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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.


"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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Win an EID reader with Texel and Shearwell

The Texel Sheep Society, in conjunction with Shearwell Data, is giving farmers attending four major sheep industry events, Welsh Sheep, Tallybont on Usk, North Sheep, Tow Law, South West Sheep, Tiverton and NSA Sheep Northern Ireland, Ballymena, the chance to win one of four EID readers to help with flock management.

To be in with a chance of winning the Shearwell Data EID readers valued at £500 each visitors to the events will need to visit the Texel Sheep Society stand and take part in the relevant competition.

Texel Sheep Society chief executive John Yates says the routine use of electronic identification as a management aid has the potential to significantly improve flock productivity. “Knowledge is power and no where is that more true than in sheep production. Being able to more accurately monitor flock performance and record both vet treatments and flock information is crucial to maximising flock productivity and profitability as well as improving legislative compliance.”

EID comes with a great many benefits which can help sheep farmers make more informed management decisions and improve both their selection and marketing options, adds Mr Yates. He added that the Texel Society was grateful to Shearwell Data for their support and was looking forward to meeting commercial producers at this summer’s specialist sheep events across the UK.

Shearwell Data’s managing director Richard Webber says the addition of EID to flock management is a step many sheep farmers have found to revolutionise their working day. “EID has the potential to make flock management easier and simpler and remove the need for endless paper lists and notes which are easily lost.

“Shearwell EID readers can be easily linked to smartphones to extend their use in to full data recorders too,” he explains. “We’re delighted to have been able to team up with the Texel Society to offer four farmers the chance to win these stick readers and hope the winners find them as beneficial as we know they can be,” says Mr Webber.

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British Farming Awards entries open

The British Farming Awards are back for a fifth year, this time with a brand new venue - the National Conference Centre in Birmingham - and supported by Morrisons, with entries open from today (19th April).  Organised by Briefing Media Agriculture, parent company of Farmers Guardian, Arable Farming and Dairy Farmer, there are 14 categories in total.

Alongside farming’s core sectors – dairy, beef, sheep, arable and machinery – there is also a celebration of new entrants coming into the industry, the wealth of diversification businesses and the acknowledgement of an evolving digital presence within farming.

Texel Society members have previously fared well in the competition, reaching the final three on a number of occasions and helping raise the profile of their businesses in the process. Members are encouraged to enter themselves or nominate others they feel are worthy of an award.

Organisers are also looking for entries for Agricultural Student of the Year, Contractor of the Year and Family Farming Business of the Year. Group head of content for Briefing Media Agriculture Emma Penny says: The awards are not about being the biggest and best in a given sector, nor about being the most profitable or at the peak of a business. Instead our categories recognise how British farmers have successfully introduced innovation to drive their business forward, despite ever increasing challenges.

“From the smallest businesses to the larger units and from start-ups to those which are long established, the British Farming Awards is a reflection of the diversity, innovation and strength of spirit across our industry."

Andrew Thornber, Morrisons Manufacturing Managing Director, says: “Morrisons is pleased to sponsor The British Farming Awards. We understand that it is important for British farmers and it’s really important for Morrisons because we rely on British farming being successful.

“If our customers are going to buy more British food and support the British countryside, it’s imperative to show them what farmers do every day, their high standards, and great work to feed our communities and families."

If you have re-invented your business, changed your approach, developed a new agricultural input, adopted new technology or launched a farm diversification, the organisers want to hear from you.

To enter or nominate someone you feel is doing an exceptional job and deserves recognition for their efforts, simply complete the online application form by Friday, July 14, 2017.

For more information on the awards, individual categories and tips on entering, visit  

Award categories:

The awards welcome individual entries but also nominations from friends, family or fellow professionals.

  •     Agricultural Student of the Year sponsored by Kubota UK

  •    Arable Innovator of the Year sponsored by Dow AgroSciences

  •    Beef Innovator of the Year sponsored by ABP Food Group
  •    Contractor Innovator of the Year sponsored by Fendt
  •    Dairy Innovator of the Year sponsored by Afimilk

  •    Digital Innovator of the Year sponsored by Herdwatch

  •    Diversification Innovator of the Year (Small) and (Medium-Large)
  •    Family Farming Business of the Year sponsored by Morrisons

  •   Farmers Guardian's Farming Hero sponsored by AFP – Asset Finance Partners Ltd

  •   Machinery Innovator of the Year sponsored by Armatrac

  •   New Entrants Award: Against the odds sponsored by Massey Ferguson

  •   Outstanding Contribution to British Agriculture sponsored by NSF Agriculture
  •   Sheep Innovator of the Year sponsored by Shearwell Data

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High performance Texel semen heads to New Zealand

What is believed to be the first consignment of British Texel semen to be shipped to New Zealand has recently arrived in the country. The semen, all consigned by the Laird family’s Cambwell flock, Lanarkshire, came from rams all with leading performance figures and chosen for a number of key traits. Robert Laird said the shipment resulted from an enquiry from former UK breeder Jim Sharatt, now farming in New Zealand.

“Jim and a number of other New Zealand breeders realized that the opening of the import market from the UK gave them a great opportunity to source new genetics and potentially improve their flocks.

“However, they were looking for top performance figures to maximise the gain they were looking to make. But, as in the UK they believe there has been too much emphasis on lean growth to the detriment of carcass quality and ewe longevity,” explained Mr Laird.

As a result they selected semen from three rams all with positive fat EBVs which is essential for farms on higher ground and to aid finishing at grass, he said. “All three rams are also in the top 1% of the breed in this country for muscle depth.

“The three rams are the 2012-born Cambwell Trademark, Cambwell Yankie Doodle and Grougfoot Wizard.” Trademark has an index of 437 and a litter size EBV of 0.37, among the best in the country and ideal when prolificacy is required. He is sired by the 20,000gns Sportsmans Supreme and his dam is a full sister to the 40,000gns Cambwell Robroy and the 28,000gns Cambwell Socrates.

Camberwell Trademark

Yankie Doodle, meanwhile, is by Granite Untouchable and out of a 2009-born ewe by Caereinion Number One. With his mother still breeding at eight years old and her sire having lasted nine years, he carries great longevity as well an index of 355 and also scores well for maternal ability.

The final ram, Grougfoot Wizard, was purchased as a lamb and is by Stainton Valour and out of a 10-year-old dam by the 21,000gns Craighead Masterpiece. He has an index of 422 and is highly ranked for scan weight and eight-week weight too, ensuring good growth in his progeny.

In addition to the requirement for high performance figures all three rams had to be DNA tested for microphthalmia, footrot resilience, lamb survival and cold tolerance. Samples for this were collected by AB Europe and sent to Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand for testing, explained Mr Laird.

“As a result of all three rams passing these tests their progeny are able to be registered in the New Zealand Texel Society flock book and used in other pedigree flocks,” he added.

The New Zealand breeders have imported a total of 185 straws of semen from the three rams, with the breeders involved being Jim Sharrat of the Karak flock, Roger Webber of the Grasmere flock, Rob Forsyth of Premier Texels, Dave Burn of the Kowhai Glen flock and Dan Klinger of the Rosewhere flock.

British Texel Sheep Society chief executive John Yates said the export was another milestone in the breed’s history in the UK and congratulated Mr Laird on fulfilling the order. “British Texel genetics have been exported across much of the world, with the breed’s exceptional performance potential, allied with its ability to finish easily off forage and its overall adaptability and versatility making it a firm favourite with breeders across the globe.

“We look forward to hearing how these rams perform in New Zealand and wish the entrepreneurial New Zealand breeders the best of luck with their future breeding projects.”

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