Newport Mills launches artificial insemination and embryo transplant for goat and sheep

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

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Newport Mills — makers of the popular animal feed brand Nutramix — have made semen and embryo transfer for small ruminants (goat and sheep) available locally.

In a release issued on Tuesday, it was disclosed that the average ruminant farmer, who has a good management system in place, will stand to benefit from the introduction of artificial insemination and embryo transfer.

Since the local introduction earlier this year, farmers have reportedly been responding very well.

Gabrielle Young, Livestock and Support manager at Newport Mill, said that “we have sold more than half the semen already and overall, the response has been excellent”.

Artificial insemination (AI) is a common practice of breeding livestock and is much more common in dairy production. However, it is being utilised due to increased access and marketing of favorably proven ruminants.

Young, in a rundown of the benefits to be derived from AI, noted that such a procedure will allow access to superior sires (male goat/sheep), sires that are the top tier of any herd. In addition, superior sires also grow faster.

She continued, “That buck or ram that you use would be expensive and you can't buy him. Additionally, the owner will not sell him, but you can buy the semen at significantly less. Therefore, you still get the animal but at a fraction of the cost, hence it will be more cost-effective.”

She also pointed out that new genetics and new breeds can be costly and the animal could be tired and worn by the time it gets here. The travel clause also predisposes the animal to diseases, much of which will be eliminated with the use of AI. She, however, noted that for a successful AI or embryo transplant to take place farmers will require the services of a technician or someone who is knowledgeable about the procedures.

The results from the procedure to date have been looking very well, with rates ranging for 60 per cent for conception and 95 per cent pregnancy. Paul Sayers, a goat farmer in Old Harbour, testified that “he is pleased with the outcomes he has seen”. From an insemination done in late April, three of his four female goats conceived and is scheduled to give birth in October.

With several farmers utilising artificial insemination and embryo transfer, it is hoped that more farmers will join the mission to increase the production of goat and sheep meat locally.

— Kellaray Miles

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