New AI Station Commissioned in Malta

MALTA - A new AI station has been commissioned in Malta, using stock, expertise and equipment from Britain. Funded by KIM, the island’s pig co-operative, it will initially hold 15 stud boars.
calendar icon 19 March 2010
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(L-R) Mr Paul Zahra, the stud's stockman/farm manager; Mr Bob Gornall, Rotech sales director and Dr Oliver Frendo, KIM's general manager and veterinarian

Mr Paul Zahra (left) and Dr Oliver Frendo at the Maltese Agricultural Research and Development Centre where the stud is housed.

The aim is to increase the quality and productivity of the national pig herd by breeding their own GGPs (great-grandparents) and GPs (grandparents) in a nucleus herd to supply replacement breeding stock for the country’s 5,500 sows.

Currently, only 2.5 per cent of the national herd is served by AI, but the plan initially is to increase this to 10 per cent with the eventual aim of achieving 80+ per cent.

The Maltese want a leaner pig with white skin and are currently importing semen direct from ACMC Ltd. ACMC are supplying their Vantage Ultra stock boars and AI specialists Rotech Livestock Equipment has provided a full package of equipment which will enable the stud to produce 200 doses of semen a day.

Both companies have provided advice and training and the project has been co-ordinated by international pig consultant, Brian Edwards.

“The Maltese consumer really values locally-sourced products and the new AI project will help them produce quality pork at a realistic price,“ commented Dick Oppenshaw of Rotech.

Many of the island’s 160 or so pig farmers have just 12-50 sows and — along with better feed conversion, growth rate and carcase quality — are expecting improvements from inseminating sows with fresh semen of known fertility, particularly during the hot summer months. The laboratory will be temperature controlled and semen will be delivered daily since many small farms are not able to keep semen at the required 17ºC.

The stud, located 2 km from Valletta, cost approximately €15,000 to set up.

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