Pedigree sheep sale live on the internet

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IN what is believed to be a UK first for a pedigree sheep sale, this month’s Scottish National Premier Texel sale at Lanark, on Thursday August 25, will be broadcast live on the internet.

The broadcast, via the British Texel Sheep Society’s website, is in response to “massive interest in the breed from both pedigree and commercial breeders across the UK and the world”, said society chief executive John Yates.

He said: “Last year we produced a video of the sale highlights which has received more than 8700 views on YouTube.

“The broadcast will be produced using a team of three TV production staff, with extra footage also being used for future promotions of the breed.”

A new transmission device is to be used that multiplexes signals across 3G phone lines, for maximum coverage.

A sizeable delegation of French Texel breeders will be among the foreign visitors at the sale.

Mr Yates said: “Texel numbers in France have suffered in recent years, with just 6,000 pedigree Texel ewes registered, compared to 80,000 in the UK. This decline in numbers is largely due to the breed failing to adjust to the modern market in France and French breeders are now looking elsewhere, including the UK, for potential sources of improved Texel genetics.

“It has been the adaptability of the Texel that has shaped its popularity in the UK and British Texels are now on a par with other breeds for growth rate – something the French have failed to achieve.”

He said average breeding value for growth to 21 weeks of age was more than 5kg higher in 2010 than in 1992. And in reference to last week’s claims by the rival Beltex Society, he stressed that the improvement had not been at the expense of muscle.

“Selection for growth rate has been accompanied by large increases in muscling across the loin, through the careful selection of rams, using ultrasound scanning.” Sam Boon, a Signet consultant, said: “Sheep that would have comfortably sat in the top 10 per cent of the breed in 1992 are now well below average.”