Healy who farms outside Millstreet, Co. Cork knows what he wants when it comes to sheep farming. In a recent interview he outlines the many advantages of using Texel rams on his flock of 254 ewes which he runs on his all sheep farm that rises to a height of 1100 feet above sea level
The flock is run on 58 acres owned and 15 acres rented. The ewes start lambing on the 18th March and 90% of the lambing takes place within 17 days. Ewes are housed before lambing and, 4 – 5 days after lambing, they turned out to the fields. All triplet ewe lambs are marked at birth and when lamb sales start in August, if any of these marked ewe lambs are in the first or second draw, they are the ones that are retained for breeding Two years ago was Connies first time to retain Texel X ewe lambs and, from his experience so far, they make excellent mothers and their lamb crop is as good as the rest of the flock averaging two lambs each in 2008/2009.
Taking place each year, from August to December, selling to a local butcher in Macroom, Michael Twomey, who accepts lambs up to 25kg carcass weight which Michael states is the beauty about Texel X lambs. They have excellent muscling and do not go over fat at high weights.
When Connie goes about buying his Texel rams, he has two options. First is his local Texel Sheep Society Sale which is held in Miltown, Co. Kerry and second is a visit to some local pedigree Texel breeders to buy his rams privately. In the last two years, he has paid extra attention to performance, recording figures LMI with specific attention to the growth rate index and he feels he has been well rewarded by the quality of lambs born with higher growth rates than he was used to. In future Connie says “he will use the new recording figures from Sheep Ireland (Lambplus) which is in it’s first year replacing the old LMI scheme. You can judge the ram for shape, muscling and correctness but it’s great to have the figures to let you know how his progeny will perform on the ground when you are buying rams”.
MAJOR ADVANTAGE OF USING TEXEL RAMS
•lambs have a great will to live, suckling quickly after birth, and they can handle harsh weather conditions like the spring of 2009. Hardiness: Texel cross
•cross lambs finish as quick as any other breeds. Excellent thrivers: Texel
•lambs remain a lot cleaner through out their lives compared to other breeds on the farm. Clean Lambs: Texel cross
•ewes make excellent mothers and also have a good litter size when compared to other ewe breeds on the farm. Super mothers: Texel cross
hardiness and the higher prices that can be obtained for their leanness and excellent muscling” according to Connie.
Connie runs a flock of Suffolk
X and Belclare X ewes, these ewes would also have some mountain cross (scotch) in their breeding also. Three years ago he decided to use Texel rams on his flock to see if the lambs were any hardier at birth han the breeds he was already using. He could not believe his luck when the first crop of Texel lambs were born on his farm. They were up and suckling a lot quicker than he was used to, and also, after turn out to the fields, which takes place usually around 4 days of age, the survival rate of the Texel X lambs outside this year was 100%, even at suck heights above sea level.