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“Easy Care” Sheep Breed Continues To Expand
In 2006 a group of 8 UK farmers formed SIG Ltd. to genetically produce Exlana sheep, a breed that sheds its wool naturally, is disease-resistant, and has outstanding maternal traits. After 14 years and dozens of genetic crosses, there are now 2,800 registered females in the stud flock, making it one of the largest performance recorded nucleus flocks in the world. There’s tremendous interest from producers in the UK and Europe.
Tim White, a spokesman for the Exlana breeding company, runs a flock of 800 Exlana ewes. The breeding company sells more than 2,000 ewes and 100 rams every year, all fully recorded and double-checked with DNA technology to ensure genetic purity.
White says buyers in the UK and Europe use Exlana rams to improve their own stock and gain profitability because Exlana sheep shed their fleece and don’t require shearing. They carry inherent parasite resistance, which reduces the need for anthelmintic drenching. Exlana breeders raise their stock only on pasture. “We have a high demand for the stock and we’ve taken on multipliers to keep up with demand, but there are still waiting lists at some times,” White adds.
Christy Willett is an Essex, England farmer who says her Exlana ewes are easy to maintain and they’re very attentive mothers who produce healthy lambs with little or no assistance. She and her son are expanding their flock to sell breeding ewes as well as market lambs. Berkshire farmer James Edwards, who runs more than 4,000 ewes, says if he had to use only one maternal breed that he’d go 100 percent with Exlana.
Another producer says shedding Exlana sheep are a “no brainer” because “we don’t have to break up our cropping routines to shear the animals and we eliminate the expense of shearing”.
White says the breed association has received numerous inquiries from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Australia about Exlana availability, but as yet no Exlanas have been exported. Any inquiries about Exlana stock, semen or embryos should be directed to White’s attention.
Contact: Farm Show Followup, Tim White (Tim@exlana.co.uk; www.exlana.co.uk).

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2019 - Volume #43, Issue #6