Our GTCs – Gene Transfer Centres

We don’t just call our insemination stations “AI Studs”, we call them GTCs, and for good reason. The insemination stations are an important part of the entire supply chain, because it is through them that genetics are disseminated efficiently and safely.
So they are Gene Transfer Centers, or GTCs in short.

Hermitage GTCs – A New Standard in Biosecurity

Hermitage is dedicated to the efficient production and distribution of pig semen for our customers nationwide. All our boar studs are operated to meet current EU regulations, the Irish Pig Health Council Protocols and the Global PIC Boar Stud Management Protocols. Boars are selected specifically to suit customer and market requirements.
The cornerstones of our business are Health and Bio-Security Operating Systems, Quality Control and our Distribution Network. We have developed a world renowned operating and quality control procedure controlling all areas of AI boar management and nutrition, semen collection, analysis, cooling, storage, dispatch and delivery. Our dedicated professional team provide expertise in all areas of boar semen production and artificial insemination technologies.

Our Objectives

  • To operate the market leading porcine artificial insemination centres.
  • To operate with the highest Health Status and Bio-Secure operating systems.
  • To select the highest quality PIC A.I. boars to suit specific customer and market requirements.
  • To continually utilize the most advanced technologies in our operating systems covering all areas of AI boar management, nutrition, semen collection, analysis, cooling, storage dispatch and delivery.
  • To deliver excellent products and services to our customers nationwide.

Health Monitoring

Hermitage GTCs are approved under the European Communities (Trade in Porcine Semen Animal Health) Regulations, 1993 and SI 242 of 1993. These Directives specify the isolation procedures and health testing required for intra-community trade. In addition to our EU licence, Hermitage AI also export semen to many other territories outside the EU including Russia the USA and Asia.
All Hermitage GTCs are supervised on a weekly basis by a ‘Centre Veterinarian’, whose responsibilities include all routine health testing and monitoring at the studs and all certification of this monitoring prior to export of semen.The activities of the Centre Veterinarian are monitored by the Department of Agriculture for the Territory where the stud is situated and each Department is in turn monitored by European Union veterinary officials.

Quarantine Procedures and Regular Serological Surveying

  • PIC A.I. boars are only sourced from high health nucleus farms.
  • All boars are required to undergo a minimum of 30 days in an officially approved quarantine facility prior to their movement to the AI Studs.
  • In addition to the compulsory blood testing for Classical Swine Fever, Aujesky’s Disease and Brucellosis, all boars are also ELISA tested for PRRS.
  • A random group of boars, that gives a 95% confidence at a 5% incidence are also tested for PRRS PCR at the end of the quarantine period. Boars are only moved to the AI Studs once the negative results for all serological tests are confirmed.
  • Boars are transported from the approved quarantine facility to the AI Studs in a specially designated trailer.
  • All boars exiting the stud are tested for Classical Swine Fever, Aujesky’s Disease and Brucellosis.

Additional PRRS Testing

Random blood sampling of boars at all Hermitage AI Studs is undertaken on a weekly basis by the Stud Veterinarian using a statistical model for monitoring that provides us with a 95% confidence level that the stud is negative assuming a 5% prevalence. The samples are analysed by PCR in an independent external laboratory. Random samples are also sent monthly for PRRS ELISA testing.


Gesipor 3.0 and Magavision 1

At PIC-Hermitage we have incorporated the latest in specialised semen evaluation equipment and boar management software into our boar studs. These systems allow us to accurately evaluate seminal quality on all boars at stud at every collection, thereby providing all Hermitage customers with exceptional semen quality and traceability.

Magavision is a semen quality evaluation system designed specifically for boar semen analysis. This system allows PIC-Hermitage to achieve the highest level of quality in terms of motility and morphology in all AI doses.

The Gesipor 3.0 boar management software interfaces directly with the Magavision semen evaluation system. Gesipor allows all PIC-Hermitage controlled boar studs full traceability and quality control of each seminal dose produced from each stud.

Semen Extenders

Hermitage AI Studs use a market leading semen extender which is capable of preserving semen for up to 10 days when handled and stored in ideal conditions. Semen extender protects against temperature fluctuations, maintains the physical and chemical characteristics of the sperm, and protects the spermatic function.

Internal Quality Control

All Hermitage boar studs use a 4-stage evaluation procedure to provide AI doses of the highest quality for the end user:

  1. Semen is initially evaluated using CASA technology and diluted with long-life semen extender within 15 minutes of collection. Semen is then cooled to 17°C (+/- 2°C) in order to reduce activity levels and increase the productive life of the semen cells.
  2. One sample from each pool of semen is selected at the end of each production day. This sample is reheated for a period of 20 minutes up to 37°C, and re- analysed prior to dispatch as an additional safety check.
  3. Two additional samples from each batch of semen are also kept for seminal quality checks. One of these samples is analyzed on Day 1 (24 hours post- collection) for motility.
  4. The final sample is analyzed on Day 6 (Hermitage date of expiry) for longevity.

External Quality Control

In addition to our in-house QC programme, Hermitage also works with two external independent laboratories who test random samples from all Hermitage boar studs across Ireland and the UK every month.These two external labs are used to verify Hermitage’s compliance with industry semen quality standards, taking morphology, motility, concentration and bacteriology into account.

Hermitage Boar studs are monitored by the PIC global quality assurance team and are bound by the PIC global quality standards.