£400,000 of sheep embryos shipped to US

Ovine embryos thought to be worth £400,000 have been shipped to the United States, becoming the latest British trade success since Washington lifted a long-standing trade ban.

Advanced breeding company AB Europe said the shipment included Swiss Valais Blacknose embryos from Scottish breeders which are heading to Rolleston Veterinary Services in Maine.

See also: North Country Cheviot semen exported to US after 30 years

UK embryo genetics will benefit popular US meat-producing breeds such as the Suffolk, according to the AHDB.

Future shipments will also include Charollais, Cheviot, Dutch Spotted, Herdwick, Kerryhill, Teeswater, Texel, Wensleydale and Zwartble, according to AB Europe.

The company added that 8,000 doses of semen had been exported to the US since Defra’s Ovine Export Health Certification went live last November.

For 33 years since the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) scare, US legislation had blocked imports of British livestock products.

Geraint Thomas of AB Europe said: “This inaugural shipment to the US is worth over £250,000 and we forecast there is an opportunity for an estimated 1,000 embryos in the next 12 months, facilitated by export companies such as AB Europe or with US breeders approaching UK flocks.”


AHDB trade development director Phil Hadley said it was hoped the “major milestone for the sector” would be the start of another valuable trading relationship for UK sheep farmers.

The trade breakthrough required a collaborative effort across the UK sheep industry, involving the AHDB, UK Export Certificate Partnership and the UK government.

Phil Stocker, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, said: “This is great news for the sheep industry, further enhancing our reputation on the global stage.

“It is the result of hard work put in by the industry, government and AHDB, building on the wider export deal with the US, which is starting to pay dividends.”

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