The Texel Society’s vision of developing the breed for the future continues to drive many of its initiatives, including the ever growing youth development programme (YDP) and the wide ranging research being undertaken on the Society’s behalf, not to mention supporting the largest collaborative breeding group in the UK, says Society chief executive John Yates.
Central to the YDP is helping our young breeders understand more about the future of the sheep industry and the latest breeding technologies and initiatives from across the UK and further afield.
As part of this continued educational drive the society is this year once again supporting a number of young breeders who are attending the Sheep Breeders Round Table conference in November.
“Alongside this the Society continues to support the next generation of sheep farmers with four educational awards every year at leading colleges and universities across the UK. These awards, now in their third year, see a student at each college or university awarded a £250 prize for the student who has excelled in sheep related studies each year,” he explains.
“On the research front the Society is once again at the forefront of the industry, with its ground breaking genomics project investigating the genetic element to mastitis incidence in meat sheep.
The long-term aim of this project is to identify those genes associated with mastitis incidence in the breed and develop both EBVS and genomic EBVs for mastitis resistance,” says Mr Yates.
“Alongside this work on mastitis the Society is also building on previous work on footrot in the breed, with further genomic studies on the genes influencing resistance to this troublesome disease.
This new work is building on existing research which has already found that there are some genomic regions which confer greater footrot susceptibility.”
Mr Yates adds that a recent study in collaboration with SRUC used CT analysis of more than 200 Texel-sired lambs suggests that Texel sires with a higher lean meat percentage produce crossbred lambs with higher values for this trait as measured by CT pre-slaughter. “Favourable relationships with other carcass traits, such as killing out percentage, fatness and gigot muscularity have also been observed in lambs in the trial.
“Despite the rams used in the trial all carrying high EBV values, there was still enough genetic variation in the selected sires for the traits of interest to see differences emerging in their crossbred offspring,” he adds.
This study epitomises Texel breeders’ benevolence in their appetite to support research programmes, said Mr Yates.
“The Society’s vision to support youth, provide opportunity and drive research within the breed is sure to help produce just rewards for our future farmers, benefiting members at a breed level and all that have come to rely on the Texel breed within their commercial enterprises.”