The Netherlands have a long history of sheep breeding. The Dutch sheep population is estimated at 1.5 million spread over about 20.000 farms. Some of the more specialized sheep farms keep over 300 ewes. Most sheep are kept on dairy farms as a side-line, with ewes lambing in the spring. The activities of sheep breeding, multiplication and slaughter lamb production are all integrated on the farms. In the Netherlands, sheep are kept mainly for meat production. The profitability of sheep production is determined by lamb production, growth rate and slaughter quality. Over the last few decades Dutch sheep breeders have invested considerable amounts of money in research to improve the profitability of sheep farming. Through the use of rams with high genetic potential, much progress has been made in improving the functional conformation traits and carcass composition. In the past, the emphasis had been on economic mutton and wool production, but today the main aim is to sell slaughter lambs of constant, high quality.
Texel sheep evolved as a result of crossbreeding the Dutch polder sheep with several English breeds, such as the Leicester, the Wensleydale and the Lincoln at the beginning of 1900 Later, when cross-breeding no longer met the expectations, more influential breeders started breeding their own sheep. The result was a large fast-growing and rich-woolen animal. Today, as a result of efficient selection, the Texel breed has developed into a meat-type sheep of outstanding lean meat quality and has accordingly become increasingly popular amongst Dutch sheep farmers. The Texel ram is used for pure Texel breeding purposes and as sire in the production of slaughter lams in various cross-breeding programs in the Netherlands.
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- the world's most meaty mutton breed
- rapid growth
- excellent lean/bone ratio
- does turn food to lean meat and not to fat
- excellent mothering qualities
- produces predominately twin lambs
A grown ram has a weight of approximately 100 kg and a withersheight of approximately 72 centimeter. A grown ewe has a weight of approximately 75 kilo and a withersheight of approximately 68 centimeter. The Ducth Texel gives birth ones a year. Grown ewes produce predominately twin lambs. It is possible for a Texel ewe to get her first litter at an age of 12 months. The Dutch Texel has an excellent carcass composition. Due to their extremely low fat covering, lambs of the Texel breed can be sold over a long period of time with different end-weights, without any loss of carcass quality. Because of the breed's extremely high degree of meatiness, the carcass has a killing-out percentage of 55 - 60%. The body of a Dutch Texel is well proportioned with extra strong loins, a solid square stance and round very well developed gigots.
- two weaned lambs per litter
- rapid growth of young lambs
- maintaining good maternal characteristics
- further improvement of the carcass qualities
Over the past few years, breeders of the Dutch Texel sheep have, in addition to further improving the breed's meatiness, worked intensively on its growth, fertility and functionality. These efforts have resulted in larger, longer animals that can easily carry and raise two lambs.
The Texel sheep are early maturing. The ewe lambs come already in heat at an age of about 7 months. The breeding season of the mature Texel is nearly 5 months. The average litter size of the mature Texel ewe is about 1.95 lambs at birth.
Due to the ewes' good milk production and the lambs' excellent growth potential, an average growth of 300 grams per day is attained during the suckling period. During the grazing period of the lambs the growth is about 250 grams per day. If slaughtered at the age of 20 weeks, the lambs' average live weight is 42 kg (about 22-23 kg. dead weight). This weight can be reached only on grass!
The Dutch Texel ewe is a good mother. The milk yield of a Texel ewe is large enough for raising 2 lambs. The Texel sheep are excellent graziers and therefore easy to manage. This is also due to the good resistance to internal parasites.
Excellent carcass quality
The Texel breed is known for its excellent carcass composition. The carcasses on average consist of 60 percent lean meat. Due to their extremely low fat covering, lambs of the Texel breed can be sold over a long period of time with different end-weights, without any loss of carcass quality. Because of the breed's extremely high degree of meatiness, the carcass has a killing-out percentage of 55 - 60%.
by: Martin van Aken