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Scottish National Sale review videos

This year's Scottish National Sale, Lanark, saw a top price of 70,000gns and a 78% clearance rate, with 384 ram lambs finding new homes at an average price of £2313.64. See this year's video reviews of the top prices for all the action.

The video of lambs making more than 14,000gns can be seen here, while the video of lambs making between 5000gns and 14,000gns can be seen here.

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Texel - Farmers Guardian Stock Judging Competition 2015

For the second year in succession the Texel Sheep Society and the Farmers Guardian have joined forces to hold a virtual Stock Judging Competition. Entry was available in numerous editions of the Farmers Guardian and at various agricultural shows and events throughout the summer.

The Judge of the competition is highly respected and renowned Texel breeder Mr John McKerrow - Grougfoot Texels, West Lothian.  John’s selection is shown below with a brief explanation for his decision.

X - Placed first as showing great breed character, the widest and deepest, well fleshed with a tremendous back end.

A - Although longer this one lacked the character of the previous tup.

Y - This one was a long clean tup but lacked the gigot of the previous two tups

B - Lacked the length of the other Tups, deeper off his middle, poorer off his legs.

The competition has been very popular with several hundred entries received by the Farmers Guardian and the Texel Society. Those agreeing with John’s selection were put in a very large hat from which the winner was drawn along with five runners up.

Winning the £250 + a Texel body warmer & beanie hat was Eirian Jones of Waungochen, Carmarthen.

The five runners up were George Allan of Bogside Farm, East Ayrshire; Casey Campbell of Wild Boar Clough Farm, Holmfirth; Milly Hendy of Wodlands Farm, Bristol; Kirree Kermode of Orrisdale Farm, Isle of Man and Ellen Williams of Bron Y Gadair, Criccieth who each received a Texel Goody bag. 

John judging the real thing 

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StockTech provides simple solutions for farmers at Smithfield Festival

Supporting commercial farmers by providing the tools and ideas required to drive their businesses forward efficiently, is the focus of the new StockTech area at the Smithfield Festival this November.

“Producing stock efficiently has never been more important, as farmers feel the pressure of ever fluctuating prices for prime stock,” says William Haire, East of England Showground agricultural development manager.

“We will be supporting progressive producers who want to keep up-to-date with the latest industry developments, with a new StockTech area at the festival this year.

“Practical and simple solutions that use precision technology and innovative techniques can help us all to make efficiencies within our own sheep and beef businesses,” says Mr Haire.

“StockTech is all about delivering modern precision farming technology and concepts in a practical way. There is much research and development undertaken on behalf of the industry, and it’s important we take every opportunity to get a close look at the results and these fresh ideas where it can help us to produce stock as resourcefully as possible.”

The organising committee at the East of England are passionate about safeguarding the traditional values of the Smithfield Festival, whilst at the same time ensuring that the festival on the 26 and 27 November is relevant and useful for the modern sheep and beef producer.

“Working with a wide range of industry partners within the StockTech zone, there will be a variety of experts on hand, alongside demonstrations and seminars of an advisory, educational and practical nature.

“There will be something for everyone; challenging ideas for existing stock keepers, alongside guidance for arable farmers in the region who may be considering diversifying and looking for some helpful advice. Anyone who wants to learn about best practice and new and innovative methods of producing stock, should visit StockTech,” concludes Mr Haire.

Festival organisers, the East of England Agricultural Society, have confirmed that exhibitor and trade stand packs are now available, and those exhibitors who have stock entered in LiveScot can be accommodated with an early exit.

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Practical seminar line-up at Smithfield Festival

Practical advice that can be applied to any farming business is the key theme throughout the seminar line-up at this year’s East of England Smithfield Festival in November.

The seminar schedule will include sessions on red meat marketing, breeding management, introducing beef and sheep enterprises to an arable business, animal health planning, as well as contract-rearing options. 

Show Director, William Haire explains that the seminars will cover topical aspects of livestock production. “At a time when everyone across the sector is focusing on being as efficient as possible and driving their businesses forward, it is important that we explore every opportunity to see where we can make improvements and utilize all the resources that are available to us. 

“Often the simplest changes can make the biggest difference to our farms. The seminars will focus on providing those practical solutions that are relevant to everyone producing beef and lamb regardless of scale or experience.” 

There will be a comprehensive range of beef and sheep topics up for discussion both in the seminars and in the help-desk area, with experts in a number of legislative and advisory capacities on hand to answer individual enquiries. 

AHDB Beef and Lamb scientist Dr Liz Genever will talk visitors through the setting up of a rotational grazing system for beef or sheep, and how this could work within an arable farm. 

Adam Buitelaar from Buitelaar International trading will explain some of the opportunities with contract rearing and finishing of diary origin calves, while West Point vets will cover the various steps to creating and implementing an animal health plan. 

“While the Festival is located in an area primarily recognised for arable production, there are a considerable number of large scale beef and lamb enterprises in the region with the potential for many more. The benefit of grazing sheep and cattle is widely acknowledged and their place in an arable rotation can be of significant benefit to overall farm profitability,” says Mr Haire.

“There will be something for everyone,” explains AHDB Beef and Lamb South East/East Regional Manager, Nerys Wright, who is leading a seminar session on the red meat prospects for the coming year. 

“Export opportunities are quite challenging at the moment, and we can expect beef supplies to tighten up going forward. So, we need to fully appreciate that UK beef and lamb are commodities that are heavily impacted upon by what’s happening on the other side of the world, and export trade is an important part of that.” 

Mrs Wright explains that as an industry, we still only get 60% of our lambs presented for slaughter at the correct specification. “If we could get 80% of lambs ‘in spec’, then it would go a long way towards helping producers to get better returns at the farm gate. 

“We look forward to some lively discussion on all of these issues and are sure that visitors will leave the event with some new ideas and practical solutions to help their livestock businesses.”

The East of England Smithfield Festival, takes place on 26 and 27 November at the East of England Showground, Peterborough.



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NADIS - Parasite Forecast and Disease Alert - September

Liver fluke forecast, quarantine purchased stock, swayback and worms in lambs, lungworm and oestrus not observed in cattle - NADIS September Webinars.

September webinars are now out - click here to view.


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Largest ever Texel export heads to Switzerland

The largest ever exportation in recent years of British Texels is heading to Switzerland having been selected on farms in Scotland in June this year by an inward mission of Swiss breeders who also visited the Royal Highland Show.

A total of 51 Texel shearling ewes and shearling rams will make up the consignment, with stock coming from the Cambwell flock of the Laird family, the Garngour, Clarks and Teiglum flocks of the Clark family, the Culter Allers flock of the McCosh family and the Watchknowe flock of the Warnock family.

The Lairds are sending 14 shearling ewes and seven shearling rams, with the Clarks contributing a further 14 shearling ewes and three shearling rams. The McCosh family’s export consists of seven shearling ewes and one shearling ram, while five shearling ewes will head to Switzerland from the Warnock family.

Commenting on the export Robert Laird of the Cambwell flock said the sale followed on from exports to Switzerland over the last few years sourced from across the UK and reflected the growing interest in the breed in Switzerland and Eastern Europe.

“The Swiss buyers are very clear in the type of sheep they are looking for, they want correct sheep with good carcasses and sharp, alert sheep. Importantly the sheep they buy also have to be either scrapie monitored or scrapie type one. They are also keen on performance figures, ideally wanting sheep in the top 10% of the breed.”

British Texel Sheep Society chief executive John Yates said the export confirmed the success of British Texels in Europe and was one of a number of exports taking place this year. “We continue to invite and host inward missions from a number of EU countries with potential buyers eager to source top British genetics.

“The relationship with the Swiss breeders has been built over a number of years, with UK breeders also visiting Switzerland during our 40th Anniversary last year.  The Society have been instrumental in opening new markets for the breed which has also benefited the industry as a whole as other breeds often follow up with sales. We continue to lobby for new health certification for new and developing markets, primarily focusing on semen and embyros.

“Recent successes have resulted in certification for South America, in particular for embryos and semen to Brazil with a focus now on Uruguay. Our efforts are currently focused on supporting efforts from DEFRA UKECP for certification with New Zealand, which will open up a holy grail with demand for proven high performance genetics by NZ producers.

“The breed’s success in Europe following previous exports has driven demand further, with shipments to both existing and new breeders in a wide range of countries. The Texel’s adaptability is a key point for buyers, with the ability of Texels to thrive in a wide range of climates and farming systems making them well suited to the diverse nature of sheep farming across Europe and indeed the world.”

Mr Yates said the continued investment by British breeders in improving both type and performance in the breed was to be commended and had resulted in keen interest from across the globe. “Performance recording coupled with high levels of stockmanship continue to drive the breed forward and ensure British Texels are preferred choice for overseas buyers looking to improve flock productivity.”

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High quality offering at National Texel Sales

This year’s National Texel Sales, at Ballymena, Lanark, Welshpool and Worcester will once again feature a high quality offering from many of the breed’s leading flocks, including a high proportion of performance recorded rams, many in the top 10% of the breed for key commercial traits.

Speaking ahead of the sales Society chief executive John Yates said the National sales would once again offer something for both pedigree and commercial breeders looking to improve their stock.

“While undoubtedly the salse, which are the pinnacle of the breed’s busy autumn sales period, will see some high prices as breeders fight it out to secure the best possible genetics, they will also offer commercial breeders the chance to secure rams suited to producing premium priced lambs,” he explained.

“For a number of years we’ve seen commercial buyers taking large numbers of rams from the National sales to use in both early and later lambing flocks with the aim of breeding superior carcassed lambs which finish off low inputs.

“These buyers are the backbone of the sales and come back time and again because they know they can secure the type of sheep they need to farm profitably,” he added.

And demand for performance recorded rams from both pedigree and commercial buyers is growing year on year, with purchasers willing to pay significant premiums for rams with the right figures to leave lasting improvements in their lambs, said Mr Yates.

“At last year’s sales performance recorded ram lambs earned significant premiums over unrecorded ram lambs, demonstrating the demand for those sheep with top end performance.  

“There is a clear appetite for structurally correct, well fleshed lambs backed up by proven performance and buyers will pay a premium and put their faith in Texel rams to deliver the goods year after year.”

Mr Yates says demand for Texel rams is as strong as ever, with the main attraction for pedigree and commercial breeders alike the large volume of rams on offer from a wide variety of the UK membership.

“Throughout this spring and early summer when lamb prices have unfortunately been somewhat depressed it has been Texel sired lambs which have been in demand from buyers at live markets across the country.

“We have regularly seen Texel cross lambs earning premiums of more than 20p/kg across the UK and it is this ability to command the best prices which keeps commercial breeders coming back for Texels. Added to that Texels have the ability to lay down cover at every growth stage, meaning they can be finished at a variety of weights to suit market demands and grass availability,” said Mr Yates.

Catalogues for all the National sales as well as Club sales can be downloaded from the Sales page of this website

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British Texel genetics behind New Zealand progeny test success

A ram bred from British Texel genetics exported to Western Australia has delivered a stand out performance in New Zealand Beef and Lamb Genetics Central Progeny Test, ranking third overall of all the rams put through the testing.

The ram, Te Rakau 92724, is a son of an embryo transfer bred tup which was exported to Australia as an embryo in 2004. The ET bred tup is fully British bred, being a son of Kirtle Banker out of a Kirtle bred dam, HMK97095, herself a daughter of Netherkeir Blaze out of a dam by Milnbank Yesterday.

Te Rakau 92724 ranked third overall in the dual purpose index for meat and growth and performed consistently in almost every category, ranking seventh for growth, third for meat value, eighth for weaning weight, 19th for Worm FEC and 21st for Dag Score, explained his breeders Rob and Maria Wood of Te Rakau Grazing Company. 

“As a Dual Purpose ram his female progeny will be evaluated as dams.  The overall CPT result was similar to previous years with Texel and Texel cross rams in 12 of the top 20 places. 

“We were delighted when our ram was selected by the New Zealand Texel Breeders as their entry in the Dual Purpose section of the CPT.   The ram’s selection was based on his SIL-ACE (Sire Improvement Ltd – Advanced Central Evaluation) ranking of 40 after just two breeding seasons. SIL-ACE is New Zealand’s national across flock and across breed analysis with the CPT data providing critical genetic connections,” said Mr Wood.

“Without a doubt the British genetics have left an outstanding stamp on all the flocks using them, delivering great growth rates coupled with excellent confirmation and consistency in the progeny.”

Commenting on the success of the British genetics Texel Sheep Society chairman Henry Gamble said it was clear that British breeders were leading the world in performance. “What is really startling is that the genetics behind this success are now more than 10 years old and Texel breeders have made giant strides in improving performance since then, notably in growth rate and muscle depth.

“It will be interesting to see how this ram’s progeny continue to perform in the coming years and this performance puts British Texels in a strong position within the global sheep industry.

“We hope to see exports of genetics to the New Zealand and Australia opened up in the next few years and expect demand for top performing British Texels to be strong, just as it has been in Europe and South America in recent years.”

Mr Gamble added that it was clear from recent exports that British Texels can perform in a diverse range of environments at home in the UK and the continued success of British Texel genetics across the globe, including in Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, as well as in mainland Europe, was a great reflection on the skills of British Texel breeders.

"The Texel is a highly adaptable breed, so many sheep industries are now benefitting from the vision of our founder members added with the continued effort by breeders today to meet the requirements of modern processers and consumer tastes,” he explained.

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Texel Young Breeder or enthusiastic starter opportunity

A rare opportunity for a self starter to get a step on the farming ladder.
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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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