SCOTTISH Texel genetics recently arrived in New Zealand in what is believed to be the first consignment of British Texel semen shipped to the country. 

Following an enquiry from former UK breeder, Jim Sharatt, who now farms in New Zealand, three tups in Robert Laird’s Lanarkshire-based Cambwell flock were selected as suitable sires to meet the New Zealand market. 

“Jim and a number of other New Zealand breeders realized that the opening of the import market from the UK gave them a great opportunity to source new genetics and potentially improve their flocks,” said Mr Laird. “However, they were looking for top performance figures to maximise the gain they were looking to make. But, as in the UK, they believe there has been too much emphasis on lean growth to the detriment of carcass quality and ewe longevity.”

The three rams – Cambwell Trademark, Cambwell Yankee Doodle, and Grougfoot Wizard, all born in 2012 – were selected for their positive fat EBVs, essential for farms above sea level, and all sit in the top 1% of the breed for muscle depth. In addition to the requirement for high performance figures, all three rams had to be DNA tested for microphthalmia, footrot resilience, lamb survival and cold tolerance. 

The New Zealand breeders have imported a total of 185 straws of semen from the three rams, with the breeders involved being Jim Sharrat (Karak flock), Roger Webber (Grasmere), Rob Forsyth (Premier Texels), Dave Burn (Kowhai Glen), and Dan Klinger (Rosewhere).

British Texel Sheep Society chief executive, John Yates, said the export was another milestone in the breed’s history in the UK. 

“British Texel genetics have been exported across much of the world, with the breed’s exceptional performance potential, allied with its ability to finish easily off forage and its overall adaptability and versatility making it a firm favourite with breeders across the globe. We look forward to hearing how these rams perform in New Zealand and wish the entrepreneurial New Zealand breeders the best of luck with their future breeding projects.”