With every lamb conceived this autumn likely to be sold after the UK officially leaves the EU on March 19 next year, Northern Irish sheep farmers are being reminded that using Texel sires is one of the best way’s of reducing the risk in their sheep enterprises.
Continued uncertainty over trading relationships with the Irish Republic, the EU and indeed the rest of the world post-Brexit mean it is essential farmers reduce the level of risk in their business at every opportunity by simply managing inputs to maximise outputs and having a clear focus on the end market, explained Texel Sheep Society chief executive John Yates.
“Using Texel genetics to produce prime, store and breeding stock is one of the best opportunities UK sheep farmers have to add value to their flocks, with demand for Texel sired stock strong across the UK from all sections of the processing sector,” he added.
Importantly, recent research has shown that using pedigree Texel rams can add significantly to a flock’s bottom line.
“Across a four year working lifetime a pedigree Texel ram can add more than £100 a ram compared to a commercially produced ram of unknown background,” explained Mr Yates
“In addition those farmers chosing to use performance recorded Texel rams as opposed to non-recorded rams have the opportunity to add more than £250 a ram to their bottom line over a four year working life.”
These figures are borne out by live market returns seen by farmers in the Province, with Ballymena Mart’s prime stock sale on Wednesday, August 1, seeing Texel sired lambs take the top nine prices on a p/kg basis, peaking at 391p/kg, considerably above the market’s average for the day.
Mr Yates said the size of the breed’s influence, due to breeders focussing on producing Texel sires that consistently deliver on commercially and financially beneficial traits, meant that the Texel breed was adding many millions of pounds to commercial producers’ incomes.
“As the most popular terminal sire and a significantly important maternal breed the Texel is capable of adding as much as £23m a year to farm incomes.
“But it is important to note that the benefits offered come from using pedigree and performance recorded Texels. Using rams of known performance and breeding is a simple step many farmers can make to boost their sheep enterprise profits.”
Mr Yates said these added benefits were a result of continued genetic improvement in the pedigree and performance recorded Texel populations which was unmatched in crossbred and purebred non-pedigree breeding.
“This is now being backed up by the society and breeders’ £3m investment in research and development, including genomic projects investigating historically hard to measure disease, health and meat eating quality traits.
“For more than 40 years Texel breeders have focussed on developing the Texel breed to suit the needs of UK farmers. Never has this been more important than now, bearing in mind the uncertain times the Northern Irish sheep industry finds itself.”
Mr Yates added that the Texel breed’s increasing influence as a maternal breed was adding further value to the industry with Texel sired cull ewes much in demand from ethnic purchasers to suit their customers’ needs, helping to manage and mitigate flock depreciation risks.
“Processors recognise the high lean meat content offered by Texel cross cull sheep and are willing to pay premiums for them, significantly reducing offsetting the risks faced by sheep farmers.”
Northern Irish farmers wanting to secure top quality Texel sires for their flocks this year should make a note in their diaries to attend the Northern Irish National Texel Sale, Ballymena, on Wednesday, August 29.