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Indeed, it’s true: Texel has about the same number of sheep as inhabitants! About 14,000 of each live on the island. In the spring they are joined by thousands of lambs. Especially the young lambs who go outside for the very first time, are fantastic to watch. They frisk and jump through the pastures. Most of the sheep farmers are established at the ‘Oude Land’ of Texel.
Texel has its own breed of sheep, the Texelaar. Sheep farming on Texel is small and extensive, with a lot of attention for the wellbeing of the animals. Sheep farmers are especially busy in the spring, when it’s lambing season.
The farmers know fairly accurately when the ewes are to give birth. The gestation period is exactly five months minus five days after insemination. In March the lambing is at its height. That’s a busy time, because the Texel sheep needs a lot help during lambing. Also at night the farmer or his wife check the sheep regularly. Some farmers have a video system or even sleep in the stable to keep a close eye on everything. There’s even an operating theatre available for the vet in the form of a table under a lamp, in case a caesarean is needed.
After the birth, the mother is placed in a pen with her lambs to allow her to become accustomed to the scent of her children. After that they are allowed to go outside so the lambs can toughen. Sheep can take the cold very well, they can even go into the pasture when it’s snowing.
Is Texel’s for lambs, which have been rejected by their mother and are then bottle-fed. The sheep farm at Noordhaffel shows you how these lambs are suckled or how they drink at the “lam-bar”, a kind of milk machine with teats.
The first Monday of September is the annual breeding day, held in Den Burg. This event attracts both domestic and international breeders. They arrive on the island a few days early, to pick out the best sheep. On the day itself, a lot is going on at the Groeneplaats, with lots of inspections and negotiations.
A true must do: enjoy the lambs either by bike ride or on foot! You can buy the route either in our shop or in our web shop.