British Texel genetics have been shipped to New Zealand for the first time as Kiwi sheep producers bid to improve the eating quality and longevity in their flocks.
The consignment of 185 semen straws from the Cambwell flock, Lanarkshire, came from rams all with leading performance figures and chosen for a number of key traits.
Owner Robert Laird said the shipment resulted from an enquiry from former UK breeder Jim Sharatt, now farming in New Zealand.
“Jim and a number of other New Zealand breeders were looking for top performance figures to maximise the gain they were looking to make.
“But, as in the UK they believe there has been too much emphasis on lean growth to the detriment of carcass quality and ewe longevity,” explained Mr Laird.
The three rams are in the top 1% for muscle depth in the UK and all had positive fat EBVs which is essential for farms above sea level and to aid finishing at grass, he said.
Rams selected by NZ breeders
Litter size EBV 0.37
Cambwell Yankie Doodle
Index of 355
Longevity – mother breeding at eight years old/sire lasted nine years
High score for maternal ability
Highly rank scan weight and eight-week weight
In addition to the requirement for high performance figures all three rams had to be DNA tested for microphthalmia, footrot resilience, lamb survival and cold tolerance. Samples were collected by AB Europe and sent to Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand, for testing.
British Texel Sheep Society chief executive John Yates said the export was a milestone in the breed’s history. “British Texel genetics have been exported across much of the world, with the breed’s exceptional performance potential, ability to finish easily off forage and its overall versatility making it a firm favourite with breeders.
“We look forward to hearing how these rams perform in New Zealand and wish the entrepreneurial breeders the best of luck with their future breeding projects.”