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Stackyard News Aug 2011

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Flagship Scottish National Texel Sale to be Broadcast Live

In what is believed to be a UK first for a pedigree sheep sale this month’s Scottish National Premier Texel sale at Lanark on Thursday 25th August will be broadcast live on the internet.

Packed Texel sale ring at Lanark

Texel sale ring at Lanark

The broadcast, which will be viewable on the British Texel Sheep Society’s website is being staged in response to the massive interest in the breed from both pedigree and commercial breeders across the UK and the world, explained Society chief executive John Yates.

“Last year we produced a video of the sale highlights which has received more than 8700 views on YouTube. Following on from that successful initiative, the Society is keen to offer further improved services to members, helping to involve more of our community in our popular flagship show and sale.

“We know there are a lot of breeders both in the UK and further afield who will be unable to attend the event and this will help them keep up to date with all the action from the sale as it happens. The broadcast will be produced using a team of three TV production staff, with extra footage also being used for future promotions of the breed.”

A new transmission device is to be used that multiplexes signals across 3G phone lines. So is a first in many ways offering greater flexibility, added Mr Yates. “But of course strength of connection to the internet from viewers’ own computers will affect the final viewing quality as well.”

And, while there will doubtless be many overseas breeders and breed enthusiasts taking advantage of the live broadcast, there will also be a sizeable delegation of French Texel breeders at the sale getting a first hand look at the quality of the British Texel, said Mr Yates. “This is just one of the many delegations from overseas we are welcoming this year.

“Texel numbers in France have suffered in recent years with just 6000 pedigree Texel ewes registered in France, compared to 80,000 in the UK. This decline in numbers is largely due to the breed failing to adjust to the modern market in France and French breeders are now looking elsewhere, including the UK, as potential sources of improved Texel genetics.”

It has been the adaptability of the Texel that has shaped its popularity in the UK and British Texels are now on a par with other breeds for growth rate, something the French have failed to achieve.

Data taken from a recent Texel evaluation shows that although there are vastly more lambs in the late 2010 analysis compared to 1992, the average breeding value for growth to 21 weeks of age is more than 5kg higher.

This is a massive shift in the genetic potential of a population, said Sam Boon, Breeding Consultant for Signet. “Sheep that would have comfortably sat in the top 10% of the breed in 1992 are now well below average.”

And while this improvement in growth is to be applauded it hasn’t been at the expense of muscle as can often be the case, explained Mr Yates. “Selection for growth rate has been accompanied by large increases in muscling across the loin through the careful selection of rams using ultrasound scanning.

“The Society has funded further support in the CT Scanning of Texel lambs in 2011, with more than 360 lambs CT scanned, over double that achieved in previous years. Gains have also been impressive, with the average Texel now possessing the breeding potential to produce an extra 1.5kg of lean meat at 21 weeks of age compared to those born in 1990.”

Changes in the growth potential of Texel sheep have been immense; enhancing both the efficiency and profitability of carcase production from Texel sired lambs, he added.

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