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February 2012

Bulletin For members of the Texel Sheep Society

In lamb sales on fire with a 32,000 gns breed female record set

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In touch with Texel

Charitable activity recognised at Northern Ireland Club AGM Disease surveillance and science into practice selection has plenty of helpful tips to maintain good practice in your Texel flock Society Youth Development Programme gets rolling Humeston flock feature


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





Dear Member We are working hard to improve the experience for our members, and over the last few months we have introduced some great new services which we hope will really help you to gain the most from your membership and help you to get involved in all things Texel! Social media is a hot topic, both for personal use and for business. Society has a lot to do with “Socialising” and we hope you can make use of our new Facebook page. We will be making more use of this valuable communications tool over the coming year, especially with our sales and shows updates. Helping you to stay in touch as the news breaks and with our new Twitter service we will also spread the news more widely. Of course, we will continue to invest heavily into our website which has become a first point of call for many of you who need to get up to date and in depth reports on the Society and Club activity and important industry news. Even in the quieter month of January the site had over 8,000 visitors and in the whole of 2011 we received 158,000 visitors eager to read more about Texel. We believe using innovations such as these thoroughly and professionally are why Members continue to be satisfied with our performance and we encourage and welcome feedback to ensure we continue to meet your needs. As you know we’re not standing still. We’re working hard to make it easier and simpler for you to stay in touch. However, we fully understand not everyone craves for the news via the web. We know that you find our bulletins valuable and we will continue to publish, print and mail them directly to you. Society services are one thing, keeping our breed to a quality that your customers have become accustomed to is another. Breeders are always urged to focus on quality in preparation for the breeding sales.

Contents Pg 3 Welcome

Pg 4-7 Society Matters

Pg 8-13 Science into Practice

Pg 14-15 Youth Focus

Pg 16-17 Lifestyle

Pg 18 Winter Fairs If you want to offer feedback on Society Promotions email While every effort is made to ensure accuracy of the informationcontainedinthispublication,noresponsibility can be accepted by the Society for any errors or any reliance on the use of information by readers

There can be few more valuable activities in the farming year than simply taking stock of what’s worked well and what hasn’t, which tups have clicked with your ewes and which you’d be better off not using again. And, with that in mind, it is also important that breeders cast a critical eye over the ram lambs which have been retained to make shearlings. There is no doubt that Texels enjoyed an excellent trade in 2011, but as always when commercial ewe prices were high, buyers were more cautious with their ram spend. It’s a familiar pattern and one likely to repeat itself in 2012. With the prime lamb trade having been strong all year and the hogget trade still at a healthy level, many poorer type sheep would be better off sold as prime sheep now rather than being run on to make shearling rams.

To see the short videos of the Texel breed either SCAN the QR Code above or visit TexelSheepSociety More videos will be added during 2012.

Commercial ram buyers have high expectations of the quality of ram Texel breeders produce and everyone must be mindful of meeting that expectation.Add into that high feed costs and the likelihood is that many breeders will lose money on their lesser quality rams. There is no excuse for turning out poor quality when the prime sheep trade is at record levels. It is easy to believe every ram lamb you have will make a great shearling. But by killing the poorer types now you’ll be helping to increase the value of those you do retain and keep our breed at the level of popularity it is at today. Thank you for taking the time to read this. We are absolutely committed to continually improving and innovating to ensure that we deliver you an even better service in the future.

John Yates Chief Executive

The above barcodes or more correctly named QR code or Quick Response code allows readers to use their smart phones to access further information on our services. Download a QR reader app to your smartphone or camera enabled tablet computer, then launch the app and hold the device over the barcode to access the extra content found on our website. Visit the iTunes App store or Android Market to download a QR reader app for free.

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


4 Members email addresses

Reminder - ensure your current email is registered with the Society and on the Society mailing list for up to date news and information. Email or update your BASCO account profile.

Update RHAS & RUAS

- at the Royal Highland and Royal Ulster shows 2012 the entry conditions in classes - ewes above one shear - Ewes should be shown clearly in milk demonstrated by entries being accompanied by lamb/s at foot.

AGM - 2 - 4 November 2012

The Society AGM & Social weekend will be held in conjunction with the Solway & Tyne Texel Breeders Club 30th anniversary. It will be taking place at Slaley Hall, Hexham. Over half of the rooms available have already been reserved. Book now to save disappointment!!


2012 Birth Notifications start with

for “Terrific Texel” Online Birth Notifications

Enter your Birth Notifications online, its simple! If you have a computer and internet access, save yourself time, set up an online account by calling 02476 696629 Registrations department (option 1) or email

Birth Notifications IMPORTANT

Last year some members did not record the correct lamb identification numbers with the Society, using management numbers instead of the numbers from the Government tags. The Society requires the last 5 digits of the Government tags, e.g. 00123. The numbers started from 00001 in 2010 and the regulations state that this number should be continuous from that time, e.g. if your highest number was 00123 in 2011 it should be at least 00124 in 2012. Some members have been repeating numbers used in 2010. The Society does not require sequential numbering so this allows you to use the Government identification for Society notifications. For additional management purposes just put your flock code & year on the reverse of the none EID tag

Farewell Message Bruce Mair, Retiring Director representing Area 1 – North of Scotland 2001-2011 I have enjoyed my involvement with the Texel breed for the past 21 years and also my 10 year period of serving on the Board as a Director for the North of Scotland. Over this period the Texel breed, in my opinion, has made great progress, thus replacing the Suffolk as the No. 1Terminal sire in the UK at Society sales and at major shearling ram outlets, such as Kelso and Builth. Overall improvement in ram conformation has been very much in evidence. The top priced individuals, apart from having the essential breed characteristics, have, via photographic


evidence, displayed tight skins, power and good back ends. I personally feel confident that with the large pool of young breeders who have come to the fore in recent years that progress in breed developments will be maintained. More sophisticated scanning and weight recording techniques will also play an enhanced role. I am also in favour of embryo transfer having practised it for around 20 years with both Suffolk’s and Texels, some breeders have in recent years enjoyed tremendous success with this expensive technique, thus enabling them to sell more high quality females in addition to the odd “magic” ram that emerges. However many disaster stories via unfertilised eggs etc do also emerge. From my own experience and also from feedback from other Members, optimum results are obtained via the use of young 1 – 3 crop ewes, old worn out arthritic

ewes, although they may respond to the technique, very seldom deliver offspring to the quality which they did in their youth. As with major football clubs at the height of their glory, there is no room for complacency in relation to future Texel breed progress. Major shearling breeders although retaining a Texel base have been enjoying an increasing share of the shearling market with Beltex and Charollais crosses’. If this trend continues, all pedigree societies will lose out in the long term. In conclusion I hope that the British SheepindustryincludingtheTexelSociety particularly continues to enjoy increased profitability in the years that lie ahead. Bruce Mair

5 Our Vicar, Mary, was attacked by our ewe lambs By Georgie Helyer The Churchwarden asked if they could have some hay for the crib so we filled up a carrier bag with hay which was picked up by the Vicar, Mary. She said there was far too much hay in the bag so we told her to just throw what she/they didn’t want over the church wall where our ewe lambs were in the field.

The crib was duly hayed up and there was quite a bit left. However . . . the light in the crib didn’t work so another was found and the not-working one put in the carrier bag on top of the hay by the churchwarden.... so far so good. The vicar decided the job was done and picked up the bag of surplus hay and tossed it over the wall. To her horror the electric light bulb went with the hay. Being a sensible sort of person she climbed over the gate, carrier bag in hand to retrieve the bulb. Sheep thought “bag means food” Goody! Poor Mary was upended - cassock and all - while the poor starving ewe lambs inspected the bag!

Full Recorders encouraged to CT Scan lambs in 2012.

Available at the static site near Edinburgh or with the mobile scanner at various sites throughout England and Wales.  

CT Scanning Dates 2012 Date


6th – 18th July


11th-12th July

8th-9th August

21st-22nd August

5th-7th September

Nottingham Midhurst


Thorganby, Yorks

* Please note dates are NOT exclusive to one breed.  ** also available outside these dates by appointment only     Devolved bodies have agreed to support this service again in 2012.  All subsidies will apply to male lambs and a minimum of 5 lambs per flock, with a selection of sires represented. Total cost for Welsh Members using the Aberystwyth site will be less than £37 per lamb* Total cost for English Members using Nottingham site will be less than £37 per lamb* Total cost for English Members using Midhurst site will be less than £54 per lamb* Total cost for English or Scottish Members using the Edinburgh site, awaiting QMS decision. *The Texel Society will offer £3500 support for the Mobile scanner further reducing the costs for fully recorded members using the mobile locations. Further information visit and contact Kirsty McClean:Tel: 0131 535 3250 Fax: 0131 535 3404 email:

Prestigious Award goes to North Wales Texel breeder and Society Regional Director Alwyn Phillips received the John Gittens Memorial Award at the 2011Welsh winter fair. One of the most progressive sheep farmers in Wales,Alwyn Phillips, of Pen y Gelli, Ffordd Bethel, Caernarfon, won the 2011 John Gittins Memorial Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Welsh sheep industry. Aleading practitioner and advocate of improving the breeding and performance of sheep through recording. Mr Phillips farms 60 hectares, a mixed unit of sheep, cattle and arable. Sheep form the main enterprise and he has been improving their breeding and performance since 1975. In 1980 the PENYGELLI flock of Texel sheeps joined the farm and are now in the top one per cent of the UK NationalTexel Breeding Evaluation performance flocks.

Website statistics 25th August 2011 20,000 visitors to the website on one day. Attributed to the live broadcast of the Scottish National show and sale.

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



Texel Sponsorship

67% of members have authorised the Society for Gift Aid of part of their Membership fees. If you are a UK taxpayer, GiftAid offers a simple way to increase the value of any money you may donate to the Texel Sheep Society. This allows us to reclaim the tax on your donations and membership subscriptions from the Inland Revenue, provided you pay income tax or Capital Gains. This means that the Texel Sheep Society’s voluntary income could be boosted by as much as 20% with no extra cost to you. Signing up to gift aid will also allow the Society to claim 20p of every pound you donated or gave as part of your membership subscription over the last four years from the Inland Revenue too! To those of you who have already signed and returned your Gift Aid declaration form - thank you, if you haven’t please contact us!

Highly Commended Rosettes will be awarded to 9th and 10th places at all classes at the Society 4 National Premier Shows & Sales and also at the Royal Highland, Royal Welsh, Royal Ulster and Great Yorkshire Shows, further complimenting the 1st - 8th place individual rosettes currently awarded.


The Society continued to support promotion of the Texel Breed by sponsoring Primestock Show prize funds with awards of £6,300 available. Events sponsored are listed below. As a further commitment to our Membership Texel Sheep Society Members are able to claim reimbursement of their entry fees after attending and promoting the British Texel in the Texel Classes at these events in 2011. Requests for rebates must be received at the Society office by the 31st March 2011.

SPONSORED SHOWS Countryside Live – Harrogate Borderway Agri-Expo – Carlisle English Winter Fair – Stafford Scottish Royal Highland Winter Fair Royal Welsh Winter Fair – Builth Wells Smithfield Festival, East of England N.I Xmas Fat-stock Show & Sale – Ballymena

NI Texel Club Recognises Charitable Activities at 2011/12 AGM. Members of the NI Texel Club gathered at Greenmount College in January for their Annual General Meeting. Throughout the evening various presentations were made. Members were thrilled to welcome the Annett family, in particular James, who was involved in a horrific car accident back in the summertime. We were delighted that he could attend the meeting to present a cheque to Revive, a charity set up to support families of patients in the RVH Intensive Care and High Dependency Unit and provide additional equipment and services for patients. James had spent some time on the unit following his accident and the Club was pleased that he was able to present a cheque for £4,000 raised through the commission from the sale of elite gimmers, the CharityAuction and the raffle at the National AGM & Social weekend. Noel Breslin, an intensive care nurse gratefully accepted this donation and thanked all those involved for their very generous support. Further Charity donations were made to Leukaemia Research and Fields of Life, Uganda Appeal.

Website Statistics Within the U.K 84,500 visitors are from England, an increase of 22%, Scotland 31,000, an increase of 68%, and NI 8,200, 50% increase. Wales generated 6,000, which shows a whopping 178% increase in visits

7 New 32,000gns breed female record set at Christmas Cracker Sale This winter’s in-lamb gimmer sales have seen huge demand for the best females on offer, with both new and established breeders competing strongly. Leading the way and setting a new female breed record in the process was John Forsyth of the Glenside flock, Maybole, when he sold an in-lamb gimmer at the Christmas Cracker Sale, Carlisle. Setting the new breed mark was a daughter of 2010 sire of the year Strathbogie Python. This gimmer, FPG1000158, is out of a dam by Cornerstone Isaac which was bought from the Haremoss dispersal for 2200gns. Selling in lamb to 32,000gns sire Hull House Space Cowboy she was knocked down to Alasdair Beaton for the Wester Crosshill flock, Falkirk. On the same weekend another gimmer, this time from Gordon Gray’s Ettrick flock, sold at 26,000gns at Lanark. This price which was the second best ever female price for the breed, was given for ET bred gimmer GGH1000008.SheisbyKnockPapoose and out of a dam by Teiglum Nevada. She is full sister to 10,500gns sire Ettrick Rainbow Warrior. Selling with an index of 265 and in lamb to Milnbank SGT Pepper she was knocked down to

Procters Farms, Clitheroe, Lancashire. A week later at the Northern Stars sale of Texel females at Ballymena Mart, Northern Ireland, an entry from Roger Strawbridge’s Tamnamoney flock shone the brightest among the 77 head sold collecting an 11,000gns bid and setting a new Northern Ireland female record in the process. Mr Strawbridge’s sale topper, from his Coleraine-based flock, was SRY1000054, an ET bred Mullan Playboy daughter out of a dam by Castlecairn Kennedy and going back to Knock Impulse. Sold in lamb to Procters Subaru, this one is a full sister to the 2011 Royal Ulster Show breed champion and was bought by Adrian Liggett, Fintona, for the Corbo flock, and Brian Williamson for the Farmhill Flock. The fourth best price of the in-lamb gimmer sales came at the SelectSevenSeven,Lanark,whenthe Ettrick flock sold at 10,000gns. This was bid by James Logan, Pirntaton, for Ettrick’s third in the ring, GGH1000007, a full ET sister to the 26,000gnsgimmer.Thisonewassold in lamb to Procters Spectacular and with an index of 276.

Royal Show dates Royal Ulster Show 16 – 18 May Judge Jeff Aiken (PFD PROCTERS) Royal Highland Show 21 – 24 June Judge Charlie Boden (BCM – MELLOR VALE) Great Yorkshire Show 10 – 12 July Judge Victor Chestnutt (CVC CLOUGHER) Royal Welsh Show 23 – 26 July Judge D McKerrow (DMN NOCHNARY)

National Sale dates N.I National 13 - 14 August Judge G Jones (JGE ERW) Scottish National 22 – 23 August Judge K Campbell (CKS COWAL) Welsh National 24 – 25 August Judge J McKerrow (MDG GROUGFOOT) English National 27 – 28 August Judge S Smith (SJP PENPARC)

NSA Specialist Events 2012 NSA Scot Sheep - Dumfries - 6 June NSA South Sheep - Lambourn - 13 June NSA Sheep 2012 - Malvern - 4 July

National Sale Judges 2012

SRY1000054 – Tamnamoney R Strawbridge – sold for 11,000gns

GGH1000007 – Ettrick G Gray – sold for 10,000gns

G Jones N.I. National Judge

K Campbell Scottish National Judge

GGH1000008 – Ettrick G. Gray – sold for 26,000gns

FPG10000158 – Glenside J Forsyth – sold for 32,000gns

J McKerrow Welsh National Judge

S Smith English National Judge

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

Disease surveilance



Discovery of Schmallenberg virus in England. Introduction Schmallenberg virus has been confirmed by Defra AHVLA to have been found on 11 farms in England, in the Eastern counties and South Eastern counties. At this stage most farmers should do no more than be aware and extra vigilant – it is most likely that the infection was transmitted by insects during the late summer/autumn of last year and the risk of further infection being transmitted from these farms is low.  There are currently no implications to trade and no ‘firewall movement barriers’ being put in place in the UK, although Russia has put in place export bans on live ruminants and ruminant products from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, where Schmallenberg virus has been present for some time. Guidance for sheep producers Official veterinary advice is two-fold at the moment; Farmers are strongly encouraged to support the gathering of information and report any suspicions of Schmallenberg to their veterinary practice (see below for clinical symptoms), and secondly any imports of live animals from EU regions affected by Schmallenberg virus should be undertaken in strict consultation with veterinary advice and guidance. The clinical symptoms in sheep include late abortion and birth defects/malformed foetuses and we encourage any sheep keepers that experience such occurrences to speak to their vets and consider post mortem testing.  Producers in Scotland should also contact SAC Veterinary Services, and those in Wales and Northern Ireland their Government veterinary departments. Schmallenberg virus also affects cattle with symptoms including fever, milk yield reduction, and diarrhoea. Defra have indicated that they will cover the costs of testing for Schmallenberg virus although post mortem costs will be at the farmers cost.  There is currently no vaccine available to protect against Schmallenberg virus, vaccine manufacturers and laboratories are currently considering whether it would be possible and effective to develop a vaccine but estimates are that such a vaccine would be at least 2 years away.  It is expected that animals that have been infected with Schmallenberg virus will develop immunity and production is likely not to suffer in subsequent years – however if experienced it could affect individual flocks seriously. 


Summary It may seem that there is little that farmers can do to protect their flocks, and in terms of vaccine protection this is true. However there are things that farmers can and should do and these include: l Support the gathering of information and reporting by speaking with their vet regarding any abnormalities in fertility, abortion, or lamb malformations l Take veterinary advice before importing any animals from areas affected by Schmallenberg virus (details can be foundon the defra web link below).  The NSA would discourage any imports of live animals from these regions. l Remember that the virus can be transmitted during periods when insect activity is evident – but that clinical signs may not be seen until later in the season. Consequently always assess the risks of bringing stock onto your farm.   l Always practice the highest possible levels of general biosecurity and quarantine/separation whenever bringing new animals on site. l Manage your stock to promote general health and vitality.  This can be helped by good nutrition including optimum mineral and trace element levels, and through managing internal and external parasites.  Given that there is no vaccine available do all you can to increase the ability of your flock to cope with disease challenges. For more information please follow this link to the defra web site

Bluetongue vaccination strategy gets go-ahead The European Agriculture Council has agreed to allow vaccination in bluetongue-free zones, marking the culmination of a concerted lobbying campaign by the NFU and DEFRA. The NFU will now work with DEFRA and the EU commission to make sure the changes to the legislation can be implemented in the UK as soon as possible. This change will mean producers can make a commercial decision to vaccinate their animals without affecting Great Britain’s bluetongue free status. Breeders however must wait for further information from DEFRA before vaccination can take place.


Mastitis in Ewes Mastitis is an important cause of death and premature culling. It occurs when bacteria penetrate the teat canal and enter the udder. This may result in anything from a few clots in the milk to a ewe that becomes very ill and dies within a matter of hours. Most cases of mastitis occur either very soon after lambing or 3-6 weeks later when milk yields peak. Any ewe that becomes ill after lambing should be checked for mastitis as should any ewe whose lambs appear hungry. In the worst cases the blood supply to the affected half of the udder is damaged resulting in gangrene. Affected ewes are very dulI, reluctant to rise and off their food. The udder will be swollen and hard with red to purple discolouration of the skin. Although initially hot the udder quickly becomes cold and the outlook is hopeless. If these ewes do not die then the affected side of the udder will literally drop off, (slough), over the next few weeks. These ewes should be culled for welfare reasons as the wounds take months to heal with consequent ill thift, secondary infection and fly strike. In less severe cases ewes are off colour with a poor appetite. They can appear lame on a hind leg as the pain of the mastitis makes them swing the adjacent leg wide. The affected half of the udder will be swollen, painful and feel hot compared to the other side. The milk may contain clots, blood or appear watery. The lambs may need topping up as the ewe will be reluctant for them to suck. In mild cases, where the ewe has not been ill, mastitis only comes to light when firm lumps of scar tissue can be felt within the udder or teat either at weaning or pre-tupping. Milk yields and lamb growth rates are even in mild cases and ewes with damaged udders should be culled. 80% of mastitis cases are caused by either Staphylococcus aureus or Mannheimia, (Pasteurella), haemolytica. Both bacteria are carried by normal sheep - S. aureus on the skin and M. haemolytica in the mouth. Lambs pick up M. haemolytica from their dam at an early age and transfer it to the teat ends. Environmental bacteria

such as E. coli can also cause mastitis. E. coli is ubiquitous in the environment and if pens are overstocked, dirty or damp outbreaks of mastitis can occur. Dirty hands could also transfer bacteria to the teat ends when checking that a newly lambed ewe has colostrum. Anything that causes damage to the teat end, e.g. lambs’ teeth or orf, can increase the likelihood of mastitis occurring. Teat damage can be a problem if the ewes are short of milk and lambs are continually vigorously sucking the teats. Ewe body condition and nutrition need to be correct to ensure a good milk supply and blood samples can be collected 4 weeks pre lambing to check protein and energy status. Cold and windy conditions may increase problems with mastitis so provide shelter and avoid excessive crutching. Less commonly infection with Maedi Visna, (MV), virus can cause mastitis.Affected ewes have firm udders and reduced milk yields. Infection with Leptospirosis results in ewes that have no milk. If an outbreak of mastitis occurs your local veterinary laboratory can help your vet diagnose the cause by examining milk samples collected in a sterile fashion. This information can be useful in informing future disease prevention plans. Blood samples are required if MV or Leptospirosis is suspected. Segregation of affected ewes allows their food intake to be monitored, makes it simpler to feed the lambs and can reduce the spread of infection. Where ewes are very sick your vet can give an injection of antibiotics together with intravenous anti-inflammatory drugs. Discuss with your vet the most appropriate antibiotics to use in routine cases. Courtesy of Heather Stevenson (SAC)

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



SAC launches’ new website to protect sheep SAC has launched a new online resource to help sheep and goat producers avoid introducing disease into their flocks and herds when purchasing livestock. The new website lists the health status of flocks and herds currently registered with SAC’sPremiumSheep and GoatHealth Scheme (PS&GHS). More than 3,000 producers are registered with the scheme, of which a significant amount are Texel members. This is the UK’s only programme providing health status accreditation to sheep and goats. The site provides a directory showing the health status of registered flocks and herds for Maedi Visna, Caprine Arthritis, Encephalitis and Enzootic Abortion of Ewes. It also indicates which flocks and herds are members of the Scrapie Monitoring Scheme. The tool was developed through discussion with PSGHS members. Health Scheme members can log into their own page on the new website to view their current status and print health declarations. Welcoming the new resource JohnYates, Chief Executive of the Texel Sheep Society, PS&GHS Board member said: “Animal health and welfare is one of the single most important concerns in all livestock sectors. The sheep and beef industries have come to recognise the importance of cost effective preventative solutions for efficient red meat production”. Plans are in place to link Texel member’s health data with the Society BASCO database, further complimenting the

More chops... Modern pigs have 21-23 vertebrae in their thoracic/ lumbar region compared to 19 in wild boars. By CT scanning the variation in vertebrae number in sheep are being studied. The numbers of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae are on average 19.2 for Texels and 19.6 for Scottish Blackfaces. Whilst Texel have the majority of the CT scanning data available from across all breeds, which has risen to 378 lambs in 2011, many other breeds also CT scan a small number and these scans could in future provide estimates of vertebrae numbers on which to base selection for length of loin and more chops.


information available on the Texel BASCO website. For further details call 01463 226 995 or email SGHS@ or visit the new website at

11 Assessing Genetic Variation in Lambing Ease and Birth Weight with the Texel Breed The ease with which a lamb is born has a big impact on lamb survival. The Texel breed has pioneered the scoring and evaluationoflambingease,withnewEBVsforLambingEaseand Birth Weight being made available over the last 12 months. It is one of the few traits that all Texel Society members – both Signet recorders and non-recorders - have the opportunity to contribute towards, so it is important that the scoring system is well understood.

Recording Lambing Ease

LambingEasescoresareasubjectiveassessmentundertakenby the breeder. Scores relate to each lamb – so two lambs can have different scores. If you are unsure as to whether a lambing event has been assisted, leave the record blank. Blank scores are interpreted as “no score” rather than “no difficulty”. Score as many lambs as possible, including dead lambs. Some level of lambing difficulty needs to be detected in the flock for the scores to be beneficial in evaluations. Scoring all lambing events in a flock as 1 will not identify any genetic differences in ease of lambing (and not lead to high, positive lambing ease EBVs in due course).

Recording Birth Weight

The birth weight of a lamb will influence how easily it is born. Lambs should be weighed with 48 hours of birth. Weights should be measured, not estimated. The easiest way to weigh lambs is to place them in a bucket hung from a spring balance/ fisherman’s scales. The recording of birth weight is optional, but is required if lambing ease scores are to be used in future analyses

Recording Birth Weight and Lambing Ease in 2011

It is pleasing to see that 6,809 lambing ease records were supplied for lambs born in 2011 through the BASCO database (from 364 flocks) – although out of 60,000+ birth notifications this is still less than 12% of the population. The distribution of lambing ease scores is shown in the table, indicating a wide variation in the ease of lambing seen within the purebred population. The average birth weight for lambs with Score 1 is 4.52kg vs. 5.16kg for Scores 2 to 5. This shows why birth weight is such an important genetic and environmental factor that needs to be taken into account when assessing lambing ease. Out of the 6,809 scores submitted in 2011, 1,352 of them were not allocated a birth weight and so would not have been used in the analysis. This is a missed opportunity for the breeder. For the breed to make the most of Signet’s genetic assessment of lambing ease: • More breeders are encouraged to submit lambing ease scores • All lambs in the flock should be scored – not just the difficult lambings • Birth weights should be submitted to accompany lambing ease scores

Scores are as follows:

Number of scores Proportion submitted for 2011 born lambs


no assistance




slight assistance by hand




severe assistance




non-surgical veterinary assistance




veterinary assistance, surgery required




elective caesarean



Grand Total


Estimated Breeding Values for Lambing Ease

The Lambing Ease EBV predicts the genetic variation that exists in a ram’s (or ewe’s) ability to produce lambs that are born without assistance. It is not intended as a measure of the ewe’s ability to give birth. The EBV is expressed as the proportion of extra unassisted lambing events that are expected to arise from a particular sheep. High, more positive, Lambing Ease EBVs are more favourable.

Estimated Breeding Values for Birth Weight

The Birth Weight EBV predicts the genetic variation that exists in birth weight. Low, negative values indicate the genetic potential to produce smaller than average lambs; high positive values indicate the genetic potential to produce larger lambs. The use of this EBV must be made with care, as lamb survival is compromised most in both very small and very large lambs. This EBV is a guide to help breeders avoid sires known to throw very large lambs, particularly where they are being mated to ewe lambs.


In beef breeding programs it can be argued that cattle breeders have not paid enough attention to traits influencing ease of calving, whilst chasing growth and carcase attributes. In some breeds this has lead to a significant loss in market share. The situation in sheep may be different and it is fair to highlight that the lambing challenges observed in purebred Texel flocks don’t appear to cause the same magnitude of difficulty where Texel rams are used in commercial flocks. However, it is advisable to assess and monitor changes in this economically important trait to improve both the profitability and welfare of Texel sheep. The fact that all Texel breeders can play their part in the assessment of these traits is very much to the benefit of the breed.

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



Performance Recording a New Texel flock Establishing a new flock is an exciting time. A range of bloodlines are on offer at different prices and selection decisions have to be made carefully, as the genes possessed by foundation ewes will influence the flock for years to come. While careful planning goes into this initial investment, it is often a couple of years before new flocks immerse themselves in performance recording. This may be understandable if the flock is small and numbers are still growing, but some larger flocks may be missing an opportunity to get themselves established. Performance recording provides breeders with an independent way to evaluate the breeding merit of the animals in their flock. This breeding merit is assessed using Estimated BreedingValues(EBVs),whichindicate genetic superiority or inferiority for a specific trait. For new breeders recording can be of particular value, because :• Ewes may have been purchased from different sources. EBVs enable their breeding attributes to be compared. • Recording will quickly identify genetic strengths and weaknesses within the new flock relative to the rest of the breed • Foundation animals need to be quickly assessed. The unwitting use of a stock sire with poor genes for growth or muscling may not be immediately obvious, but it could permanently set the flock back. • Recording will identify elite ewes within the flock, including those capable of producing a future stock sire. Recording provides a guide to the type of sire they could be mated to. EBVs can also be used to support the marketing of rams from home and through the sale ring. While a new flock can’t purchase a decade


of success in the show ring, with a few careful breeding decisions it can produce breeding stock whose genetic potential for growth and muscling can compete with the best in the country. Recording can help put a new flock with superior genetics firmly on the map.

Are the EBVs for sheep penalisedbecauseaflockisnew to recording?

The National Texel Evaluation uses the shared dataset of Society pedigree information and performance data collated by Signet. Most animals already have EBVs based on some known ancestor who has already been weight recorded or whose progeny have been weight recorded. The quality of these initial EBVs is indicated by the Accuracy Values printed for each EBV. Animals with low Accuracy Values tend to have low EBVs – as predictions are risk averse – however they will increase rapidly if sheep are shown to perform well. The fastest way to improve a flock’s EBVs is to: • Create genetic linkage to other flocks that record – use at least one sire with high accuracy values for his EBVs. Get at least 20 and ideally 30 lambs produced by this sire. • Get as much data on your flock as possible – so weigh and scan the whole lamb crop. Consider CT scanning five of the very best. • Use the EBVs produced to make both breeding decisions (with regard to stock ewes) and selection decisions (with regard to replacements). With enough performance data and strong genetic linkage to enable comparisons with other flocks the EBVs for high genetic merit sheep will soon start to rise.

2012 EBLEX Improved Flock Awards for the Texel breed! Many congratulations to the 2012 winners of the EBLEX improved flockawards.Thisannualawardmade by EBLEX BRP is based on Signet data indicating English flocks which have made the greatest genetic improvement over the past 12 months. The 2012 awards go to...


Procters Farms PROCTERS - PFD Jeff Aiken is the flock manager at Procters Farms. The big jump in index at Procters Farms is due to a ram called HADDO RINGLEADER (KWJ1000063) - with 176 progeny dropped at the farm this year - he has a scan Weight EBV in Top 5% of the breed and Muscle Depth in top 10%, index Top 5% of the breed. This sire was the father of all 8 of the lambs taken to the Scottish National (topping 16,000gns).

Runner up;

Trinidad Investments HIGH WEALD TDV ManagedbyPeter Sutton, the High Weald success was due to the use of High EBV sires Knock Ronick and Forkins Rocksolid - both of whom had progeny that performed well when assessed using the CT scanner

Runner up:

Claybury Texels CLAYBURY - DHL Success at Claybury was due to the use of Glenside Royal Male - Index of 381

13 Texel Society awarded new grant funding from the KTN A study on Genome-wide-selection (GWS) approaches in Texel sheep important pre-requisites for creating a reference population that will offer further information to the Society Breed Development Committee. To date the sheep industry has not been able to assimilate any start-up costs to genotype sufficient animals for the creation of a reference population. Due to its structure and decreased use of AI, any application of GWS in the UK sheep industry will require time to plan, organise, and establish logistically. A referencepopulationrequiressamplingof several thousands of animals (~5000) to be statistically viable. This recent award that will start in early

2012 will assist the Society with the main objectives of: • Feasibility field study of nasal samples on Texel sheep from collection, through storage, shipping, extraction, and archiving. • Quantitative & qualitative DNA validation obtainable from nasal samples Optimise the DNA extraction protocol using such samples to obtain high quantity and high quality DNA • Start-up for a Texel DNA bank/archive which will be expanded as the funds allow and which will be used for future genome wide selection approaches • This pilot will provide the pre-requisite for using Genome Wide Selection approaches in Texels offering a validated, non invasive, cost efficient, robust, practical, legally acceptable

sampling method. This is crucial for the establishment of a DNA-bank/archive and the implementation of GWS. • The results will become the framework for further funding applications aimed at the implementation of GWS. The academic and industrial partners in this project have previously worked together, with wide experience gained in theTexel Muscling-QuantitativeTrait Loci project and a recent PhD project aimed at Muscle density and Intra Muscular Fat Content The project will support Knowledge Transfer activities of the Texel Sheep Society, and create a technical brief to go directly into the breed improvement plan involving molecular genetic tools.

Texel Sheep break into new Bulgarian Export market Early in 2011Aubrey and SueAndrews, owners of the MiserdenTexel flock, Nr Gloucester were approached by an English farmer,Adrian Thaler, who wished to take a small Texel breeding flock to his farm in Bulgaria. He visited the farm several times and between them selected seven shearling ewes and one ram. The selection was based on growth rate index and ease of lambing. The ram, a son of Miserden Orient Express, excels in both traits and the ewes were unrelated. Export arrangements were completed and the sheep travelled with a further sixteen Texels who were in transit to Romania along with a variety of other breeds. Sue andAubrey have had quite a lot of contact with the purchaser who is extremely delighted with his flock and is planning to purchase more British Texel in 2012. They have acclimatised well and he looks forward to lambing.

Miserden Orient Express

Miserden flock grazing

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



Youth Initiative Combining education, home life and science, the Society aims to support Members with a new Youth Development programme. More details will follow in 2012. Join us on Facebook and twitter loads of Videos on our You Tube channel

Meantime the initiative has already seen two young adults Iwan Williams (Llyfni) and Lucy Jackson (Rugely) attend the Sheep Breeders Round Table sponsored by the Society. The Round Table was held in November 2011, both Iwan and Lucy have submitted short reports on their attendance (shown below). The Society in conjunction with EBLEX France will be supporting Kirree and Thomas Kermode (Orrisdale) to attend and staff the SIA Event being held in Paris in February/March, reports for this event will appear on the Society website and in later publications. Kirree has won best individual, best newcomer and member of the best team at the inter-counties sheep judging at the Royal Manx show, she also represented England at the Anglo Irish Stock judging held in Northern Ireland.

Sheep Breeders Round Table report 1 Iwan Williams (Llyfni) It was a great privilege to attend the Sheep Breeders Round Table on behalf of the Texel Sheep Society. The weekend consisted of over 20 lectures, talks and discussions, covering almost every aspect of the sheep industry. Some of the highlights included a discussion from Mike Coffey (SAC) on the interesting prospects for genomic based EBVs for sheep akin to those established in the dairy and beef sectors. The prospect of EBV’s for traits with a significant genetic component such as lameness or mastitis would certainly appeal to many breeders. It would appear that the technology is in place, but their success would depend on the commitment of breeders and breed societies to large scale testing and recording. Gregor Ingram (Logie Durno) talked about his use of EID as a tool in profiling commercial traits. By recording vigour at birth, lambing ease and foot health a detailed profile of the flock can be compiled and problematic bloodlines culled. His ideas were reinforced by John Vipond (SAC) who emphasised the importance of factors affecting lamb survival at birth and the cost evaluation of labour. Possibly the highlight of the conference was a talk by Alex Ball of Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). The scale of theAustralian sheep industry is staggering and gives MLAgreat scope for research and development ($24.5million annual budget). His figures demonstrated the positive economic gains made by their recording based breeding programmes. They also take into account the effects that different EBV’s have on each other, and the potentially negative effects of over-selection for a single trait. Amongst others, informative presentations were given on marketing rams, causes of mastitis and winter forage for lambs. The organisers were great hosts and I would recommend future events to any society members.



Sheep Breeders Round Table report 2

Lucy Jackson (Rugley) After working with the home flock of Texels since I started helping Dad on the farm (E A & L Jackson - Rugley flock), they have always interested me and getting into the breeding behind the sheep and the improvements you see first-hand increases my interest. So on receiving the information that I would be sponsored to attend the sheep breeders round table, I was very happy and grateful.The round table was a very interesting three days. I found the progression through explanation of past practice, current industry and future outlook very helpful, as well as the connections between sheep breeding and outside industries such as the environment and the supply chain. I found Alex Ball extremely interesting, his presentation about theAustralian Sheep Industry definitely highlighted the difference in industries and how much we can learn from other policies and focuses. Coming from a farm who sells rams at Kelso tup sale, where tradition seems to come before genetic improvement in some cases, the never-ending debate concerning “All rams should be fed off forage” was another amusing but interesting point of the weekend! This ties in with Alex Ball’s presentation about whether the industry has seen the full impact of genetic improvements; this is whereAustralia seems to have a very different approach to UK buyers. The discussion provided by the elite ram project caused many different opinions too. It seems to have been very successful and has certainly helped us in our ram sales at Kelso, as it has definitely increased the demand for stock with performance figures and hopefully even now that the project has finished it will have further encouraged people to buy performance recorded sheep again in the future. Marketing and breeding of pedigree rams is a real interest of mine and to meet people from EBLEX, Signet and HCC provided a brilliant opportunity to hear about the changes and progression in the industry. It was clear that everyone seems to have become a lot more aware of the improvements that can be made to efficiency and the final product with the use of more technology, and many are striving to gain the best possible outcome from their flocks. Although I have worked with the sheep for quite a few years now the weekend definitely opened my eyes as to how much more I have to learn. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, both the presentations throughout but also the discussions and conversations over lunch and dinner which gave me the opportunity to meet many interesting people and learn a lot more. I am extremely grateful to the Texel society for providing me with this opportunity.

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



GIH09014 is the mother to Humestone Starbuck sold for 6500gns

Humeston Texels

The Gilmour Family AS DAIRY farmers, the Gilmours – John and Effie, and son, John – are used to researching cow families and backpedigrees before purchasing females or deciding which bulls to use. Applying a similar method in their Texel breeding has stood them in good stead.

of Border Leicesters and Suffolks, and as the foundation for their new breed, they bought three ewes from Jimmy Warnock’s Watchknowe flock. The first stock tup, Woodmarsh Yeaman, was bought a few years later, along with John’s brother David, at Broomknowes.

In the past decade, the Humeston flock, based at Maybole, in Ayrshire, has produced several big prices in the sale ring, up to 30,000gns in 2003 for Humeston Juniper. But, the family’s priority has never been to breed sale toppers – for them, it’s about producing a uniform batch of lambs that will all find buyers.

“Yeaman left a lot of good females for us and one of our main families today, goes back to that breeding,” explained John.

“It’s great selling a tup for a big price, but when there’s around 40-odd others in a year which also need to be sold, it’s important to aim for consistency and to keep the conformation right all the way through,” said John. It was in the late 1980s that the family first bought in to the Texel breed. At that time, the sheep flock consisted


In fact, it was Yeaman breeding, combined with Annan Born Free semen, which produced the mother of Humeston Juniper. And, the dam of the flock’s top price tup in 2011 (the £6500 Humeston Starbuck), goes back to that same ewe. Another tup which worked well on Yeaman daughters was Glenside Driver, bought at Lanark. He sired Humeston Eastland, which sold to the Douganhill flock and went on to sire the ewe GCK00-096 (bought by Muiresk and Castlecairn).

“We’re great believers in strong families producing the best offspring, and we do a lot of research before buying in tups,” said John. “Just as with the dairy cattle, tups have to come from good female lines before we’ll use them – we always research the mother before buying a stock tup,” he added. That principal has proved effective, as the majority of Humeston’s stock tups have bred well for the flock. After selling the Broomknowes Inspiration son, Humeston Juniper, for 30,000gns, the family paid 18,000gns at the same sale for Haddo Jordan. He left a sound base of females and bred sons to 8500gns and 6000gns. He was followed by Milnbank Lyon King, whose first son was the 12,000gns Humeston Midas. Then, Baltier Nailer was bought, with his first seven sons averaging £1800, and his daughters making their mark too. In 2010, the Gilmours sold gimmers for the first

17 time, and it was two Nailer daughters which proved star attractions, selling at 4500gns and 2400gns. More recently, just 2200gns was paid for Kelso Personality – a son of the 17,000gns Glenside gimmer – which, in turn, bred the 9000gns Humeston Rareity. Thefewfemalepurchaseswhichhavebeenmade,havealsopaid off. In 2004, John Jnr paid 2500gns for a Glenside gimmer, which was in lamb to Claybury Invader. She had twin tup lambs, which sold for 6000gns and 1600gns. Prior to that, young John built strong foundations for his own Culzean flock, with a seven-crop Noresk ewe, also got from John Forsyth at Glenside, and a Drum Major-sired ewe from Glenside, which was in lamb to Muiresk Glenfiddich. Between the two flocks, numbers now stand at 90 ewes, which run alongside 25 Suffolk ewes, and in conjunction with the 150-strong milking herd of black and white and red and white Holsteins. “The success that we have had with the Texels has allowed us to invest in the cows, and to develop and expand the steading – so from that point of view, the two have worked well together,” said John Jnr. “However, because we’re restricted on what time we can spend with the sheep, we’ve had to create a system which allows us to do both. Consequently, we AI all our ewes, which is an added cost, but it’s worth it in the longterm, for ease of management. This ensures that the entire lambing takes place mid-February,” he added.

The Gilmours also flush three to four ewes each year, generally resulting in 15-20 embryos annually. This year’s trio include the mother of Humeston Starbuck; a grand-daughter ofAnnan Born Free; and a gimmer by Newhill President. The daily milking schedule also means that the family have limited time to show their sheep, but they have made more time for it in recent years. Their most successful show sheep yet has been the tup, Milnbank Lyon King, which won the inter-breed title at Ayr twice and stood male champion at the Highland. In the sale ring, the Gilmours have recently added Kelso Ram Sale to their circuit, which already included Lanark, Carlisle and Ayr. It’s proved worthwhile, with Humeston 007, a two-shear Baltier Nailer son, selling for £2200 at Kelso in 2010. “It’s difficult to do well at both commercial and pedigree sales, as they’re different types of markets. However, it’s so important that the breed continues to concentrate on both carcase and character. Other breeds went down the route of focussing on heads alone, and it’s taken them years to recover. The Texels need to be careful not to go down that same direction – a head draws folk in to the pen, but it’s the carcase that keeps them there,” said John. Concentrating on those two traits is certainly the path the Gilmours are taking, and they hope that this year’s batch of lambs, by the new stock tups, Foyleview Scorcher and Glenside Sugar and Spice, fit that bill!

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



The Texel Sheep Society through its sponsorship programme has encouraged participation at a range of Primestock shows with Texels leading the way in a number of championships, both for live lambs and carcasses across the UK.


A pair of 44.5kg purebred Texels from Andrew Bishop took the reserve overall championship at October’s Agri-Expo, Carlisle. This pair, which won the over 40kg purebred Texel class are by homebred sire Luggsmill Dillon and later in the season won the Texel class at the Royal Highland Winter Fair. Mr Bishop also won the class for lambs up to 40kg with another pair of Luggsmill Dillon sired lambs. Second place in both Texel classes went to lambs from John and Peter Hall, Inglewood Edge, Carlisle.


Elizabeth McAllister, Kells, lifted the overall championship at Gleno Valley YFCFatstockshowandsale,Ballymena Mart, having already secured the Texel Champion with her pair of Texel cross lambs. These super pair of lambs werepurchased by Nigel Logan, Hillstown Meats,Ahoghill, selling for £280.Elizabeth also took second place in the Texel Class while a pair of lambs bred by John Young, Castlederg, took third place. TexelsandTexelcrossesconsistently featured at the top of Northern Irish Primestock show and sales in 2011, with these events the showcases for commercial lamb producers. Despite increasing competition from other breeds the Texel have continually proven to be the breed which efficiently produces a high proportion of lean meat, improving margins for all involved.


Texel sired lambs took the reserve championship honours in both the single and pairs carcass classes at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, with Dutch Texel cross lambs collecting the tickets. In the single lamb classes the reserve championship honours went to Herefordshire-based Robin Slade with his 19.5kg E3L carcass. This one



Texels were once again to the fore at the English Winter Fair, with Steve and Sara Gibbons, Hay-on-Wye, taking the supreme championship with their pair of 51kg Dutch Texel lambs. These homebred lambs had won the Texel class before going on to take the overall championship under judge Martin Brown, Bedale. Mr Brown went on to buy the lambs at £590/apiece (£11.39/ kg). And there was further success for the breed in the butchers’ lambs classes at the event too, with Robin Slade (Weekfield) taking first place in four of the six classes with homebred Dutch Texel sired lambs from his 400-ewe flock at Leominster, Herefordshire. The breed continued the winning ways in the carcass competition too, with Owen and Anne Beresford (Hollyfields), taking both the championshipandreservechampionship with DutchTexel sired lambs. Champion was a 24.1kg carcass, while reserve was another heavyweight, a 25.8kg carcass. These sold at £10/kg and £10.30/kg, respectively.

had weighed 35kg live and later sold at £300 (£15.38/kg). And in the carcass pairs class the reserve champion was a pair of Dutch Texel crosses from I T Davies and Son, Brecon. These both weighed 20.5kg dead, having weighed 37kg apiece live. One of these graded E2, with the other an E3L.

EAST OF ENGLAND SMITHFIELDFESTIVAL-RABI A pure bred Dutch Texel lamb, bred and exhibited by Robin J Slade, Pembridge, Hereford, won the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) perpetual trophy at the East of England Smithfield Festival. The RABI charity sheep class, first introduced at the Royal Smithfield Show in 2004, is an open class for single lambs of any breed or cross, the sale price of which is donated to the farming charity. As a result of the generosity of the eight exhibitors, who donated lambs, and of the auctioneers, Newark Livestock Market, who waived their commission, 100% of the sale price went to RABI, raising over £920. Mr Slade’s Texel sold for the top price of £170.

SMITHFIELD FESTIVAL EAST OF ENGLAND Texel sired entries made their mark at the inaugural East of England Smithfield Festival, Peterborough, with a pairTexel sired lambs weighing 87kg taking the reserve supreme championship forAndrew and Becky Bishop, Gloucestershire. This duo, which had stood reserve champion Continental sired lambs at the event, are by Luggsmill Dylan and also collected the purebred Continental championship. And a Dutch Texel sired lamb from Robin Slade, Leominster, took the reserve championship honours in this section too. This one, which graded E3L later sold for £105 to WimberleyHallFarmShop,Spalding.

ROYALHIGHLAND WINTER FAIR Winning the Texel championship at the Royal Highland Winter Fair, Edinburgh, were a pair of Luggsmill Dillon sired lambs from Gloucestershire-based Andrew Bishop. This pair won the Francis Brown Perpetual Challenge Trophy on Mr Bishop’s first time at the Scottish event. Reserve champion Texels were an 89kg pair also from Mr Bishop.These, again sired by Luggsmill Dillon and had previously won the lightweight class for Texel sired lambs at the event.


Signet’s performance recording service identifies the Texel sheep with the best breeding for growth and carcase traits. EBVs and Indexes are making a big difference at ram sales. Ram lambs in 2011

English National

Scottish National

Welsh National

Top 1%




Top 10%





Top 5%

Top 25%

Above average

£1,011 £601

Average price £2,341




Contact Signet to get involved




Tel: 0247 647 8829

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

The easy to use on-line pedigree web search l A proven successful partnership between breeder organisations and technologists from SAC and SIGNET l Successfully established to benefit sheep and beef pedigree, performance recording and breed improvement programmes over the last 7 years l A single focal point for information, dissemination and breed improvement across the Industry


Texel Sheep Society February 2012 Bulletin  

Texel Sheep Society February 2012 Bulletin

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