Texel sheep come from the island of Texel, which is located north-west of Holland. They developed there in the early 19th century. British bloodlines from the Lincoln, Border Leicester, Leicester and Wensleydale have influenced the Texel's development. In developing the Texel, breeders hoped to produce heavily-muscled lambs, with premium eating quality, simultaneously reducing the propensity for fat deposition.
Texel sheep are well known for their excellent carcase qualities, rendering the breed a popular terminal sire breed. There are celebrated for their lean meat yield and for the fact that their produce minimal seam fat on the carcase, which is ideal as this type of fat is more difficult to trim manually. This medium-sized breed is also characterised by rapid growth rates, with some lambs growing at rates of 250 grams per day. By slaughter time (24 weeks), some Texel lambs have achieved weights of 44 kilograms. Texel ewes have a five month breeding season and usually begin at seven months of age. They are also known to exhibit desirable mothering traits, with ample milk production.
As breeding ewes and sires, Texel sheep offer a myriad of benefits including prolificacy, good feed conversion, high libido and vigorous lambs. As prime lambs, Texel sheep ensure early finishing lambs, rapid growth, efficient feed conversion and quality heavy lambs. Texel wool is medium grade and mature sheep can yield fleece to weights of 3.5 to 5.5 kilograms, measuring at 32 microns. Their wool is suitable for hosiery yarns and knitting wools.
For Australia and New Zealand, Texels were chosen from Denmark and Finland. A flock that was bound for Australia underwent quarantine in 1988 in New Zealand, which incorporated a genetic selection program too. In 1993, hundreds of Texel ewes and rams were chosen for import into Australia to establish a base flock. A group of investors and breeders set up the Australian Texel Corporation Pty Ltd, and they oversaw the importation of sheep, embryos and semen. 1993 saw the first Texels to be born in the country and one year later, the Flock Register was created.
The Australian Texel Stud Breeders Association maintain and promote the breed within Australia.