Pig semen exports to China underway

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Frozen semen exports from Northern Ireland to China could amount to £150,000 per annum if the trade links forged between Bellaghy-based Deerpark Pedigree Pigs and a selection of farming companies in the world’s largest pork producing economy come to full fruition.

“We are the first Irish AI station to make inroads in China with frozen semen,” said Deerpark’s Robert Overend.

“As a company we have had a long standing relationship with a number of China’s most prestigious pig production businesses. Up to now the trading focus has centred on the export of live pigs, mostly Landrace, Large White and Duroc bloodlines.

“But, more recently, our customers have let it be known that they want to invest in semen. Due to health regulations, the product must be frozen. This option is particularly suited to the operation of our AI station.

“As far as I am aware we are the first business in Ireland to avail of this new trading opportunity. The first consignment of 250 straws left Belfast for Beijing six weeks ago. However, plans are in place for much larger consignments over the coming months.”

Overend said that the new business generated with Chinese buyers should total £150,000 over the next 12 months.

“A deputation of veterinary inspectors from the country visited Deerpark two years ago,” he said.

“Semen intended for export to China is initially checked by staff at the Veterinary Research Laboratory in Belfast. This process is repeated in Bejing. The time taken to complete these checks makes it impossible to export fresh semen, so frozen is the only option.

“We are well positioned to supply frozen product as our AI station is home to a unique semen store of boars belonging to all the native and traditional pig breeds maintained in the UK.”

Overend said that China represents a huge market for pedigree pig breeders throughout Northern Ireland.

“It is the largest pork market in the world. And it is one destined to grow ever larger, given the recent decision by the Beijing authorities allowing Chinese families to have more than one child.”