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Texel Society director runs for charity

Texel Sheep Society director Graham Hill of the Rolle flock, Clinton Devon Estates, Sidmouth, Devon, is undertaking four punishing runs this autumn to raise money for the Youth Cancer Trust and tie in with the Society’s own four national shows & sales.

Mr Hill will run the Dambusters hald marathon in Northern Ireland on 22 August, followed by the 8.7 mile Ben Nevis Fell Run on 5 September and then takes on the 17 mile Exmoor Stagger on 18 October before tacking the Snowdonia Marathon on 24 October.

Running a total of 65 miles across the four events Mr Hill will face 45 miles of mountain running within that total and for the Ben Nevis Fell Run faces a two hour deadline to reach the 4419ft summit of Scotland’s highest peak before coming down the mountain again.

Mr Hill’s challenge is in support of the Texel Sheep Society’s year-long fundraising efforts for the Youth Cancer Trust with various competitions taking place at this summer’s NSA Sheep Events in Wales, the North of England, the South West of England and Northern Ireland.

Explaining his motivation to take on the challenge Mr Hill said having been a runner in his younger days and having previously organised 10k runs and run a marathon he wanted to get back in to running again. “As directors of the Society we were challenged to come up with ways to raise money for the Youth Cancer Trust and an important part of our own Youth Development Programme’s fund raising. I felt running was the best way for me to do something a little different and raise money.

“With all four of these runs it is not about completing them in the best time possible, but about the challenge of completing them. They all cover challenging terrain and I’m training when time allows to try and ensure I’m in the best shape possible when it comes to the runs later this year.”

Mr Hill says training among the Devon countryside may not appear to be the same as running up Ben Nevis or Snowdonia, but having previously completed the Four Trig run which includes a total climb of up to 3500ft he has an understanding of the challenge ahead.

Texel Sheep Society chairman Henry Gamble urged all Society members and the wider farming community to support Mr Hill in his fundraising efforts in whatever way they could. “I can’t praise Graham enough for taking on this challenge, these are long distance runs in tough conditions and certainly not something many of us would want to consider!

“Cancer is a disease which touches the lives of us all in some way, both young and old, but is particularly hard to see young people with their lives in front of them struck down with this horrible disease. Donating even just a small amount in support of Graham will help make a difference to the lives of young people battling against cancer and that is something everyone can appreciate in some way,” he said.

Donations can be made by visting the Texel Society’s Just Giving page at

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Northern Irish sheep event a great day for Texels

Northern Irish Texel breeders had a busy day at NSA Sheep Northern Ireland at Ballymena Mart on Monday, with the Society stand proving a big draw for event visitors.

With large numbers of commercial Texel users and potential customers visiting the stand the Northern Irish Club members and Northern Irish Young Breeders members spoke with a wide variety of farmers from across the province and beyond.

Adding an extra dimension to the Society’s stand was a guess the weight competition which saw event visitors have to guess the weight of Forkins Viagra, a shearling ram kindly loaned by Alastair Gault.

The winning entry came from Ian Goudy, with Viagra tipping the scales at 137kg and in the process helping raise money for the Society’s 2015 charity of the year, the Youth Cancer Trust.

Overall the event was well attended and while current lamb prices were the topic of the day the interest shown in the Texel breed was testament to the ability of the breed to leave premium lambs on any ewe breed.

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Young Texel breeders enjoy Five Nations Event

The recent Texel Five Nations Youth event hosted by the Irish Texel Society saw more than 40 British Texel Society young members enjoy an action packed weekend in Southern Ireland.

Arriving on Friday the first stop for those attending was a visit to Pat and Barry Farrell’s Oberstown flock to view the flock and meet up with Irish young members.

Texel Sheep Society Youth Development Programme chairman Duncan Mellin said the group were impressed with the quality and uniformity of the flock.

“We were expecting to see some top quality Texels and we weren’t disappointed. The Farrell’s bred the 2014 BTSS first season sire of the year, Oberstown Usain Bolt, the first southern Irish bred ram to win the award and the standard of their flock made it easy to see why.”

After a social evening the group then headed to Liam Dillon’s Kilclammon flock on Saturday for the highlight of the weekend the team competitions.

“This was a diverse competition, which saw teams have to complete a range of stockjudging tasks, including judging four commercial cows, four commercial ewes and four pairs of butchers lambs.

“Teams also had to name the sires of pedigree Texel lambs based on photographs of the sires as well as guess the weight of a cow and calf and a horse,” he explains.

Alongside these stock based tasks the teams also took part in field games, including hurling and bale rolling and also had to complete a ‘quiz with a difference’.

“The difference was the answers were written on stones placed at the bottom of a pool. This meant one member from each team had to go in to the pool to get the answers.

“All of these activities then contributed to the overall team score, with the English team of James Robinson, Nicholas Woodmass, Scott Armstrong, Oliver Taylor and Shauna Lake, winning the competition.”

On Sunday the group then visited the All Ireland Texel Show held at Dundalk which had a high quality entry forward. “All those attending were greatly impressed with the quality of the sheep on display and they were a credit to the breeders.

“We are extremely grateful to the Irish Texel Sheep Society for organising and hosting the Five Nations event and all the hard work which went in to making a highly successful weekend.”

British Texel Sheep Society chairman Henry Gamble, added that the societies on both sides of the water have strength in depth with many young breeders having a  keen eye for stock and a clear focus of what the breed can deliver to commercial producers.

“Both the Irish and the British societies have a reputation for providing successful learning and social events for their membership and this event has more than delivered on that front. We have been pleased to be able to provide support for our young breeders.


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Texel breeders win industry award

Perthshire-based Texel breeders Neil and Debbie McGowan are this year’s winners of the Johnston Carmichael Trophy for their work in raising the awareness of the importance of performance recording in Scotland.

The McGowans, who farm at Incheoch near Alyth, are willing to embrace innovation and have developed their own system of recording maternal traits to support EBVs. They were among the first in Scotland to opt to sell their pedigree rams from the farm, with the focus very much on communicating the animals’ estimated breeding values (EBVs).

The couple developed their own maternal recording system to rigorously select the right genetics for homebred replacements which supports the conventional EBVs. They now performance record 1100 of their ewes which are mainly Lleyns with a few Texels.

Johnny Mackey, QMS’ head of industry development said The McGowans were extremely worthy winners of the trophy and had championed the use of performance recording for a very long time. “Their family-run sheep enterprise is an excellent example of how EBVs can enhance a business and also how to market genetics to both the pedigree and commercial sheep farmer.”

Neil McGowan said: "We are really delighted to have received this award. The trophy has a lot of names on it of people who have inspired and helped us along the way. “It’s great to see that since those early days, recording sheep has become more mainstream and is now much more accepted and understood than for those early pioneers."


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Successful day at Highland Sheep

The Texel Society once again enjoyed another successful NSA event, with NSA Highland Sheep at Fearn Farm, Tain, proving to be a great day for the breed.

Hosted by pedigree Texel and commercial sheep farmers the Scott family, the event drew a large crowd from not just the Highlands and Islands, but also across Scotland and further afield.

The Society’s stand again proved a big draw for visitors with some top quality crossbred ewes with Texel sired lambs at foot impressing all who stopped at the stand.

Once again the quality of the stock on the stand proved the breed’s ability to thrive in a range of farming systems and climates and demonstrated the supreme adaptability of Texels to the challenges of farming in some of the more remote parts of the UK.

Supplied by Kenneth and Stephen Sutherland, Sibminster, Thurso, the March-born lambs were the focus of a guess the weight competition, with their total combined weight being 152kg.

With no-one guessing the exact weight a draw was held between two entries just either side of the right answer, with the eventual winner being Euan MacArthur, Cawdor.


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Texel young breeders head off on learning experience

More than 40 young Texel breeders are heading off to Ireland this week (12-14 June) for the second Texel Five Nations event.

The event, which follows on the inaugural Five Nations weekend in July 2013, will see young Texel breeders from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland join the Irish contemporaries for a weekend of competitions and learning alongside visits to some of the leading southern Irish Texel flocks.

Texel Sheep Society Youth Development Programme chairman Duncan Mellin says the weekend promises to be a great event and offers younger members the chance to see some outstanding sheep at the same time as learn more about the Irish sheep industry and the Texel breed’s place within it.

“The first Five Nations event two years ago was a huge success and this one promises to be equally as good, with some superb flock visits lined up as well as an action packed competitions programme.

“Alongside that we’ll also be learning more about how performance recording fits in to the Irish sheep industry and the potential use of genomics in Texel breeding. Both of these are hot topics both in Ireland and here at home in the UK, so it will be interesting to get an Irish perspective on how technology can aid breeding better Texels,” he explains.

“Of course the event will have a strong social aspect too and the opportunity to network with Texel breeders from across the UK and Ireland is one which has been warmly welcomed by our YDP members.”

UK members attending the event will receive £2500 financial support from the Texel Sheep Society, with this going towards accommodation for British members and to help support logistics and running of the event by the Irish Texel Society young breeders.  , explained Society chief executive John Yates.

“The next generation of Texel breeders are an important part of the future of the UK sheep industry and the Society is keen to support and encourage them to take on learning experiences whenever they can,” he explained.

“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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Great day for Texels at North Sheep

The second of this summer’s regional NSA Sheep Events, North Sheep at Cockermouth, Cumbria, once again saw the Texel Sheep Society’s stand enjoy a busy day with both breeders and commercial Texel users eager to discuss the merits and the challenges for the breed within the UK commercial sheep industry.

Featuring fit for purpose commercial stock, once again the stand drew praise from commercial producers using Texels to maximum benefit and to produce premium prime lambs in what continues to be a season of volatility in lamb price.

Society chief executive John Yates said the Society’s innovative work in the field of genomics was also a key talking point of the event, with many producers and local members keen to learn how it could impact on the industry in the coming years.

“There’s no doubt visitors to the event were concerned about the current lamb trade, but they were equally looking for innovative ways of improving their farming systems.

“Both the premium prices being achieved by Texel prime lambs across the UK and the Society’s investment in novel breeding technologies were key points of discussion with many of those visiting the stand during the day.”

Sheep for the Society’s stand were kindly loaned by local producer Brian Harrison, Beck farm, Wheyrigg, Wigton with six crossbred Texel ewes and 12 prime lambs providing a major draw to the Society stand.

Alongside the more serious aspect of the event the Society also ran a guess the weight competition on its stand, with half the proceeds going to the Society’s 2015 charity of the year, the Youth Cancer Trust, and the other half going to MacMillan Cancer Support. A total of £175 was raised, which will be split equally between the two charities.

Complementing the Society’s presence at the event was the widespread use of Texel rams as the sire of lambs on many of the maternal breed’s own promotions at the event. “The popularity of Texel rams as a prime lamb sire on a wide range of dams is the ultimate mark of the breed’s dominance in the UK sheep sector.”

The Society will also be present at Highland Sheep at Fearn Farm, Tain, on Tuesday 9 June and South West Sheep at Nichols Nymet, North Tawton, Devon, on Tuesday 16 June and Sheep Northern Ireland on Monday 6 July.


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