THE EARLY YEARS OF TEXELS IN CANADA

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

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  • We contacted Danish Agriculture immediately when we got the first news. They were emphatic that there was no disease issue but we were caught in a political mess. They advised us to get help from anyone who had political clout in Ottawa. The British Lab wondered what kind of game Ottawa was playing; they urged us to take court action. In a 3 week period we pleaded with many government officials, but no help was offered. Ralph Ferguson, a former federal Minster of Agriculture tried many approaches to help us but was stone walled everywhere. He advised us that there was no way to reverse the decision including court action. An Ottawa law firm advised us that we had a "compelling case" but they said we couldn't expect to get any financial award and it would cost us at $75,000 to fight the case because we had several European witnesses. I did get John Wise the then Minister of Agriculture to write us a letter stating what happened and to identify by number each animal involved. Our last offer to Ottawa was to allow a senior faculty member from St. Hyacinthe Vet University to draw blood on all 18 animals and he was to ship this blood to Allebix Corp. in Toronto. They would perform blot tests on the blood and would be able to give accurate results. We also stated we would not use the results in any manner to incriminate or embarrass Ottawa. We stated we would have a legal document drawn up to protect them. This process was to be done at our expense. This caused an explosion and I was informed I had 10 days to get the 9 sheep out of Mirabel and furthermore I was banned for life from ever receiving a permit to import livestock. When we took the sheep from Mirabel we noted there was no evidence of blood being drawn from them and all 18 sheep were in one large pen, the same pen from their arrival. We were not only financially bankrupt at this time but we had very little interest in continuing the project. We did flush the ewes once or twice. We sold offspring, semen and the ewes we had assembled for recipients. From the 14 embryos we had 8 lambs and one still birth. I felt responsible in great part for the failure; we knew there was risk with breeding in Sept.

We should have put a few commercial ewes into quarantine for short cycling so the rams could start working in Aug. Also I should have checked the semen at the time of breeding. We could have easily had at least 150 lambs and not the nonsense we encountered.

In the summer of 1989 Dr. Dave Armstrong attended a garden party for introduction of a new product line for a pharmaceutical company, he was told by a senior employee of O.M.A.F.R.A. that we were victims of a retaliation exercise against Danish Agriculture. Apparently they had turned back some dairy cattle for health reasons prior to 1988. We were asked by Danish Agriculture to verify the identification numbers of the sheep as they were submitting a complaint to the European Market Agriculture Organization.

In 1991 we shipped all the mature animals to Vermont; this was to satisfy Dr. Sheldon's shares in Nissouri Livestock. Some months later he was refused registration of the sheep by U.S.D.A. because Ottawa stated the sheep were illegally imported to Canada. The sheep were registered by Canadian Livestock Registration without protest and 3 rams had previously been exported to the U.S. without any protest. The letter we received from the Agriculture Minster quickly satisfied U.S.D.A. We were not able to find the source of the false information or why it was forwarded to U.S.D.A.

By 1992 all the remaining sheep had been sold. All financial obligations had been paid and all shareholders had been satisfied. We dissolved Nissouri Livestock and surrendered our charter. In spite of all the difficulties I am convinced that Texel sheep are truly an outstanding breed. One only needs to look at Britain to see their great success in becoming the leading meat breed.