the development of genomic estimated breeding values  (GEBVs) for key carcass traits in the Texel breed, explained Mr Yates.

“Through the three year course of the project thousands of Texel-sired lamb carcasses will be analysed by a combination of CT scanning and VIA to provide detailed information on the relative lean meat yields, with CT proxy traits used to provide meat quality indicators. The data will then be analysed to develop carcass trait GEBVs for the Texel breed, providing unique information for breeders and ram buyers to make future selections on,” he said.

The research project will introduce a nucleus of recorded commercial producer phenotyping farms providing Texel sired lambs to the processor, with these linked back to pedigree Texel nucleus flocks already participating in the Society’s network of ‘Pedigree Phenotyping Farms’ which have been an essential part of the Society’s highly successful initial genomics research, studying hard to measure health traits for both mastitis and footrot.

SRUC livestock geneticist Joanne Conington said that this is the first meat sheep breed in Europe to embrace genomic selection combining new, objectively-recorded CT and VIA carcass information with key maternal performance indicators including disease resistance for footrot and mastitis.

“Having more information with which to select breeding animals, gives breeders flexibility to favour animals with specific attributes that better meet market specifications, as well as improving host resistance to economically-important, endemic diseases,” she added.

Meanwhile, Richard Phelps of ABP said the the processor was excited to be working with both the Texel Sheep Society and SRUC to deliver potentially groundbreaking new breeding information.                                                      

“The UK sheep industry is likely to face significant pressures in the coming years and breeding prime lambs better suited to market demands will be essential for farmers to maximise returns.

“Using technologies such as CT scanning and VIA as tools in this research and development project and linking commercial carcass data back to pedigree breeders is an exciting first step on the road to improved communication across the sheep industry.”

There is currently a significant disconnect between carcass slaughter data and the breeding sector which provides the genetics for commercial sheep producers, said Mr Yates. “Linking carcass information provided through this project with phenotyping flocks will enable improved feedback of data and shorten links between commercial and pedigree breeders.

Additionally, the study will record and analyse carcass condemnation data and examine links between phenotype, genetics and management for a number of key diseases, he explained.

“This carcass condemnation data will feedback essential flock health information on resilience at the commercial flock and breed level.  It is hoped this information will help identify the genetic components to some key diseases and, potentially, guide future breeding decisions with a view to helping reduce reliance on key veterinary medicines, including antimicrobials, which is a significant goal for the industry.”

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Mike Young - Radtree Texels

Mike Young has sadly passed away following a long illness. Mike was a previous director on the Texel Society Board. 

 

The funeral will take place on Tuesday 9th May at St Andrews,  School Lane, Radbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 4LY, DE6 4LY, commencing at 1.30pm 

Family flowers only, donations can be made to Parkinson UK or DLR Air Ambulance.

Our sympathies are with Janet and  family.

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