8 March 1996

France No 3 at exporting

THE French breeding industry accounts for 10% of the breeding animals, semen and embryos exported around the world, ranking it as the third largest exporter after the US and Netherlands. It is a global market worth £58m.

Last year breeders and breeding companies sold 60,000 head of stock for £51.3m, 1.2m doses of cattle semen valued at £7.1m and 2000 embryos.

Their new target is Eastern European countries which are crying out for breeding stock to fuel their own sustainable agricultural industry. Countries such as Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary have started importing Holstein Friesian, Charolais and Limousin cattle. Sheep breeds exported include the Charollais, Ile de France, Berrichon du Cher and Texel. They will only accept stock with extensive performance data.

Little ministry funding is secured for genetic research as the industry feels it is now paying for itself through exports. This is not true of the pig sector which receives £1.2m a year in funding.

Researchers are trying to find the correct level of leanness in pigs. "Ten years ago they were too fat and now they are too lean," said Jose Ruiz of the ministry of agriculture.

"We are also trying to improve prolificacy from 20 piglets a sow to 26."

France exported £58m worth of livestock genetics last year. This included 60,000 head of stock, 1.2m doses of cattle semen and 2000 embryos.