Texel sheep running in the field

Texel Sheep Breed: Information, Behavior, and Care

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Though the Texel sheep breed has existed for more than 150 years, its spread worldwide started recently, reaching the United States in 1985.

However, its high adaptability and meat production quickly boosted its popularity to the levels of the Suffolk breed. It’s already the preferred terminal-sire breed in Europe, and many breeders in the U.S. are also adopting it fast.

But why are the Texel sheep gaining such traction across breeders? Let’s find out together in the below discussion on this fantastic sheep’s information, characteristics, and care needs.

Quick Facts About The Texel Sheep Breed

Country of origin Netherlands
Breed name Texel, Improved Texel, Texelaar, Verbeterde Texelse
Breed purpose Meat, wool
Mature body weight Ram: 190 – 240 pounds

Ewe: 140 – 185 pounds

Average fiber diameter 28-33 Microns

Wool grade (USDA): 46’s – 56’s

Grease fleece weight 7 – 10 pounds
Fleece staple length 3- 4 inches
Care level Low
Temperature Most climates
Temperament Tough, docile, easy to herd

 

The History of Texel Sheep Breed

The Texel sheep breed originated from the Isle of Texel in the Netherlands. Though its parent breed is unknown, Texel farmers had identified it as a sheep that gained weight fast without eating much.

That single factor encouraged breeders to crossbreed several sheep breeds to develop their characters further. Such breeds as Leicester Longwool and Lincoln breeds were crossed selectively until the Texel breed was created by the mid-1800.

As breeders developed the Texel sheep, emphasis was placed on the ability to build muscles of superior quality with a low propensity for fat deposition.

In the end, different regions developed a Texel sheep breed adapted to their climate but all having fast muscle development and leanness.

The most popular Texel breeds developed for the Europe meat market include the Dutch, English, and French Texel breeds.

While all share the primary Texel characteristics, the English variety is taller than the other two. In the U.S., the first Texels came in 1985 under the Meat Animal Research Center importation.

The Clay Center facility quarantined the breed and developed it for five years before releasing it to local breeders in 1990.

Texel sheep running in the field

The Characteristics of Texel Sheep Breed

The Texel sheep breed of today has wool-free white faces and legs. The face is distinctively short and wide, with a black, widely placed nose and short ears.

Their body size is between medium to large, and they have a well-balanced frame that is congruent to their body length. Depending on the breeding region, the Texels will have white or light-colored soft wool with no black fibers.

Other names used to refer to the Texel breed include Texelse, the Improved Texel, Texelaar, and Verbeterde Texelse.

Texel’s most outstanding qualities are its fast developing and pronounced muscles, long loin, and unique leanness. For every variety, the loins are strong and well proportioned, the stance is solid and squared, and the gigots are well-developed.

These remarkable qualities have made Texels the most preferred terminal sire for most breeders keeping sheep for meat. For instance, in Europe, the Texel rams are at per with Suffolks as dominant terminal-sire breeds, while it’s the preferred breed in the United Kingdom. Other regions such as Australia and New Zealand are going for the Texels to improve the meat quality of their sheep industry.

The Texels grow fast, with lambs gaining an average of 250 grams daily. They wean at 12 weeks with an average weight per lamb of 55 pounds, reaching 97 pounds at the slaughtering age of 24 weeks.

When well-fed, the rams attain a maturity body weight of 190 to 240 pounds while ewes gain between 140 and 185 pounds.

Though the Texels are mainly raised for their meat, they produce reasonable amounts of medium-quality wool. A mature animal can yield around 7 to 10 pounds of fleece, with a 46’s-56’s grading. Shearing is typically done once a year.

Typical Texel Sheep Behavior

The Texel sheep breed is hardy, docile, and adapts easily to most climates. The animals are curious but with excellent temperaments and very easy to herd.

Unlike other intelligent sheep breeds, the Texels don’t get excited quickly or get nervous and will usually keep their cool.

All Texel varieties do well in a grass-based rearing system. And as noted before, they have good feed efficiency, gaining more weight per unit of feed than most sheep breeds kept for meat production.

In addition, as with other hardy sheep breeds, the Texel ewe has excellent motherly instincts. Though the lambs are born with vigor and incredible will to live, the ewes provide enough milk and maternal care for fast growth.

Texel sheep are moderately prolific, with each ewe giving birth to an average of 1.7 lambs annually. Mature ewes have a 5-month long breeding season and come to heat for the first time at seven months.

If the selection of litter size is done correctly, the Texels’ prolificacy and lambing frequency result in high lamb production.

Texel sheep breed

How to Care For the Texel Sheep Breed

Texel sheep require minimal husbandry. They’re good foragers with little-known life-threatening diseases. However, you need to keep common sheep pests like flystrike away from your flock and do regular deworming.

Most of the time, your primary care will be providing enough feed, drinking water, and salt lick or ground salt. Texels will do well in open field rearing systems or under enclosed barns.

Texels in an open field rearing system will need a shelter to use in adverse weather conditions. And for hardy animals like the Texels, a three-sided cover works just fine.

The critical thing to note is you’ll need to provide additional feed like hay when your animals can’t get enough in the open fields. Also, installing an automatic watering system can save a lot of hard work.

The Texel’s body is adapted to withstand most climates and challenging conditions. Their black hooves are well hardened and rarely suffer foot rot. However, the ground is enough for open field animals to wear their hooves down sufficiently.

But it’s always advisable to physically check and trim overgrown hooves, irrespective of raising mode. Though it rarely happens, check for overgrown wool around the tail and trim it to prevent urine and feces from clinging to it.

Final Thoughts

Texel sheep are fast gaining ground as the preferred breed for meat production. On top of fast growth and food efficiency, their muscle development, meat quality, and leanness give this incredible breed an advantage over other sheep.

And the best thing is that they require minimal maintenance and are easy to raise for even novice sheep farmers.


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