UK Export to Tristan de Cunha

UK company exports bull semen to remote South Atlantic island

Red Poll Bull Fedw Stig

Red Poll Bull Fedw Stig

UK exports may be having a boom with extra impetus from the devalued currency, but there’s one company from the south west of England whose latest shipment is quirkier than most. Cattle breeding company, UK Sire Services, has just exported a consignment of native British bull semen to Tristan da Cunha – a tiny and remote volcanic island in the South Atlantic.

The consignment left Manchester late last year, was received in Capetown, South Africa en route, and made the final 2,400km (1,500 miles) leg of the journey by boat. From the island’s tiny harbour, it was taken by tractor into secure storage.

The semen straws included were from the bulls Albany Ludlow, a pure English Hereford, owned by Les Cook & Family from Cambridge; Fedw Stig, a Red Poll owned by John Williams from Shropshire; Gear Blue Moon, an Aberdeen Angus owned by Mark Pilcher, Director of UK Sire Services; and Morlais Dewi Sant, a Welsh Black owned by Hywel Davies from near Merthyr Tydfil.

The eclectic mix of genetics has been chosen for use on Tristan’s own mostly Hereford and Angus cattle where it is hoped they will improve their productivity for both beef and milk. The native British breeds have been selected for their ability to thrive on limited supplies of grazed grass and for their ease of management in sometimes challenging situations.

Neil Swain, who works for Tristan’s agriculture department, formerly studied at Harper Adams University in Shropshire and instigated the shipment, says: “We haven’t had a change of breed for about eight years, so this will bring in some new blood, and we can keep some bulls from our best cows for breeding.”

Mr Swain works with the island’s only veterinary surgeon, and the two have been inseminating the island’s cattle during the breeding season through January and February. He became an insemination technician during his study trip to the UK and says he is delighted to have received the semen shipment after a complex and tortuous trip of over 10,000km (over 6,000 miles).

“The advice I was given by UK Sire Services about handling and storage of the straws was invaluable, and I would particularly like to thank Tim Brook, Store Manager at UK Sire Services, who kept me up-to-date on the shipment’s progress,” he says.

“The insemination period for our cattle has now come to an end, so we await the confirmed pregnancies with interest,” he says.

Rob Wills, managing director of UK Sire Services says: “We thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of exporting to such a remote part of the world, through the authorities in South Africa and then by boat to Tristan.

“The fact that this is the 50th country or dependency UK Sire Services has exported to is something we are proud of as well,” he says.


Notes for editors:

UK Sire Services Ltd is an independent EU licenced business with one owned stud in the south west of England and working with one independent stud in the north west. Since the company’s establishment in 2001, semen has been processed from over 1,500 bulls representing 52 different breeds of cattle.

Semen has been exported by UK Sire Services worldwide, including to Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, St Helena, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the United States, Uruguay and Vietnam. There are orders pending for many more countries as they open for trade.

Tristan da Cunha (colloquially known as Tristan), is the name of both a remote group of volcanic islands in the south Atlantic and the main island of that group. It is the most remote inhabitedarchipelago in the world, lying 2,000 km (1,200 miles) from the nearest inhabited land, St Helena, and 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) from the nearest continental land, South Africa. The main (and only inhabited) island has a length from north to south of 11.27 km (7 miles).

For further information please contact Rob Wills, managing director, UK Sire Services Ltd on or phone 01364 661506; 07980 894660.