20 November 1998

Lleyn Continental debut bodes well for exports

LLEYN sheep made their continental debut at EuroTier 98, featuring with Texels and Shropshires on the joint Meat and Livestock Commission/National Sheep Association stand in Hannover.

"Germans have a strong tradition in pure breeding and Lleyn sheep are a good, self contained breed with a high level of fertility that can suit their needs," said MLC livestock export marketing manager, Henry Lewis.

Lambing percentages of up to 220% were not unusual and, with consistently good conformation, the north Wales breed was enjoying increasing popularity at home and had a promising future abroad.

But much of the emphasis of the MLC/NSA effort was in promoting the benefits of cross-breeding that forms the basis of commercial sheep husbandry in the UK.

"The Germans are not so organised in this respect and so miss out on the benefits of hybrid vigour," said Mr Lewis. Combined with the various sire reference schemes, the UK provided a blueprint of what could be achieved in terms of genetic improvement.

British Texel Sheep Society council member Sylvie Rawlings says the Germans already have a high regard for UK livestock. "They understand our traditions in showing and in breeding beef and sheep specifically for meat production."

"Texel sheep have been present in Germany for some time, but they have little concept of breed improvement. So we see significant export opportunities for breeding stock, especially given the huge hinterland of the former eastern bloc countries on Germanys doorstep."

Sheep breeder Georgie Helyer (right) from Salisbury, took her prize-winning Texel ram to Hannover. Sylvia Rawlings (left), said there were good export opportunties for British livestock.