The Texel Sheep Society is set to introduce routine genomic evaluations for its texelplus genetic improvement service.

Society chief executive John Yates said the society has, throughout its history, embraced new technologies to support breeders and increase genetic gain in the breed.

Yates said: “The adoption of genomic evaluations through texelplus is another logical step in the society’s and breed’s development.”

He explained the use of genomics and genomic technologies has been “central” to the society’s recent research and development projects.

“The knowledge and experience gained from this work over the last decade means the society is well-placed to use the technology for the benefit of all members, adding value to the breed once again,” Yates added.

The society chief executive said genomic evaluations “could help” to predict future performance more accurately than using simple genetic pedigree information because more detail on the genetic make-up of individual animals is available.

Yates explained this would allow “breeders to optimise the profitability of their flocks by informing animal selection and supporting breeding decisions”.

He said: “There are significant benefits for individual animals and at the breed-level from genomic evaluations.

“Using the process chosen by the society, all animals benefit from the genomic evaluation whether they’ve been genotyped or not, though those that have been genotyped will benefit more.”

“The improved accuracies for genotyped animals have knock-on effects, for example by enhancing their parents’, progeny, and siblings’ values, irrespective of those animals being performance recorded,” he added.

In addition to providing more accurate breeding value estimates and index values, genomic evaluations can confirm an animal’s parentage where genomic information for the progeny and at least one parent is available.

Meanwhile, a Scottish Texel breeder has won an award recognising his “outstanding contribution” to the sheep breed.

Solway and Tyne Club member Ewan MacTaggart, Castle Douglas, has been named as the winner of the 2024 Texel Sheep Society Spotlight Award.

The Spotlight Award is in its second year and is given to a young breeder who works to support their local Texel club and raise the profile of the breed in the process.

Other nominees for the award this year were; Caity Higgins, Bentley Ford and Wollascott flocks, Harry Griffies, Cairngryffe flock, Lowri Williams, Caron flock, Ivanna Strawbridge, Lynebrooke and Tamnamoney flocks.

Ewan MacTaggart Source: Texel Sheep Society

The award is open to members under 35, with the Texel Sheep Society clubs and Youth Development Programme (YDP) committee members asked to nominate members who they felt had made an outstanding contribution to the breed in their local area or nationally. 

Announcing MacTaggart as the winner, Yates said he shone out from a high calibre of finalists due to his in-depth knowledge of the breed and the society.

“Ewan is a fantastic ambassador for the breed and his commitment to Texel is second to none. I have no doubt that, in time, Ewan will fulfil all his ambitions within the breed,” Yates said.