Sam Gordon, from Annalong in Co Down, is a well known Texel sheep breeder. Last year saw him win the Best Small Flock Award for Northern Ireland, a prestigious accolade bestowed upon him by the UK Texel Society. However, Sam and his Lindstai flock are no strangers to receiving plaudits from Texel breeders throughout the UK. He has been breeding pedigree sheep for the past fifteen years with the founding members of his flock procured from Scottish Texel breeder Robert Forsyth, the owner of the renowned Baltier flock.
Sam is currently managing a flock of 30 pedigree females. All of the ewes lamb in February and early March.
“My emphasis is on breeding stock with superior carcasses, tight fleeces and good character,” he told Farming Life.
For the past number of years Sam’s breeding policy for the flock has been driven by the combined use of artificial insemination and embryo transfer technology.
After what he regards as a faltering start he has found the use of embryo transfer to be a very effective breeding tool.
“My plan has always been to flush a selection of the best ewes in the flock and produce embryos using semen from the top rams available,” Sam continued.
“But until 2011, I could not get the ewes to produce sufficient eggs to make the process viable. That all changed, however, when I was advised to drench the ewes with a mineral and vitamin drench manufactured by Provita, five weeks before the breeding season.
“I took this advice and the results obtained were nothing short of remarkable. Of the two ewes flushed that year, one produced 25 embryos while the other produced 19 embryos. Subsequent to this 23 of the embryos produced were implanted into commercial recipients, leading to 18 lambs scanned.
“Last year. I flushed an older ewe, which had been imported from Scotland. She produced 13 Grade One embryos with 12 successfully implanted.
Buoyed by the impact of the mineral and vitamin product, Sam now drenches all the ewes in the flock prior to the onset of the breeding season. He takes a similar approach with all of the embryo recipients.
“The use of the mineral and vitamin drench has dramatically improved the fertility of the flock as a whole,” he further explained.
“This year the thirty females in the flock were scanned to be carrying 58 lambs. This included a hogget ewe which, when scanned, was confirmed to be carrying 5 lambs. Four of these, 3 ewes and one tip, survived and would not look out of place within any group of young sheep.”
“All of the ewes are drenched for a second time a month before lambing. This helps produce much livelier lambs at birth