COLD STREAM RANCH TEXELS

Authors Mels and Ruthanne Van der Laan
Page 2 of 2

Rinus is a judge and one of the top breeders in The Netherlands, he has worked on improving the breed for well over 40 years. Once I met with him and his wife Matty, things started happening for me, my vision of owing Dutch Texels would become a reality. He had the means and the knowledge to deliver embryos to Canada, Rinus suggested I import embryos and get the "Texelaars" into my home province of Ontario. He had sent embryos over before and told me that some of his sheep were in Stayner; the sheep were co-owned by himself, Allan and Lugenball from the USA.

I reunited with Rinus after making a trip to the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, Rinus and myself visited the farm in Stayner where his Texels resided, from there we brought back two Dutch Texel rams (two bloodlines) to my ranch, this was the beginning for me and my wife Ruthanne, shortly thereafter 80 embryos arrived at Toronto International Airport. Rinus suggested I make contact with Paul Cardyn a veterinarian from Quebec, he had spoken with Paul a number of times in the past. The 80 embryos were divided and 40 embryos were transferred to our commercial ewes in the spring of 1996. Paul and his partner from the Coatcook clinic in Quebec came to our ranch in Ontario to do the embryo transfers (ET). Of the 40 embryos, 19 live lambs were born and 14 survived, a bit disappointing, but a start.

In 1999, importations of semen from The Netherlands, as embryos, were not available to import to our country. Rules and regulations had changed with Canadian Food Inspection Agency; we did this to improve our genetics and hopefully to produce a somewhat heavier and larger animal, without sacrificing the quality of the breed, "extreme muscling". We used the semen to artificial inseminate (A.I.) our own Texel ewes and did an embryo transfer as well, Brain Buckrell dvm and Chris Busbeck dvm did the procedures. This second embryo transfer was very successful, 20 embryos and 18 lambs born alive and raised for breeding stock. The third ET of twenty embryos produced 15 lambs and our own Texel ewes produced 12 lambs, this gave us a total of 45 purebred Dutch Texel and six bloodlines.

In 2000 new genetics imported from top breeding rams Diamond and Euro from the Netherlands. Again another importation of semen from the flock of Kees Kikkert's from Texel Island in 2003. The first few years we sold cross bred lambs such as Suffolk X Texel and Dorset X Texel as well as Rideau X Texel and several pure Dutch Texel rams. Due to import changes, nothing could be imported from The Netherlands; therefore my next purchase in 2008 was a RR ram with NZ genetics from Quality Sheep, Norwood Ontario.

Most sheep breeders are aware the Texel originated from the Island of Texel however few know that Texel sheep were brought to the United States as early as 1625 with Dutch immigrants,but the flocks disappeared due to attacks by dogs, wolves and bears. Texels imported from Denmark came back to the United States in 1986 after an absence of some 360 years, then shortly after Gordon Young and the Messings' brought them to Canada.

Some of the advantages of the DutchTexel breed:
  • Little fat on the carcass,
  • High dress out weight,
  • Better than average feed conversion,
  • Easy to handle
  • And very low maintenance.

The mature rams weight in at 190 / 220 lbs and the ewes' weight in about 160/ 180 lbs. I have marketed my own product quite successfully and have a waiting list for breeding stock and freezer lambs. While selling several rams to commercial producers, with comments such as: "There is less fat in the off springs" And "a higher than normal dress out percentages"; Plus "good prices at the sale barns".

In summation:

The Texel sheep is now considered one of the hardiest meat breeds, it adapts well to a variety of climatic and grazing conditions. The grazing capabilities allow conversion of grass into nutritious, low fat, high quality meat, keeping feed and labour cost low. The Texel is known as a seasonal breeder with a lambing rate of 1.8%, first time lambers seldom have twins however they are expected to twin out in the second lambing. Ewes have good maternal instincts and are good milkers with a quiet disposition, resulting in high lamb survival rate. Lambs are able to graze at an early age. They grow quickly, an important economic characteristic in breeding of meat sheep. Lambs can reach up to 45kg in 135 days. Owning a well established flock of Texels and Texel crosses has to be one of the highlight of being in the sheep industry.