Ryan Texels based near Prosperous, Co. Kildare comprises of three Texel flocks - Rotsee; Lawn and Graigues and is now in its thirty-first year. The Ryan’s seed with Texel sheep was sowed when they began utilising Texel rams on their commercial flock back in the mid-1980’s.
Keen to venture into pastures new, Flor and the Ryan family later progressed into the pedigree Texel sheep breeding circles, as they set their sights on producing suitable rams for commercial flocks. Synonymous with Texel sheep, the cream produced by the Kildare breeders has always been highly sought after, which led the submission of entries at official Irish Texel Sheep Society sales and the development of their own sale which is staged at Blessington Mart on September, 1st, every year.
“We sell up to 110 rams and 30-40 pedigree females every single year. Our sale has grown from strength to strength, with a high return rate.” Flor Ryan told Catherina Cunnane.
The Kildare-based holding is now home to close to 200 pedigree Texel breeding ewes; the main aim is to produce suitable rams for the home commercial market, which accounts for 98% of the business, although several deals are sealed for progeny across the waters. On the female front, all Texels exchange hands with fellow pedigree breeders around the Emerald Isle with the occasional deal done for export as well.
With a powerful reputation brewing throughout the country, a selective breeding policy is a main driving force behind the success of this flock. The best dam lines have been identified, while stock unsuitable for breeding that does not meet the criteria are slaughtered in a local factory.
[Top price ewe sold for 4200gns at the Blessington Premier last year. Photo: Alfie Shaw]
“We specialise in shearling rams - they are usually in the region of 18-months when sold. We strive to breed a really good, active type of ram that is not over-pushed on concentrates, but they are reared on grass. We have a preference for this, as we feel they will live longer and last longer.”
“Texels have excellent carcasses - have lean meat; excellent conformation; lambs are hardy when born and are very suitable for outdoor lambing; when they are going through their first season, they remain very clean to work with- they are worm resistant. All of these traits combined make them desirable for commercial farmers.” Flor noted.
“They are becoming more popular with hill-sheep farmers as time progresses also,” Flor stressed.
With an eye for quality and producing sheep at the upper end of the market, it comes as no surprise that Ryan Texels is home to unstoppable show toppers. Although exhibiting the flock’s cream has been scaled back slightly in recent years, they are keen to put their best foot forward at Carnew Show; Ossory Show; Tinahely Show and Tullamore Show every year.
“The Growvite Texel All-Ireland is the pinnacle of the calendar for Texel breeders. Down through the years, we would have had the champion here on at least three occasions. When we were two years on the Texel show circuit, we picked up Reserve Champion at the RDS and after four-five years, we claimed the Supreme Champion title.”
As a leading ambassador of the breed, Flor has been a key player in the Texel circles from the early 1990’s when he first joined the Irish Texel Sheep Society council.
“I held the position of field officer from 1998-2008 - I was responsible for promoting the breed to commercial farmers at events and carcass competitions - all areas of PR.”
“I stepped down in 2008 and continued on showing at local shows in order to promote our sheep with commercial farmers. I am also the Midlands Region representative.” Flor highlighted.
Looking forward to the future, the Ryan family plan to hold their current numbers as they constantly strive to introduce new blood to the game in a bid to maintain and increase the quality of their flock - selecting four and five-star rams as part of Sheep Ireland’s genetic programmes continues to push their flock to great heights.
“We are always striving to build on our own flock sale. The plan is to be in a position to sell 100-150 shearlings every year to meet that commercial sheep farmer demand in the region.”
“The breed is rising in popularity at an enormous rate at present and we need to keep driving it forward,”Flor concluded.
Photos: Alfie Shaw
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