The Texel Sheep Society has enjoyed 40 years in operation so far, with the Ploughing Championship 2016 marking this momentous anniversary for the organisation, as the team will be there in full force to talk about the successful breed.
Texel Sheep were first brought into Ireland around 1964, supposedly by the Department of Agriculture. Even back then, the breed was known for its excellent mothering and terminal sire qualities.
Following the success and growth of the national Texel flock, a meeting on 17th June 1976 resulted in the formation of the Irish Texel Society. Six of the original foundation flocks of this time are actually still in existence!
At this year’s Ploughing Championship, Texel will be represented as it is every year by the team in the National Sheep Breeders Tunnel. This year, the society is hoping to showcase the breed while allowing a high level of interaction with potential breeders and those interested in the success of Texel sheep; commercial breeders in particular.
At the Championship, farmers can find out the merits of the breed, as well as determine if the breed may be ideal for their farm’s geographical location. For example, farmers in lowland or hilly areas may benefit from a quick discussion with the society before deciding if they’ll thrive on their land. There will also be a free draw for Growvite products at the Texel stand.
According to Sinead Brophy, Secretary and Treasurer of the Irish Texel Society, the organisation is consistently growing. There are about 320 pedigree breeders who are currently members, and that number is expected to grow steadily in the coming years.
To Sinead, the high quality factory lambs and higher kill out weights are just some of the qualities of Texel sheep that make them highly appealing for farmers and factories alike.
While being reared on the farm, they also make very docile flocks, particularly during lambing. This makes them ideal for older farmers, or those who are working alone on their land without much help.
The Premier Sale in Blessington each year is always the highlight for the society, with great turnouts and trade. This year, it took place on August 13th. To mark the society’s fortieth year, there will be an event at the Bridgehouse in Tullamore on November 5th.
Texel sheep were first bred in Holland well over 200 years ago, on Texel Island of course! The biggest population can be found in France. Studies on Texel carcasses have found that they contain 4% less fat and 4% more lean meat than other breeds.
The breed has been involved heavily in the LambPlus scheme and Sheep Breed Improvement Scheme. This participation has held them in good stead, as it contributes to the breed’s genetic index. In the long run, consistent data-collection is extremely beneficial for a breed’s health and productivity.
The Sheep Breed Improvement Scheme requires farmers to record growth of lambs up until 120 days of age, as well as carry out ultrasonic screening to measure back fat levels.
For more information on the breed, make sure to stop by and chat to the Texel Sheep team at the National Sheep Breeders Tunnel at this year’s Ploughing Championship in Screggan.