9 February 1996

AI move means cheaper semen

UK cattle breeders could see cheaper semen after the latest shake-up in the cattle AI business.

Farmer owned AI co-op Avoncroft Cattle Breeders has increased its foothold in the UK market with the acquisition of private company Herdwise.

The new business, to be known as Avoncroft with Herdwise, becomes the largest farmer owned and run UK cattle breeding co-op. It also ranks as one of the top three UK AI businesses on market share behind market leader Genus (claiming 70% of total inseminations) and alongside Semex. The new company is expected to turnover about £6m a year giving it what is believed to be a 10-15% stake in the market.

Avoncroft Herdwise chairman, Midlands dairy producer Philip Kirkham, hopes the move will strengthen the UK cattle breeding industry by expanding its young bull progeny test programme. The company plans to test 40 bulls a year, an investment worth £0.5m.

"What is important is that these are UK-owned and UK-based bulls," he says. "When we get a high performing proven bull the benefits will be picked up by our UK members through reduced semen prices and preferential access to supplies.

"Too many young bulls progeny tested in the UK are foreign-owned with our dairy herds providing a test bed for overseas AI agencies." &#42

Sue Rider