THE Northern Ireland Texel Club welcomed 2013 with a fond farewell to 2012 acknowledging it as yet another busy year for the Club.
At the AGM in January, the club welcomed three new committee members Jean McCollam, Martin Cromie and John Foster onto committee. They were also thrilled to present a cheque to for £4000 to Revive, the charity which supports families of patients in the RVH Intensive Care Unit, and were especially pleased to be able to welcome the Annett family to make the presentation.
In May, at the last Royal Ulster Agricultural Show to be held in the Balmoral Show Grounds, the Texel breed dominated the sheep fold. With almost 150 Texels entered there was an excellent display of this, the most popular sheep breed in the UK. Alastair Gault’s Forkin’s flock was awarded the breed Championship and Interbreed Championship with an outstanding gimmer, which sold at the end of this year at the Northern Stars In-Lamb Sale in Ballymena for 11,000gns, while the Reserve Texel Champions was a ewe lamb from the Millars Flock bred by M& C Millar, Coleraine.
This launched the annual show season with members supporting all the local shows. The club was also pleased to be able to reintroduce the Show Flock Competition into the Club Calendar with the help of Volac, who very generously sponsored the competition, and so the battle began around the show circuit, with six special prizes awarded at selected shows and points awarded at all local shows. The victors, the Springhill Flock, bred by John Foster, Ardstraw, were announced at the Annual Dinner and Awards Night in November.
Antrim Show, yet again, hosted the special class for young breeders to demonstrate their skills as showmen and women in the Young Handlers Competition, kindly sponsored by Dennis Hamill. The Overall winner of the Hamill Cup was Jack Gault, Newtownabbey, who with sister Beth runs the Cherryvale Texel flock.
July brought with it the annual Club Trip – when a happy group of members gathered together at Belfast City Airport travelling to England in anticipation of a day of flock visits before spending two days at the Great Yorkshire show. At the time members thought the weather was dismal in our own wee corner, it was nothing to the rain they witnessed in Yorkshire, when the second show day was abandoned due to weather conditions for the first time in the history of the event! However the weather didn’t deter the intrepid travellers – the few women on the trip were delighted to drag their men folk into the beautiful city of Harrogate for a little retail therapy.
In line with tradition the Club’s annual open night took place the first week in August. This year members travelled to the West where an excellent crowd turned up to view the Springhill flock in Ardstraw, where the Foster Family provided members and friends to an excellent display of sheep along with a super night’s entertainment with stalls, stock judging, and a strictly come dancing display to name but a few items going on. The evening was a huge success which was endorsed by the generosity of the crowd during the charity auction and raffle. As always the Club are indebted to the hosts for their hard work in providing a superb event which fully demonstrated the attributes of the Texel to both pedigree and commercial breeders.
With the drop in prices across the broad in the sheep industry, members entered into the Sale Season cautiously, anticipating the slump to be reflected in the pedigree sector. The Premier Sale in August however saw fantastic female prices with Andrew Fyffe’s Overall Show Champion gimmer selling for 11,000gns while a gimmer from the Hanthorn family sold to 3,500gns. David Warwick’s Braehead flock experienced an excellent day’s trading selling ram lambs to the top price of 6,000gns and 5,000gns; however there was a slight drop in the overall average for males.
Northern Irish breeding held its own yet again at the Scottish National Sale in Lanark when Tullylagan Tonka took the second highest price of the sale selling to 42,000gns bred by the Hammond family, Philip, Jonathan and Stuart, Cookstown. This proves once again that the NI breeders are at the top of their game producing the quality sheep required within the industry today.
During the 2012 Texel Club sales alone realised over £500,000, this figure doesn’t include private sales at marts or farm to farm sales yet still highlights the importance of the breed within the pedigree sector in Northern Ireland.
The Annual Flock Competition was judged in November when the club invited John Mellin, Hullhouse, Yorkshire, to travel the length and breadth of the country judging flocks from each and every county.
The Springhill flock took the title back to back. Having won the Elanco Flock Championship in 2011 they took first place in the Large flock section this year again, finally being named as “Elanco Texel Flock of the Year 2012”. Richard Henderson’s Ballynahone flock, were awarded the reserve championship having been runners up the Large section, while Jim Wilson’s Blackstown Flock won the Medium section and the Corbo Flock bred by Adrian Liggett, Fintona took first place in the Small flock section.
The ever popular photo competition brought entries from all over the UK; with exceptional photographs featured in all sections of the competition the judges had a tough job eventually choosing their overall winner from the U12 age group – young Katie Aiken, Yorkshire.
Club members finally said goodbye to an extremely busy year with the Fatstock sales at the end of November when, Elizabeth McAllister, Kells winning Texel pair took the reserve overall Championship at Ballymena Mart, yet again highlighting the characteristics of the Texel as the number one terminal sire.
The Club is extremely grateful for the help and support of members, friends and especially their many sponsors, without whom it would be impossible to run the numerous events and competitions during the year, and members look forward to continued success in 2013 as the most popular and profitable sheep breed in the UK.