British pig farm receives record semen order

The farm in Northern Ireland will send frozen boar semen to China and also train Chinese staff in artificial insemination

The United Kingdom’s largest ever order for boar semen is being processed by a Northern Ireland pig farm.

Deerpark Pedigree Pigs in Bellaghy, County Londonderry, has secured the order from China, for shipment this month. It is expected more orders will follow.

The deal includes frozen boar semen and involves training Chinese staff in artificial insemination (AI) techniques.

Deerpark Pedigree Pigs owners Nigel and Robert Overend secured the order with support from the Department for International Trade (DIT) and UK Tag, the export arm of the British Pig Association.

“This customer started with a small order of 100 straws in order to test the water,” said Nigel Overend. “When they were confident they would achieve high conception rates, they moved on to much larger orders.”

Conception rates as high as 100 percent are being achieved by the top customers of the Overend brothers.

Although their freezing process remains a closely guarded secret, the brothers are now in demand around the world to provide training in handling and insemination.

The most recent Chinese order for 2,000 straws will follow smaller shipments.

Semen from these shipments are mainly destined for Chinese multiplication units, which produce high genetic merit breeding stock for commercial herds.

“In many cases, the technicians trained by Deerpark are achieving conception rates far beyond anything they have had from any other country before,” says Robert Overend.

The most recent order to China is the third the brothers will have shipped to the same company and one of many orders that have recently been shipped to the Far East. Others include a significant order which left the U.K. for Thailand last month.

Further interest in Deerpark comes from access to rare and minority breed genetics the Overends have along with the standard commercially important Large White and British Landrace.

This stems from the fact that the British Pig Association and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust have designated Deerpark as a centre for breed conservation programs.

This means orders can also be filled for breeds such as Large Black, Berkshire, Gloucestershire Old Spots, British Lop, Middle White and Oxford Sandy & Black.

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