Blue Texel Sheep
They are a hardy breed, originating on the very exposed Texel Island and Holland, where they were first discovered and recorded in the early 1970’s.
Deliberate matings for the blue factor followed and more blue animals were found in white Texel flocks. By 1983, there were 213 blue sheep in 11 flocks.
The breed Society was established in Holland (Stamboek Blauwe Texelaar) with numbers rising to 6,500 sheep in 250 flocks. This society continues to grow.
The majority of flocks in Britain have been formed as a result of importation and from blue sheep born in British white pedigree Texel flocks. In all parts of the United Kingdom, there are
approximately 50 registered flocks
What are Blue Texels?
Blue Texels are similar to white Texels, but express the "blue" (Abl ) coat pattern. This is a recessive gene in the Texel breed, and Blue Texels breed true for it. Blue sheep are found in all
Texel types from the smaller Dutch Texels to the larger Texels common in Britain. There is evidence of higher fertility in Blue Texels.
The blue pattern can vary from very pale animals to quite dark, but no part of the fleece is fully black or white. The black head, ears and legs have symmetrical white markings. The flank
wool is lighter than the shoulders and belly, sometimes a pale silvery blue.
If two white Texels carry the blue gene, there is a 25% chance of a blue lamb from a mating. Matings between blue sheep will always produce blue lambs.
Uses of the Breed
Blue Texel rams are competitive as commercial terminal sires for producing prime crossbred lambs for the trade. As the colour pattern is recessive, most crossbred lambs will be white.
They also are a suitable terminal sire for coloured or rare breeds, to produce meaty coloured crossbred lambs, with possible added value from fleece, yarn, felt and furskins. There is a
strong emphasis on the selection of top quality rams for breeding purposes.
For the small pedigree flock owner, Blue Texels are attractive and friendly occupants of home paddocks, parkland and orchards. The ewes are docile, thrifty and good mothers. They tend to have narrower heads than the more extreme Texel types, and therefore avoid the lambing problems sometimes found with the white breed..
Like all other white breeds, modern Texels contain genetic material from the earliest sheep, including the recessive colour patterns. Blue Texels have been bred to select this colour. Other
factors, like higher fertility, may be linked to the colour gene.
Blue Texels are doing well in the show ring, with their distinctive appearances standing out and catching the judge's eye.
Summary of Specific Breed Characteristics of Blue Texel Sheep as set by the Society.
Head and Neck
- A narrow head is characteristic of the breed’s easy lambing qualities.
- A white halter mark, ideally the width of a webbing halter but may be broader. The halter mark may be a strong white but can also be fainter but must be visible.
- The poll is flat with no wool.
- Head is covered with fine hair, part of the breed’s hair hardiness, with white tips to the ears.
- Broad Mouth, with visible white markings below the mouth, like small incisor teeth.
- Ears well set, ideally at ten to two. â
- The Blue Texel is a medium sized sheep well-muscled from shoulder to tail with a level top line.
- Fleece should be dense, with no kemp, tightly stapled and lustrous.
- The sheep should stand square and balanced. One of the main characteristics of the breed is that the sheep are fairly light of bone.
- Wooled to the middle of the forearm and to the middle of the shank behind, the lower legs are covered in fine dark hair with white hairs appearing at the top of the front legs.
- Feet should be strong and black pointing forward.
- The ideal colour of a Blue Texel is one that varies from a darker head and shoulder, through a lighter bluey colour over the back, with dark fleece again appearing around the back end. Untrimmed, the fleece can take on a brownish tinge.
- White markings on the face in a halter mark, white markings on the upper legs.
- White edge to the ears and white fang marks on the lower lip.
- At the base of the staple the colour should ideally resemble steel blue.
- Excessive white towards the poll is to be discouraged
Society website: http://www.blue-texel-sheep.com