Research & Development
As the UK’s number one terminal sire and the sire of more than 12% of the national ewe flock the Texel breed is in an enviable position within the UK sheep industry.
The result of which is that it is essential that breeders and the Texel Sheep Society continue to develop the breed for the benefit of the entire industry, both as a terminal and a maternal sire.
The Society’s Breed Development Committee has recently compiled a Breed Development Strategy which outlines a number of key priorities for the breed over the next 10 years and beyond.
This strategy is a living document which will change and adapt as the needs of the industry and the breed evolve. Central to developing the breed for the future are a number of research and development projects focused on studying hard to measure traits through the use of genomics.
Over the next few years the Society, with the support of more than £3m of external grant funding, will be involved in genomic research in to carcass traits and meat eating quality with the aim of identifying sires capable of producing prime lambs best suited to the modern retail trade.
Additionally, the provision of performance recording services has now been taken on by the Society, with the intention of making the service more applicable and accessible to Texel breeders across the UK.
Following a report which quantified the economic impact of the breed in the UK the Society will also in future aim to develop economic indexes for both terminal and maternal traits as well as developing a green house gas selection index.
And, in future, the Society will be engaging with retailers with a view to promoting the eating quality and efficiency of Texels as a result of these genomic studies.
The aim of this development work is to maintain and enhance the breed’s reputation for consistency, quality and premium returns for lamb producers, allied with enhancing the market relevance and dominance of the breed by developing traits of commercial value.
This will benefit individual breeders and the industry in a multitude of ways, with the aim being to maintain demand for rams while reducing the risk of substitution by other breeds.
From an industry perspective the breed’s development will ensure commercial producers are able to access leading genetics best suited to producing prime lambs required by the modern retail trade, while also giving them the tools to select breeding stock best suited to their systems.