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Collection of Performance Recorded Data

Signet have informed the Society that some forms for collection of data may have gone missing in the post. If you performance record with Signet, please ensure that you check that you are in receipt of the forms and note the closing date for the next evaluation is 12th May.

Copies of forms can be downloaded here

download Lamb Weigh Sheet

If you are interested in starting to performance record your 2011 lamb crop contact Signet directly asap.

A copy of the letter issued by Signet follows.....

Signet Breeding Services
Stoneleigh Park
Tel: 0247 647 8829

28 April 2011

Dear Texel Breeder

8 Week Weighsheets

It is my understanding that blank weighsheets have been sent to all Texel breeders in a mass mailing; however we have had four calls in the Signet office this week from Texel breeders that have not received anything from us.

In case there is a problem I am re-sending weighsheets to all Texel breeders.

Please find enclosed two blank weighsheets and a freepost envelope. Lambs should be weighed between 42 and 84 days of age to get a 56 day (8 week) adjusted weight. Please write your membership number on the weighsheet.

The next Texel run is 12th May – please ensure all lambing data is with the Texel Sheep Society and all weight data is with Signet by the 12th May at the very latest if you would like it including in the forthcoming breeding evaluation. For weights taken close to the deadline our fax is 0247 641 9071.

If you have already submitted weights, you can disregard this reminder. If you have any further queries please contact Natalie Dodd in the office Tel: 0247 647 8829.

Many thanks

Samuel Boon – Signet Manager

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Where Is Switzerland?

By Katrin Buehler

A short story from a Texel Sheep perspective following the latest export of 15 Texel Gimmers to Switzerland. We hope you enjoy the light heartered approach of the report. On a more serious note Texels continue to be in demand, with an increasing interest from this country.

Where is Switzerland? That was the question that bothered me and my pals as soon as we learned that we were going to travel to this foreign country. But let me start at the beginning of my exciting story.

I was born in early spring in 2010 and my official name is “Glenway MFZ 1000019” but my mom always called me Bernadette. I spent a happy, uneventful childhood on East Horton Farm in beautiful Northumberland. Ian our shepherd and owner is very kind and nice but a bit clumsy – even as a young lamb I could run faster than him but then the poor guy only has two legs….

One day he came to the shed as pleased as pudding and told his colleague that he had an order for fifteen gimmers to go to Switzerland. From then on life was getting exciting: He looked at us closely nearly every week and decided which ones would be going. His father also came to help making the decision. And yes, I got chosen! My mum was very proud of me! One of the old ewes said that she had heard rumours that there were wolves and lynx in Switzerland who liked tasty sheep but I guess she only wanted to spoil our joy and excitement – after all people must have some brain there too and not tolerate such dangerous animals…

Our ear tags got checked and double checked and then the vet came to examine us and – ouch – took a blood sample.

Where Is Switzerland?

Finally the great day came: A grand trailer drove into the farmyard and I was loaded together with my pals. There were five other Texels in there already from Castlehills Farm in Berwick-upon-Tweed, also destined for this exotic destination. One final glimpse to mum and Ian and - bang – the door closed. It was really a luxury journey: The fresh straw was knee deep and hay and water were plentiful. Even when five other sheep joined us we had plenty of space. These other ones looked different and seemed to be a bit dull as they didn’t even know where they were heading for. I’m sure they were not Texels – no brain! Now and then the door was opened and the driver gave us more water and hay and checked that we all were well and comfy. In fact I was so comfortable that I dozed most of the time in the luxury straw bed – so I’m sorry to say that I can’t tell you where exactly Switzerland is.

But one thing is for sure: It’s close to paradise. When we got unloaded the air smelt fresh and I could see green, lush grass. Again a vet came to give us the “all clear” and out we went into the sunshine to the green pasture and there I saw them: lot’s of other Texels. We eyed us up and kept a bit on our own – after all you never know these days! When evening came we all settled down and one of the old ewes pestered “Pioneer” to tell them about his adventures. Then I heard a sexy male voice with a distinct English accent telling about exactly the same trip we had made. It was fantastic! We all babbled out: “It’s from this place we come too!” and the ice was broken. There were talks all night long.

It’s a funny place this Switzerland. Heinz, our shepherd and owner is just the same as Ian: kind and friendly but not fast at running – we can beat him anytime. He got many visitors over the next few days all goggling at us and leaning over the fences, nearly falling in. They must have hard winters here – people all seem to have a kind of throat illness, they speak such a funny, guttural language. One of the older ewes I befriended is giving me language lessons so I will be bilingual in no time. I can already make out that the visitors are full of praise for us twenty: I’ve heard such words as “super stock, well muscled, great frame”. Heinz is as pleased as punch I can tell by his broad grin and although the visitors are making good offers he is reluctant to sell any of us. He plans to put us on show in autumn. I will remember what my mum used to say to me: “Hold your head up high girl, you’re a pure super pedigree Texel, not just an ordinary sheep.” So hopefully we will make Heinz proud.

My Swiss Texel friend “Liseli” (Swiss German for „Liz“ – see the funny language!!) told me that we will soon all go on a summer holiday up to the Alps. She says it’s nice and cool there during the hot months and the grass is green and very tasty, full of herbs. I asked her about the wolves and lynx and yes, there are some around. The Swiss shepherds are not happy about them and some of these predators already had very tragic fatal accidents….

We girls all hope that “Pioneer” the handsome English ram will join us for the holiday. Not just because he’s a compatriot but - oh - you should see him: He’s a real onlooker: The George Cloony of the sheepworld!

If I find time I’ll write you a postcard.

Best regards from lovely Switzerland.


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Texel Flock ‘Falicon’ Wins Top Award

Improved Flock Awards 2011
Norman Johnson – Falicon Texel Flock
21 March 2011

The Texel breed winner of the EBLEX Improved Flock Awards for 2011 is the Falicon Flock, owned by Norman Johnson who farms near Longridge in Lancashire.

Handbank Madoc
Handbank Madoc

Organised through the Sheep Better Returns Programme, this award is presented to the performance recorded flock that has shown the most impressive improvement in genetic merit over a 12-month period, within the breed.

Norman Johnson and his late wife Katie, bought the 12ha (30acre) Falicon Farm in 1979, when Mr Johnson was still a full-time farm vet, running a practice with his partner Glyn Davies, in Woodplumpton, near Preston.

Starting with a small flock of mules, the Johnson’s were impressed with lambs sired by a Texel tup bought to produce commercial crossbred lamb. The Falicon flock was established in 1991 when Mrs Johnson purchased three in-lamb ewes from the Carlisle sale. The mules were sold and replaced with purebred Texels, and the flock built up to 20 breeding ewes with rams bought-in. The aim was to produce a purebred carcase sheep. All lambs not retained for breeding are killed, aiming for an E3L classification. Shearling tups have been sold since 2002.

In 2007 the Johnson’s started recording birth and eight-week weights. As a vet, Mr Johnson admits he is more scientist than stock judge, and found the information on Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) he received back very useful in deciding which animals to keep. The following year some of the lambs were ultrasound scanned and in 2012 some will be sent away for CT scanning.

In the first year of recording the overall index for the flock was 150, rising to 278 last year. Out of 20 ram lambs, 17 were in the top 10% (highest index 336); out of 26 ewe lambs, 23 were in the top 10% (highest index 343).

Four years ago, the Johnson’s invested in a new stock sire ‘Handbank Madoc’, bought privately from pedigree breeders Bob and Anne Payne who farm near Sheffield. Previously they had always purchased rams based on looks and feel at pedigree sales.

The key traits they wanted to improve were growth rate, muscle depth and mature size. ‘Handbank Madoc’ has delivered improvements in all these attributes. His index has increased from 315 to 388 since being on the farm, and he regularly throws lambs with eye muscle measurements of 34-35mm or more.

In recognition of his success so far, Handbank Madoc has been nominated for the EBLEX Ram Linkage Scheme, which means other Texel breeders can now benefit from his superior genetics too.

“Katie would have been very proud of the genetic progress the flock has made and would have been delighted to win this award,” says Mr Johnson. “Much of the credit has to go to ‘Handbank Madoc’, and for that we have Bob and Anne Payne to thank.”

Most of Mr Johnson’s breeding stock is sold to commercial farmers, both off farm and through pedigree sales.

“My objective is to produce consistent commercial shearling tups that will deliver genetic gains when mated to commercial ewes,” Mr Jonson explains. “The ultimate aim is to help my customers produce more lean meat per hectare per day, as well as getting the lambs finished quicker.

“I will continue to try and improve growth rates, muscle deposition and gigot size – hopefully muscle depths will move towards the 40’s in the next few years.”

Recording performance is vital

“This is the fifth year Sheep BRP has made these awards,” says EBLEX sheep breeding specialist Samuel Boon. “The progress made since then has been significant, and many more producers – pedigree and commercial, are using tools like EBVs to help make their breeding decisions. This in turn is making their businesses more profitable and the industry more competitive as a whole.

“Norman is to be congratulated for his continuing commitment to improving the Texel breed.
Performance recording forms the backbone to his success, and he and his customers benefit from this more informed approach to breeding.”

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Controlling Internal parasites in your Texel Flock

Worms are a major threat to the health and performance of lambs and anthelmintics (wormers) are an essential part of good worm control. However, over recent years the sheep industry in the UK has become increasingly dependent on these relatively cheap products, and their frequent use (and sometimes misuse) has led to the development of resistance in the worm population.

SCOPS (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep) was formed to develop strategies for parasite control in sheep. The latest SCOPS guidelines are:

  • Quarantine treatments – yard, treat (drench with monepantel and use injectable moxidectin), quarantine for three weeks on pasture which has already had sheep on this year
  • Always administer drenches correctly and at the right dose rate
  • Test for resistance
  • Look at your control strategy
  • Reduce dependence on anthelmintics where possible
  • Try to use anthelmintics only when necessary
  • Select the most appropriate anthelmintic
  • Preserve susceptible worms

EBLEX have a useful guide available and Texel members are encouraged to make best use of the information in the download.

Beef & Sheep Parasite Control Guide

NSA have reported that Scabivax supplies will be very tight

Intervet Schering Plough, (ISP) the makers of orf vaccine Scabivax are reporting that recent batches of the vaccine have not met approved specification levels and as a result it is very unlikely that sheep farmers will have access to the vaccine this coming season. ISP have assured NSA that they are doing all they can to ensure the quickest possible return of supply.

Following on from abortion vaccine supply issues last autumn, this latest vaccine issue demonstrates the challenges facing manufacturers of vaccines and the serious consequences it can have for sheep farmers. ISP have issued the following information which may be of use in terms of trying to deal with orf in the absence of vaccine. Concerned members should also contact their vet for further advice.

Alternative orf control strategies - Sheep farmers concerned about an orf problem in their flock should contact their vet for appropriate disease control advice. Steps that farmers can take to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks:

  • Orf is a virus that spreads via contact with infected material. The virus requires a break in the skin to infect an animal, so good hygiene and preventing access to rough pasture (e.g. grazing areas with thistles) will help.

  • Keep lambing areas clean, dry and well bedded. Plenty of bedding reduces the chance of animals coming into contact with infected scabs. Wet conditions also predispose sheep to skin traumas, which will allow the virus to enter the body.

  • Any infected ewes or lambs should be isolated immediately. This will reduce the risk of disease spread.

  • Any affected lambs, or lambs from badly affected ewes, should be managed, if possible, in a manor that helps to reduce pain and discomfort. Ill animals should also be fed artificially, paying scrupulous attention to hygiene of teats, bottles and utensils. Astringents such as crystal violet dressings may be useful to speed up natural recovery.

  • Orf is a self-limiting disease, so if secondary bacterial infections are controlled – for example, with the use of Engemycin Spray – natural healing should occur in 24 to 28 days.

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Calling Young Breeders IN WALES

The Young Entrants Support Scheme (YESS) has been extended for 12 months with almost £1.8 million available to new entrants.

Three areas are available for applications: a one off grant payment for capital expenses incurred in setting-up as head of holding; access to a dedicated young entrants’ business enabler service for advice on training, knowledge transfer and joint venture opportunities; and access to funded mentoring services from established farmers.

Expressions of interest are being accepted now, with applications open from 1st September 2014.

Contact Paul McCullough on 03000 622175 or

Information courtesy of NSA.

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British Texel semen heads South to a new expanding industry

The long awaited Protocols allowing the export of UK ovine genetics to Brazil were agreed in June last year, taking many in Industry by surprise.

Although the British Texel Society had been lobbying persistently over the last 5 years for the trade health certificate, “It couldn’t have come soon enough” says John Yates Chief Executive of the Society, adding “We have seen the value of trading British Genetics with Brazil for some time and have been applying pressure to get an agreed certificate, particular praise and thanks must go to Andrew Taylor of UKECP along with Denise Crawshaw Pellin from the British Consulate- General. Negotiations had been going on for years and at times it seemed that an agreement would never be reached, we are now extremely pleased to be able to fulfil the massive demand from the Brazilian Industry for British Texel, with what will be the largest export of Pedigree sheep semen from a single breed in one consignment from the UK”.

Texel Ram Lamb Garngour Rio from Scotland one of the rams that had semen collected for export
Texel Ram Lamb Garngour Rio from Scotland one of the rams that had semen collected for export

Andrew Taylor, Veterinary Director for the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP), the DEFRA/industry partnership that works together to establish export market priorities and to develop export health certificates for UK livestock and livestock products, including live animals, germplasm and meat, added, “It’s great to see the success of the partnership in developing certification for these valuable markets giving the opportunity to add commercial value to the UK Industry. We are extremely pleased to have helped with this large export consignment and hope that many more will follow”.

The Protocols were strict –allowing only flocks of the highest health status. Close examination revealed that only a tiny minority of flocks were eligible for export.

Tatiana Santos, Trade Development Office Manager for United Kingdom Trade & Investment (UKTI). After many years without being able to export ovine semen to Brazil we have now secured a health certificate that will open a profitable market for UK breeders. Brazil has recently received the first shipment of sheep semen. We are pleased with the outcome and will continue working to ensure the future success of UK exports to the Brazilian Sheep and Goat Industry.

Marcio Aguinsky, representing a number of breeders from the Rio Grande do Sul in the south of Brazil, where 4 of the 18 million sheep that the Brazilian Industry comprises originate, arrived in August last year with the task of finding good genestock from the Texel, Suffolk and Hampshire breeds. He added that “Texels are in big demand in Brazil especially in the South where the climate is temperate, the Brazilian Industry is expanding and high genetic merit stock from a selection of fast growing terminal sire breeds will be in demand”.

The eight rams selected by the Brazilians had semen collected at the export freezing centre. After four weeks of isolation and numerous tests and inspections, semen collection and freezing was completed in early 2011. A series of post collection tests and the collating of seemingly endless documentation followed, culminating in the largest export and first for decades of UK sheep semen to Brazil in March, just eight months from the granting of the protocols.

Denise Crawshaw Pellin, Trade Development Manager for the British Consulate – General, Rio Grande Do Sul, commented, “After many years without being able to import ovine genetics from the UK, we are delighted that the Health Certificate was finally agreed between DEFRA and the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. A significant order for Texel semen has recently arrived in Brazil and we see the British participation at FEINCO, from March 21 to 25 in Sao Paulo, as an excellent opportunity to showcase the UK sheep industry and strengthen the links with Brazilian breeders for additional business”

John Yates added that “this really is something to shout about for the Industry, exporting is never an easy task, especially to high health specification, but to export in volume and with the high level of collaboration achieved at both Industry and Government Veterinary Department level, the export really speaks for itself. We have been very pleased to be able to develop trade for the British Sheep Industry. British Texels are gaining popularity from around the world, exports to Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland and Guyana has also been achieved over the last 12 months, Brazil is a great addition to the Texel export trade”.

It is hoped that the consignment of some 2500 straws with a value of £80,000, will be the first of many to Brazil. Cambwell Rankin a stock sire at the Cambwell flock, who is proving a consistent female breeder, Teiglum Rembrandt and Garngour Rio and three rams from Claybury, Reality, Regatta and Roscoe provided the Texel consignment.

Brazilian breeders are looking for British Texel with breed character with particular emphasis on growth and muscle depth. Rembrandt and Rio in particular have proved popular due to their 316 and 314 Sire Index (top 5% for the breed) and Rio is within top 1% of the breed for scan weight/ growth, and Rembrandt in Top 5%.

Texels are already very popular in the South of Brazil.

Note: The BTS are not the exporters, having assisted in the promotion and development of the health certificates, to develop the trade between members from Brastex (Brazilian Equiv to BTS) and the BTS members. The rams were selected by the Brazilian, Marcio Aguinsky. UK flocks had to have been in the SMS for at least 7 years along with many other health restrictions.

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Copper – do you know if you are inadvertently feeding it?

There is increasing concern about a number of trace element supplements containing copper and which can be sold by anyone as they are classified AVM-GSL (Authorised veterinary medicine – general sales list.) There are now apparently several supplements available off the shelf which contain levels of copper and have the potential to lead to copper toxicity.

It is known that copper requirements and susceptibility to toxicity vary enormously between sheep breeds with some continental breeds particularly sensitive. The concern is that with no regulation and no requirement for advice before these products can be purchased and used by farmers, there is significant risk of inappropriate use and hence an increased risk of copper toxicity on a flock scale. There have already been cases of adverse reactions reported to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

The message is to read labels very carefully and be very wary of products containing copper unless there is a known copper deficiency issue in the flock.

Press release courtesy of NSA.

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British Texel exhibits draw in the crowds, at the prestigious Paris Show (SIA)

The Society continued their EU promotion of British Texel by attending the 48th Paris International Agricultural Show, the annual meeting place for the farmers and breeders from the world of agriculture. Every year the general agricultural competition for animals is one of the main events of the show. Attracting over 1,100 commercial exhibitors from 34 countries. 1,400 breeders with 7 species and 360 breeds, with a total of 3,512 animals represented, all witnessed by 652, 189 visitors, a bonanza of a show nothing that the UK has to compare.

Paris Show

British Texel promotions assisted the French team at the “L’Agneau St George stand”, the British brand that Eblex support for the promotion of English lamb. The French promotional team led by the very experienced Remi Fourrier have successfully developed a recognised brand that French consumers and retailers relate to.

Paris Show

British Texels in the form of two excellent Hogget’s and two Border Leicester’s along with Hereford cattle were the main live exhibits on the stand, although the main purpose of the “St George” brand promotion is to develop relationships between the processing industry and develop the brand/product further into the French retail sector. The interest in the live exhibits from the wider public was intense, with plenty also attracted to the main plasma screen which screened the Texel promotional video “British Texel-something for everybody” along with the “St George” product promotional video.

French Texel administration is by OSON: “organisation de sélection ovine (sheep) du Nord”. It has government accreditation as the selection organisation of both the French Texel and Ille De France Breeds, and has an artificial insemination centre and an individual trial station. The office, progeny test station and AI centre are located at Verdilly, between Paris and Reims.

Paris Show

French Texel breeders are also beginning to visit the UK, with a recent visit in 2010 by Perry Christophe of the Harcingny (02) flock to the RUAS Balmoral 2010. Christophe is pictured at the Paris event, along with the OSON President, Technical Director and Gordon Gray. Christophe was extremely successful at SIA 2011 having been awarded the Champions prize for his two shear ram (25506090037), winning the 1st prize for wool and 1st prize meat section, (pictured).

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2011 EBLEX Improved Texel Flock Award

Many congratulations to the 2011 winners of the EBLEX improved Texel flock award. This annual award made by EBLEX BRP is based on Signet data indicating flocks which have made the greatest genetic improvement over the past 12 months. The 2011 awards go to...

Winner: Norman J Johnson - Falicon Farm, Longridge (FALICON – JNF)
Runner up; S & S Richardson - Mount Pleasant Farm, Barnsley (STONEBRIDGE – RSS)
Runner up: J M & C E Mitchell - Northway Court Cottage, Tewkesbury (AVON VALE – MQZ)

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