Growing demand for pedigree Blue Texel females in the UK has reached a new high in the last 12 months as prices continue to soar in the sale ring and almost 200 new members join the society.
Since its importation to the UK in the 1980s, the breed has developed massively across the country and it is now being recognised as a terminal sire within the commercial sheep industry, producing easily lambed progeny which are vigorous at birth.
Although Blue Texels have been on British soil for some time, it’s only in these last few years that membership and birth registrations have bolstered due to more and more pedigree flocks being established the length and breadth of the country.
Cheralyn Henderson, secretary of the Blue Texel Sheep Society, said 2020 had been a real turning point in the breed as membership rose by 40% and registrations increased by almost 1,700 on the year.
“The Blue Texel Sheep Society was formed in 2003 and has gone from 503 members in 2019 to 700 members to date,” she said.
“There are now 123 Scottish members in the society and 77 of those joined in the last 12 months.
“Registration numbers have also jumped massively with a total of 7,589 registrations and birth notifications in 2020.”
Ms Henderson described demand for in-lamb gimmers and ewe lambs as “phenomenal” and said the breed was attracting interest from other pedigree sheep breeders.
She said: “The society has held more sales than ever before and we are still receiving numerous daily requests from people who are looking to source foundation stock.
“It’s also great to see others coming in to the breed, many of those Beltex breeders, who are obviously impressed with the traits of the Blue Texel breed.”
One Scottish couple whose passion for Blue Texels has helped promote and develop the breed is David and Jennifer Alexander, who run the Millside flock near Mauchline, in Ayrshire.
The 60-ewe flock is one of the largest and oldest in the Blue Texel UK flock book and its breeding features in many other flocks across the country.
Last year, the couple sold a total of 53 breeding rams, mostly to commercial flocks, and 21 gimmers of which eight were in-lamb to average £1,995. Mrs Alexander also sells fleeces nationwide.
Mr Alexander said: “My motto has always been that if a pedigree breed is no use to the commercial man, then it is no use to me.
“The Blue Texel breed is vastly selling itself in the pedigree world but it also has a place in the commercial sheep industry because it has the carcase quality combined with ease of lambing, ease of handling and great mothering ability.”
He said a lot of farmers were now tupping the Blue Texel to hoggs and gimmers so that they could have an easier lambing with younger sheep.
Mr Alexander added: “More farmers are tupping hoggs now to get another year out them of them because breeding sheep have been so dear to buy.
“Nobody wants more work at lambing time so a lot are using the Blue Texel over hoggs and gimmers to get the first crop of lambs out easily and up on their feet quickly.
“The rams can be crossed well with any other type of female and more than 90% of the lambs born will be white.”