UK sheep breeders will export genetics the US
A new ovine embryo export health certification has gone live this week, allowing UK sheep breeders access to the all-important American market – following a 26-year absence.
Various breeds including the Suffolk, Texel, Charollais and many Heritage breeds could benefit from the new agreement with interest in their genetics on the increase in the US.
Sheep breeders in the US have been looking to bring in fresh genetics of some of the UK breeds since the market closed. The resumption of UK ovine semen imports in 2016 has allowed this, but the promise of embryos now ensures purebred sheep to be taken directly to UK flocks as required.
Around 10,000 doses of semen are expected to arrive in the US by the end of 2022 – retailing at up to $100 per dose. It is expected that 2,000 commercial embryos will follow, worth between $450 and $1,000 each.
It follows over two decades of collaborative work between AHDB, Defra, the National Sheep Association, the UK Export Certification Partnership and Henry Lewis from the British Livestock Genetics, who has seen this develop from the very start of the discussions.
The news comes hot on the heels of last month’s reopening of trade in sheep meat, which saw British lamb once again in American shoppers’ baskets.
AHDB International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said: “This is fantastic news for the UK sheep sector, following the recent announcement that British lamb is back on the menus after more than two decades.
"The importance of this agreement is huge, as many entrepreneurial UK pedigree sheep breeders have had an eye on the US market for some time and now, they are ready to take the next steps to exporting sheep genetics to America.
"The publication of the embryo export certificate not only brings a financial boost to breeders in the UK, but also affords ovine genetic benefit to our American sheep industry colleagues."
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