Livestock breeders should grab the new opportunities available for exporting their world-class genetics, Jean-Pierre Garnier told a briefing at the Royal Show.

Mr Garnier, the Meat and Livestock Commission’s export manager for meat and livestock genetics, said there was a huge demand for UK breeding cattle, following the lifting of the EU’s BSE-driven ban on live exports.

But breeders should be looking outside the EU as well, he urged.

Romania had just lifted its ban and the market in central European countries, Ukraine and Russia was set to grow as these countries looked to rebuild their livestock sectors, Mr Garnier said.

“Not only is the market there, but I can sense the people want our products.

Last week the first Angus cattle went to Estonia.

“The Netherlands now exports 50,000 head a year, which is an indication of the potential opportunities that exist for good quality stock.

Breeders need to relearn the export mentality after 17 years.

They should think about where to export and what are the requirements.”

A bigger trade in live animals would also bring more confidence to the market for semen and embryos, he added.

“The market has been there for some time but it hasn’t really been exploited.

I think it’s a question of confidence.”

The MLC aimed to treble semen exports to 1m doses within five years, said Mr Garnier.

Setting a target for live breeding stock was more difficult, but between 7000 and 10,000 head of pedigree cattle had been exported, mainly to EU countries, each year in the late 1980s.

There were also good opportunities for pig and sheep genetics, said Mr Garnier.

“We could do much better with sheep – we have some of the best resources in the world.

We are also a world leader in pig genetics and the sky’s the limit with growing markets like China.”

andrew.shirley@rbi.co.uk