Page 1


Research & Education A Texel Sheep Society Publication

Collaboration delivers research goals

Students benefit from education awards

Research for improved health and welfare

Youth Development Programme update


This continues today with current projects with SRUC as outlined over leaf. A pioneering study on the ‘genomics of mastitis in meat sheep’ with additional footrot phenotyping. All of which has been a catalyst to the formation of a ‘phenotyping farm’ cluster to aid in the data collection for hard to measure disease traits. This is a perfect example, of individual flocks working with Society and academics to test new ideas with the aim of developing new systems for genetic improvement.

In 2012 the Society were pleased to support three young breeders attendance at the Sheep Breeders Round Table. Here they explain what they gained from attending the conference.

Beth Lawrence - Rhiew Texels Overall, it was a fantastic weekend and I came away with many ideas and learnt a great deal, which I will be able to use myself and pass on to fellow sheep farmers in my veterinary role. The key outcomes I learnt is that you must have the right sheep for the right system and that data can only help in your selections, so even minimal data recording such as birth weight, weaning weight or body condition scoring ewes, can hugely help the output of a flock. The weekend was also very social and I met many inspirational people and was pleased to meet so many young sheep farmers, most of whom were farming in modern and original ways leading me to believe that young people can succeed with the right initiative.

Sam Palmer - Nineveh Texels I met many interesting people from throughout the UK and the world at the 2013 Round Table; I spoke to scientists from universities, abattoir owners and farmers and learnt a great deal. I learnt that we need to be more self sufficient and more cost effective and not to be scared of running different systems to maximise our production.

Robert Pierce – Oldford Texels Attending the conference gave me increased confidence in developing the Oldford Texel flock further in the future. While giving me an insight and understanding into potential future developments within the sheep industry as a whole. The conference was a worthwhile learning experience that I am sure will be useful for years to come.

Focused on collaboration The Texel Sheep Society is once again pleased to be able to support this year’s Sheep Breeders’ Round Table. As a registered charity the Society takes a keen interest in development and continued learning in the UK sheep industry and this event provides an excellent opportunity for both. As ever the event provides a great forum and social weekend for a group of like minded breeders and representatives from breed organisations from across the industry to engage with scientists, academics and AHDB staff. Informally developing and debating ideas that could help define future research and technology delivery for the UK Sheep Industry. This year, in collaboration with our successful structure of regional Texel breeders’ clubs, we have sponsored four young Texel members attendance at the event. For many this will provide an opportunity to mix with breeders focused on using technology in a variety of breeds, systems and environments. We wish them well and hope they gain valuable experience to support them with their own decision making at home in their own businesses. In 2012 we supported three young breeders who took home important, yet differing learning experiences from their attendance at the event as their reports show. Since its formation in 1974 the Society, has been a first mover in many areas of applying technology into practice, often through a focus on collaboration. A key component of the Society’s success has been its keenness to trial new ideas, take risk to support its membership and provide the wider industry a public benefit. While often initiating and supporting research projects, it continues to be important to focus on collaboration with other organisations in industry, such as AHDB Beef & Lamb, Universities, their academics and many breed societies, both in the UK and internationally. Often pooling resources or providing the collective influence to create change in industry.

The economic and welfare impacts of both these diseases being studied cannot be overstated, with estimates suggesting each case of footrot costs more than £8/ewe, with further lost productivity costs amounting to up to £3/ewe. Additionally, it is believed the industry loses 7-12% of breeding ewes a year due to intramammary infections. Both of these conditions can also cause significant welfare issue for affected sheep, something every farmer wants to avoid. Crucially, most current treatment regimes for both footrot and mastitis rely heavily on antibiotics to eliminate infections. But with continuing pressure on farming to reduce its reliance on antibiotics in light of fears of antibiotic resistance the industry has to look at other control strategies. As with all diseases, prevention is far better than cure, but due to the environmentally infective nature of both these diseases, prevention can be difficult, particularly in the case of mastitis. As such our feasibility study, part funded through InnovateUk Agritech, will help us to learn considerable amounts and this knowledge is sure to benefit many across the industry, as that knowledge is reported as the study progresses. In parallel to our research work, we continue to develop our DNA services for members and will be using a new Low Density 17K SNP Chip in 2016 as it replaces our current parentage panel. The focus for many should be clear, collecting data simply and affordably is important. However, deciding how to translate and interpret that data and apply it into practice, to improve margins and reduce volatility, is even more important. Technology provides both challenges and solutions and we will continue to support our members, develop our youth programme and collaborate with industry to support the industry’s continued development.

John Yates Chief Executive

Sheep Breeders Round Table 2015 Texel Sponsored Young Breeders Charlotte Watkins Vet student Charlotte has been around Texels all her life, working with the family’s Millend flock from the outset and is looking forward to understanding more about the innovative approaches to genetic improvement, feed efficiency and performance recording being used both in the UK and overseas. As a regular user of the societies online flock book - Basco to understand more about breeding lines and plan future breeding plans Charlotte sees an increasing role for technology in flock management and believes using new technologies to develop the commercial attributes in the breed is important in future. Charlotte has always enjoyed planning the genetic improvement of the Millend flock, particularly picking which ewes to put to each ram in order to pass specific traits to the offspring in order to match up with the needs of the commercial ram buyer.

Molly Hobbs A keen advocate of performance recording and the benefits it offers in stock selection Molly sees the SBRT as a great way to keep up to date with all the latest information in this sphere. At home with the Elkstone flock the family aims to keep the balance between performance traits and type in order to satisfy commercial ram buyers. Using their own Texel rams in the family’s commercial flock has given them the confidence that performance recording is delivering the type of ram their customers require.

Robert Evans The Hope-Valley Texel flock was founded by Robert in 2010 and has already achieved success at the Societies prestigious Scottish National Show and Sale as a winner of the Youth Development Programme Novice class in 2013. He is committed to expanding and improving his flock without losing the quality and characteristics of the Texel breed. He is hoping to learn more in general at the SBRT that will help achieve this aim such as embryo transfer and the consequences of AI. Robert currently uses the technology available to research potential purchases and welcomes improvements to the online services available through the Texel Society.

Phil Loveland A relative new comer to the breed Phil founded his flock in late 2014, having worked with the breed commercially for a number of years. He hopes SBRT will allow him to better understand how genetic improvement programmes are working at home and abroad and feed this information back to the South East Texel Club. With a keen desire to succeed in the breed he is also keen to learn more about performance recording and how it, combined with breeding technologies such as embryo transfer could help develop his relatively new flock.

British Texel Sheep Society, National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG Tel: 024 7669 6629, Fax: 024 7669 6472, Email:


Texel Educational Awards

The Society has been carefully developing a combination of Youth initiatives since 2009, this continues to develop into a wider Youth Development programme. Providing opportunity to enthusiastic and dedicated young people is important, and as this programme develops it will ensure a long term legacy is created by the Society to support youth in the livestock industry. Whilst the Society, supported by its Club structure, continues to create many opportunities and has attracted young breeders since 1974. The Society focuses its support on national initiatives, and as such has relied on its successful regional club structure to manage local initiatives, these have included stock judging at local shows etc. A specific part of the national programme has been the “Educational achievement awards”, whereby the Texel Society Youth Development Programme issues four Student Educational achievement awards of £250 each. (£1000) annually to top performing students. Who in the University’s opinion have excelled in the study of livestock. The awards are issued by faculty leaders at CAFRE Greenmount- Northern Ireland - SRUC-Scotland, University Wales- Aberystwyth and Harper Adams -England.


James with Professor Mike Gooding

University of Wales, Aberystwyth - James A Broom Breed effects on lamb performance from birth to weaning and post weaning

Niamh with Robert Gamble

CAFRE, Greenmount College - Niamh Wood The annual management cycle of a March lambing lowland sheep flock from weaning to weaning.

Daniel with Jimmy Warnock MBE

SRUC - Daniel Stout Breeding for resistance to mastitis and footrot in meat sheep.

Joseph with lecturer Wyn Morgan

Harper Adams - J L Parry Factors influencing the role and significance of Welsh Mountain sheep with the UK’s stratified industry.

British Texel Sheep Society, National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG Tel: 024 7669 6629, Fax: 024 7669 6472, Email:


Gwenllian with Nick Tavernor

Harper-Adams - Gwenllian Haf Thomas The effect of four different semen extenders on motility of ram semen stored at different temperatures.

Kyle with Henry Gamble

Ping with David McKerrow - SRUC

Sally Anne with Professor Haresign

CAFRE - Greenmount - Kyle Boyd The annual management of a hill sheep flock.

SRUC - Ping Zhou Reproductive performance and economic impact of pure Scottish Blackface and Blackface crossed with Texel ewes

University of Wales, Aberystwyth Sally Anne North The effect of embryo grade and donor ewe age and breed on the success of embryo transfer

Jennifer Brown

John with Nick Tavernor

Kathryn with Henry Gamble & Professor Michael Mullan


Jenna Kyle

SRUC - Jenna Kyle Effect of Breed on Ewe Condition, Lamb survival and weaned lamb output in hill sheep systems

SRUC - Jennifer Brown An investigation of the effects of antioxidant provision on In Vitro proliferation of ovine granulosa cells cultured in contrasting conditions

Harper Adams - John Brocklehurst The effect of source and level of dietary protein on diet digestibility, faecal egg output and the performance of twin bearing ewes

CAFRE - Greenmount - Kathryn McKeown Hill Sheep flock Management from lambing to weaning


Fruitful Collaboration

Ground breaking trial identifies new research opportunities Simultaneous selection for reduced waste and increased lean meat yield in Texel-sired slaughter lambs

This trial demonstrates the effects of genetics, the usefulness of CT and will also be another good example of a fruitful collaboration between Texel breeders and SRUC. A recently finished one-generation selection trial using Texel sires at SRUC aimed to prove the value of a simple CT (computed tomography) based selection trait (muscle weight / live weight), which can be used like a simple index aiming at increasing lean meat yield and reducing waste at the same time. This trait is very similar to lean meat yield percentage ( LMY%) that the pig industry pays on, but is also expected to reduce carcass waste in the abattoir. From over 200 CT-scanned rams in 2013, 12 rams were used, based on their own performance in this trait. To produce divergence, rams were chosen from both ends of the distribution. They were each mated in November 2013 to 15 Mule ewes and 259 lambs were born between 5/04/2014 and 19/04/2014 (29 single, 184 as twins and 46 as triplets).

These resulting lambs were followed through rearing, CT-scanned, and a month later slaughtered in an abattoir with electronic traceability to allow individual carcass feedback. 201 lambs were finally chosen for CT scanning and slaughter, narrowing down the age span and accounting for losses. They were all CT scanned between the 25th and 28th of August 2014, being on average 137d old (from 128 to 143d). To allow for the withdrawal period of the sedative, the animals were slaughtered about 33d later, at an average age of 170d (between 163 and 175d), in the Morrisons abattoir (Woodheads Brothers) at Turriff,

because this abattoir has electronic traceability for individual lambs up to the point of carcass grading.

This allowed us to combine all preslaughter information on each lamb with the slaughter information (carcass grades and the price obtained). The analysis of the data is now ongoing and we aim to present the results of the study later on in 2015.

The preliminary results to date suggest that the Texel sires with higher lean meat percentage went on to produce crossbred lambs with higher values for this trait, as measured by CT preslaughter. Favourable relationships with other carcass traits, such as killing out percentage, fatness and gigot muscularity have also been observed. It is of note that the “low rams� are not low value rams, as they had been selected to be CT scanned by their owners, indicating that they had potential as breeding stock. However, the preliminary results suggest that there was enough genetic variation in the selected sires for the traits of interest to see differences emerging in their crossbred offspring. This trial will demonstrate the effects of genetics, the usefulness of CT and will also be another good example of a fruitful collaboration between Texel breeders and SRUC. The SRUC team (mainly L. Bunger, N. Lambe, K. McLean and John Gordon) wishes to express their thanks to the Texel breeders, who contributed rams to the trial.

British Texel Sheep Society, National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG Tel: 024 7669 6629, Fax: 024 7669 6472, Email:


Research & education 2015  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you