THE EARLY YEARS OF TEXELS IN CANADA

Authors Gordon and Reta Young- Thorndale, Ontario, Canada.

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My earliest recollection of Texels was in the late 1960's when I stumbled onto an article in a British faun journal. It was a report on feeding grass silage and the Texels stood out from the other breeds that were involved. Over the next few years of doing literature searches I became convinced that Texels deserved a place in the Canadian sheep industry. In the early 1970's I approached Agriculture Canada about the possibilities of importing live Texels From Europe. They didn't laugh but they made it very clear that it could never happen.

Sometime in the early 1970's I met Dr. David Armstrong who had recently returned to Canada from Harvard University. David grew up in Eastern Ontario on a dairy farm and had excelled in his academic education and joined Harvard University research organization at a very young age. Over a period of 13 years he went on to a very distinguished career on the world stage. His return to Canada was driven by an offer of a senior position at Western University (U.W.O.) to establish a world class medical research program U.W.O. did not have a large animal research facilities and I arranged for David to use our farm and sheep flock for experimentation. This project expanded during the 70's and David joined the faculty at the University of Adelaide in Australia on a half time basis. This allowed him to carry on research in natural breeding seasons in both the northern and southern hemispheres. We also had daily contact with developments in sheep breeding from Australia. David applied for and received a huge research grant from the Medical Research Council of Canada and this meant his staff would grow and he would need expanded research facilities.

I became an official research station and we built surgery and laboratory facilities along with new animal care facilities. I left my employment at Fanshawe College and became a member of the U.W.O. research team. All the experimentation in reproduction physiology, although it was performed on sheep, goats and cattle was aimed at human applications. In order to keep this account as brief as possible I will record the happenings in point form.

1975 1980
  • Use of laparoscope in inseminating ewes and does.
  • Trials of freezing semen and embryos.
  • Trials on flushing embryos using differing hormone applications.
  • Visited England and had opportunity to see Texels and discuss performance.
  • Discussed Texels with prominent Suffolk breeder . He predicted Texel would disappear from Britain within 10 years.
  • Constructed new building -- housing surgery, laboratory and animal care.
  • Dr. Armstrong was publishing many papers on his work both in Canada and Australia.