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Hermitage's New AI Stud Brings it into Top Ten

by 5m Editor
9 February 2010, at 1:25pm

IRELAND - Kilkenny-based pig breeding company, Hermitage, last week officially opened its new state-of-the-art pig AI stud at Callan in the county of Kilkenny, bringing the company into the Top 10 global pig genetics companies.

Irish Agricultural Minister, Brendan Smith, was present to celebrate this milestone on the journey of this low profile, but hugely successful business, run by Ned Nolan, and his dedicated team.

Hermitage are the dominant player in pig AI in Ireland, with a 75 per cent market share, and has also expanded rapidly overseas, with 60 per cent of turnover now generated internationally. The company has exported pig genetics to 35 countries, and, according to Ned Nolan, they are now in the Top 10 global pig genetics companies.

Ned Nolan told last Friday's official opening of the new stud near Callan that Hermitage employs 100 staff in 13 countries, with 35 employed full-time and 17 employed part-time in Ireland.

The roots of the business, and the genetics of the breeding stock, can be traced directly to two pedigree Landrace sows bought by plasterer, John Joe Nolan, and his wife, Lil, in Kilkenny in 1958.

Minister for Agriculture, Brendan Smith, described Hermitage as 'a real example of the smart economy, exporting genetics and technology at the cutting edge'.

Hermitage established Ireland's first AI stud in 1988, with 12 boars at their site close to Kilkenny. The company currently has around 400 boars in Ireland.

Three quarters are terminal sire lines (meat producers), while around 100 are for dam lines (breeding replacements).

The new stud is a state of the art €110m facility, with individual stainless steel pens for 240 boars, according to Irish Farmers Journal.

The company's AI director, Ronan Murphy, said that collection of semen is automated so that up to 35 boars can be collected per hour through six collection stations.

As well as semen, Hermitage exports in the region of 20,000 breeding stock per year. Russia has been one of the most important destinations in recent years, with Spain and Italy also to the fore.

Massive new units are being built in Russia - one Russian Hermitage customer has constructed ten 5,000-sow units.

Hermitage continue to expand their international production and distribution bases, with companies and franchise partners now established in Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece and the USA.

In addition to these international offices, Hermitage also supply genetics to Asia, South America and Eastern Europe.

The business model varies by market, with a combination of wholly owned subsidiaries, franchises, distributors and direct international accounts with key customers. The product sold can be boar semen, breeding animals or a complete breeding programme.

Across all their units, Hermitage have a pool of 20,000 sows to generate the genetic material for the breeding programmes in the various markets. This includes 6,000 sows in Ireland.