Co Fermanagh Blue Texel breeders Adrian and Clive Richardson, who represents the Cleenagh Blue Texel sheep flock, have recently had the privilege of becoming the first flock from the mainland UK based Blue Texel Society to export their breed to Spain this summer.
Contact between Carlos Granda, a farmer from the region of Asturias in the northwest of Spain, known for its rugged mountain coast, was first made with the Richardson family in the winter of 2017.
Carlos had been following the success of the breed for some time before making contact with the Richardson family.
“The all round multifunctional characteristics of this breed, combined with ease of lambing and ability to flesh easily with limited grass in Spain was the reason Carlos choose the Blue Texel breed,” said Adrian Richardson, who himself was the Northern Ireland founder of Pedigree Blue Texel, and travelled with his son, Clive, to the Netherlands in 2012 to reintroduce the breed back to Irish soil.
“The exact specification of qualities Carlos was requesting was of the most importance in this transaction,” said Clive. Once I understood what his preferred type of sheep was Carlos and myself were in agreement very shortly after.
“The animals were selected from photos,” added Clive, who relied on Google translate to convert conversations between the two parties.
“Carlos, just like the Northern Ireland commercial buyer, was requesting powerful sheep with lots of muscle and natural width.
“From this point Carlos and myself were in agreement it was simply a matter of arranging transport dates and export certificates.
“For a lamb producer in Spain to recognise the breed’s ability to flesh easily, lamb easily, and achieve top grades when finished is absolutely marvellous,” added Clive, who helps run the family butchers in Lisnaskea.
“The butcher requests a well finished lamb at 23kg, this is the benefit of the Blue Texel breed. When a lamb has to be fed to 26-28kg to be ready the farmer is at a loss, with most plants only paying to 22kg.”
The Northern Ireland Blue Texel breeders now look on with confidence over the success of this exportation from Co Fermanagh.
Carlos has promised to visit Northern Ireland Blue Texel breeders in the future with their growing entries for their sale in Dungannon.
Stephen Redmond, from the Dungannon Farmers mart, added: “This is great news for Northern Ireland Blue Texel breeders. The fact Carlos and possibly many other European farmers can come here to the annual Dungannon Blue Texel sale and purchase from the mix of genetics on display and return them to Spain says volumes about the ambitions of this new breed.
“The breeders have grown their entries to almost 130 sheep from thirteen different vendors for the event. The sale date has been announced as 27th August 2018, with a split entry of around 70 male and over 50 female sheep on offer for the event.”