The UK has received its largest ever export order from China for frozen boar semen, in a deal which also involves training Chinese staff in artificial insemination (AI) and semen handling.
Deerpark Pedigree Pigs in Northern Ireland has secured the order, which will ship in January and be followed by further consignments over the months and years ahead.
The order has come off the back of extensive work on the part of brothers, Nigel (pictured left, preparing the order and below) and Robert Overend, who own the Deerpark Stud, with support from the Department for International Trade (DIT) and UK Tag, the export arm of the British Pig Association (BPA).
The most recent Chinese order for 2,000 straws will follow smaller shipments, in a sequence of events which is typical for the company when new customers come on board.
Over the years, the Overend family has perfected the process of freezing pig semen, a product with which their top-performing customers are now achieving conception rates as high as 100 per cent.
The Overend family was early to adopt the process and has spent decades fine-tuning best-practice techniques for freezing, thawing and inseminating the semen. The brothers are now in keen demand around the world to provide tuition in handling and insemination.
Semen from these shipments will be largely destined for Chinese multiplication units which produce high genetic merit breeding stock for commercial herds.
This order is the third the brothers will have shipped to the same company and one of many orders which have recently been destined for the Far East, including a significant order which left the UK for Thailand last month.
“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.”
Robert Overend added: “In many cases, the technicians trained by Deerpark are achieving conception rates far beyond anything they have had from any other country before.”
The British Pig Association (BPA) and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) have designated the Deerpark Stud as the centre for their breed conservation programmes, meaning orders can also be fulfilled for breeds such as the Large Black, Berkshire, Gloucestershire Old Spots, British Lop, Middle White and Oxford Sandy & Black.
In total, the company has seen a 300 per cent increase in its frozen semen sales over the past two years, a large proportion of which is attributed to export orders. The Overend brothers said the Department for International Trade and the BPA have been hugely important in supporting the UK presence at key global export events, including in Thailand, the US and the Philippines.
As a result of the significant increase in demand, Deerpark Pedigree Pigs is now undergoing expansion of its current stud and existing pig units.