The Texel breed today is a white-faced breed with no wool on the head or legs. The breed is characterized by a distinctive short, wide face with a black nose and widely placed, short ears with a nearly horizontal carriage. These sheep also have black hooves. The wool is of medium grade (46’s-56’s) or better with no black fibers. Mature animals shear fleece weights of 3.5-5.5 kg.
The most outstanding feature of the Texel breed is its remarkable muscle development and leanness. Research results from Clay Center and the University of Wisconsin indicate that Texel-sired lambs typically have a 6-10% advantage in loin-eye area when compared to American black-face-sired lambs. Many Texel breeders routinely scan loin-eyes as a selection tool and are finding 4+ square inches to be quite common with 5 square inch eyes appearing fairly often. Texel-sired lambs also show an advantage of one full leg score in these comparisons and less total carcass fat—especially seam fat. This is significant in that seam fat is much harder to trim manually during fabrication than are subcutaneous and internal fat deposits. In a trial comparing Texel ram lambs to black-faced ram lambs, the Texels required about 15# less feed to produce 60# of gain.
The Texel has become the dominant terminal-sire breed in Europe. The breed is also gaining in popularity in Australia and New Zealand as their production systems have shifted away from primary emphasis on wool to greater emphasis on lamb meat production. Sales in 2012 of semen to Brazil American (40,000 straws from the UK) show increased popularity in South America. The breed clearly offers an opportunity for the North American sheep industry to improve the carcass merit of its product as well.
Texel sheep have excellent temperaments. They are docile, easy to work around, and have a curious nature. They tend not to be easily excitable or nervous.
GROWTH RATE & SIZE
Due to the good milk yield of Texel ewes and the breed’s fast growth, lambs can gain an average of at least .55 lbs per day. At weaning (12 weeks) the average weight of the lambs is at least 55 lbs and their final weight at slaughter (24 weeks) is 96.8 lb on average. Texels are medium sized sheep with ewes weighing 150 - 200 pounds. They are easy keeping, easy fleshing animals that thrive on grass. Our British bred Texels demonstrate weight gains of 0.8+ lbs/ day until about 90 days of age.
The length of the breeding season of mature Texel ewes is nearly 5 months. The Texel ewes comes in heat for the first time at about 7 months of age. Of importance is the total annual lamb production of the ewe, a combined effect of prolificacy and lambing frequency. Selection for litter size has resulted in a high rate of lamb production. Texel ewes are excellent mothers and provide a high yield of milk for their lambs.