Texels in Quebec - The Calerotex story

Author Paul Cardyn
Page 1 of 3

Introduction

Having been raised on a farm in southern Chile, I could not see myself spending hours every weekend mowing the lawn on my recently acquired small farm in the Eastern townships of Quebec in the early eighties. It seemed only logical to do it in a more environmentally friendly way, my father having owned a flock of 2500 sheep in Patagonia for wool production, grazing sounded like a good alternative so that is how I started with a few Suffolks, grade ones first and purebreds shortly after. They did a fine job with the grass and revived what used to be an active farm.

When the Romanov breed became available in 1986 at the Agriculture Canada research station in Lennoxville, Gaetan Lessard, a client friend and I got enthusiastic about them and joined the bandwagon of illuminated breeders and put a bid in. We were amongst the lucky ones and got 8 ewes and 4 rams followed by another 8 ewes 6 months later.

Within five years we built a flock of 200 purebred ewes and exported Romanovs to Cuba, South Carolina, South Dakota, Missouri, New York, Florida and Mexico. The breed was so successful that within five years of it's introduction in Quebec the provincial average in commercial flocks had gone from 1.1 to 1.5 lambs per ewe! Thanks to the introduction of Romanov rams.

The Romanovs delivered as promised: they are maternal, prolific and nonseasonal breeders, their babies are hardy, precocious, with fine fibered tender slightly gamish tasting meat. All we needed was a meaty breed to cross them or their F1 offsprings to improve on meat output.

Having read about the Texel breed we decided to give it a try and in 1991 we imported our first ram from Clay Center Nebraska, the first Texel into Quebec, shortly before Trentholm Nelson and David Mastine got their 20 texels from Denmark in late 1991 (unfortunately there are no descendants of that import as the last ones seem to have died in a barnfire in the Saguenay ) . Two other rams followed in 92 & 93, from Clay Center and Aurora Texels in Vermont. There were also a few Texel embryos imported from France by Dominique de Gery and some by Martin Caron from Rimouski but to our knowlwdge there are no descendants registered from those imports.

The first cross with the Romanovs was very successful, we even produced the first lamb to get the top mark ( 15/15) at a carcass evaluation from a ram provincial test station in Nicolet , it was a Romanov Texel cross! I invited Mr Mike Fahmy ( geneticist at Agriculture Canada ) who had been the instigator of the Romanov import to show him the crossbred lambs wihout telling him what their sire was. He was quite pleased with what he saw and his first comment was: "this is the breed we need to improve carcass quality on the Romanov crosses" Then I told him that the sire breed was Texel! The F1s were bred back to Texels and so on working our way up towards purer animals ( 3/4, 7/8, 15/16, 31/32 ) The 3/4 and 7/8 ewes were excellent mothers, they retained a lot of the maternal traits of the Romanovs with the carcass q ualities of the Texel