TEXEL SHEEP LEAVE SPARE TIME WITH ZOE
Zoe & Johnny Payne farm outside Rathangan in Co.Kildare. Their farming system consists of 300 commercial ewes, and a store to beef finishing system.
Johnny works part time off farm as a factory agent for lamb and beef. In spring he coordinates the purchase of Friesian bull calves for export.
The 300 ewe flock consists now of mainly Texel cross ewes. The Payne’s have found that the Texel is performing well in their farming system both as ewes and as the main ram breed. “Initially Suffolk and Charolais rams were used but after first introducing Texel rams we noticed that the Texel cross lambs were performing better in our system and we made the decision quickly to use all Texel rams on the commercial flock.”
According to Johnny, “We mainly buy our Texel & Texel cross ewes at the Hiltex ewe sale in Ballinrobe in August. The one thing that stood out after buying our first batch was their fantastic mothering ability, which allows us to get ewe and lambs out to grass within a day or two days of lambing. This reduces both workload and housing requirements at lambing time. It also helps to reduce forage and concentrate costs. We find that they were easy lambed, lambs are clean requiring less worm dosing and easily finished off grass.” “As a large part of our income is derived from producing high quality factory lambs as efficiently and as quickly as possible, we always find that Texel lambs grade very well and maintain a lean carcass with higher percentage kill out,” says Zoe. Johnny sees the benefit of producing quality Texel lambs as he finds that from his job as a lamb procurement officer and also in his experience quality Texel lambs consistently achieve the highest prices when they are either sold live in the mart or slaughtered at the factory.
Zoe, who comes from a non-farming background, is currently waiting on acceptance to do the Green Cert, and in her spare time her off farm passion is weightlifting. She quickly developed a passion for the breed and all things agriculture and decided to join the Irish Texel Sheep Society and started her own pedigree flock in 2012, Mountvilla Texels. The pedigree flock consists of 20 ewes. “We are paying particular attention to selecting flock replacements and select our replacement ewe lambs early in the year.”
Zoe, with their 3-year old son Rocky, is also pro-active in the management of the commercial flock.
“Since we moved to Texel replacements, the traits that they are breeding into our flock include easier handling at lambing, greater prolificacy and less fostering due to their great mothering ability. We also find the Texel cross ewes are better value as they out live other breeds and have a higher cull value. The Texel breed has greatly increased the flock standard and encouraged my interest and love for farming with the Texel.”
The Payne’s will be buying their commercial ewe replacements at this year’s Hiltex ewe sale in Ballinrobe on Saturday 22nd August. Stock rams are purchased at the Texel Premier Sale in Blessington where, with 250 rams on offer, any buyer is guaranteed to find a Texel to suit his or her budget.