What is believed to be the first consignment of British Texel semen to be shipped to New Zealand has recently arrived in the country. The semen, all consigned by the Laird family’s Cambwell flock, Lanarkshire, came from rams all with leading performance figures and chosen for a number of key traits. 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 realized that the opening of the import market from the UK gave them a great opportunity to source new genetics and potentially improve their flocks.
“However, they 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.
As a result they selected semen from three rams all with positive fat EBVs which is essential for farms on higher ground and to aid finishing at grass, he said. “All three rams are also in the top 1% of the breed in this country for muscle depth.
“The three rams are the 2012-born Cambwell Trademark, Cambwell Yankie Doodle and Grougfoot Wizard.” Trademark has an index of 437 and a litter size EBV of 0.37, among the best in the country and ideal when prolificacy is required. He is sired by the 20,000gns Sportsmans Supreme and his dam is a full sister to the 40,000gns Cambwell Robroy and the 28,000gns Cambwell Socrates.
Yankie Doodle, meanwhile, is by Granite Untouchable and out of a 2009-born ewe by Caereinion Number One. With his mother still breeding at eight years old and her sire having lasted nine years, he carries great longevity as well an index of 355 and also scores well for maternal ability.
The final ram, Grougfoot Wizard, was purchased as a lamb and is by Stainton Valour and out of a 10-year-old dam by the 21,000gns Craighead Masterpiece. He has an index of 422 and is highly ranked for scan weight and eight-week weight too, ensuring good growth in his progeny.
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 for this were collected by AB Europe and sent to Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand for testing, explained Mr Laird.
“As a result of all three rams passing these tests their progeny are able to be registered in the New Zealand Texel Society flock book and used in other pedigree flocks,” he added.
The New Zealand breeders have imported a total of 185 straws of semen from the three rams, with the breeders involved being Jim Sharrat of the Karak flock, Roger Webber of the Grasmere flock, Rob Forsyth of Premier Texels, Dave Burn of the Kowhai Glen flock and Dan Klinger of the Rosewhere flock.
British Texel Sheep Society chief executive John Yates said the export was another milestone in the breed’s history in the UK and congratulated Mr Laird on fulfilling the order. “British Texel genetics have been exported across much of the world, with the breed’s exceptional performance potential, allied with its ability to finish easily off forage and its overall adaptability and versatility making it a firm favourite with breeders across the globe.
“We look forward to hearing how these rams perform in New Zealand and wish the entrepreneurial New Zealand breeders the best of luck with their future breeding projects.”