PIC and Hermitage move forward with new Scottish AI facility
PIC Genus and Hermitage joined forces last year. As we have watched the pig industry consolidate into fewer hands, it will not have gone unnoticed that the number of genetic businesses in the UK has also reduced over the past 20 years.
Last year, in a move to strengthen their positions in the market, PIC acquired genetic rights from Hermitage, with the two companies entering into a strategic partnership.
As part of the deal, PIC’s UK studs were transferred to Hermitage to be operated by a new business, Hermitage AI Ltd, designed to deliver added benefits for customers of both companies – combining PIC’s added value and Hermitage’s reputation for investing in facilities for the production and supply of superior genetics. It also means the partnership can leverage technologies and practices across more operations and deliver excellent customer service.
“This exciting new partnership allows for a more specialised approach to PIC’s supply chain,” said Hermitage AI general manager Simon Cook. “Hermitage AI will continue to invest in the latest CASA (computer-assisted sperm analysis) technologies for semen evaluation and preservation to deliver the best quality product and also to give access to the highest level of genetics.”
The week before Christmas, Hermitage AI re-opened a facility in Scotland, an addition that will see the company operate more than 2,000 boar spaces in Europe – making it one of the most significant players in porcine semen production.
The Scottish facility is expected to provide greater product availability and supply flexibility.
With 120 boar places, the Scotland site is part of an overall investment plan. Situated just outside Aberfeldy, in Perthshire, the stud location is excellent for biosecurity and distribution by its temperature-controlled courier network to Scotland and Northern England.
Upgraded boar housing offers excellent conditions for both boars and operators, who have a wealth of laboratory and animal care expertise. As such, Hermitage AI has developed its own processing system that produces high quality product, maximising herd productivity in terms of fertility and genetic value provided.
Aberfeldy is one of six AI centres currently supplying semen to the UK market. Like all Hermitage AI Centres, it is EU licensed and supervised by a centre veterinarian, whose responsibilities include routine health testing, monitoring and all relevant certification – in turn, they are monitored by the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
All AI boars are sourced from high health nucleus farms and spend a minimum of 30 days in an approved quarantine prior to entry. Here, compulsory testing (Classical swine fever, Aujeszky’s disease and brucellosis) is completed, while tests for PRRSV are conducted at entry and prior to exit.
Following negative results, boars are transported to the AI Centre in a designated trailer. All Hermitage AI Centres are surveyed weekly for PRRSV and analysed by an external laboratory.
PIC UK and Ireland commercial director Steve Furniss said: “Finding a great supply partner allows us to focus our resources on genetic improvement and technical services that benefit our customers. Genus, PIC’s holding company, will spend globally over £40 million in research and development this financial year, the majority of which will either be for the porcine business or for pigs and cattle.”
That genetic improvement and delivery to farm level is core to our business, as it is here we create added lifetime value to our customers’ businesses. Hermitage AI is an excellent partner for making that happen.“