UK Genetics was set up in 1991 by Rob Wills, a Holstein breeder and farmer, to export semen from all the AI studs then in the UK at the time, including Genus, AI Services (Northern Ireland), Avoncroft, Scotsire, Somerset Cattle Breeding Centre and Dartington Cattle Breeding Centre. Initially very successful, growth came to a halt with BSE in 1996 and was, after a hiatus whilst the company focused on importing and wholesaling Holstein semen, restarted in the late 1990’s with sales to North America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa in particular.
Genus gradually acquired several of the smaller studs and the final one, Dartington, went to the wall in the middle of the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak. The opportunity arose to buy the Dartington stud and a small parcel around it. Rob brought together a team of vets and experienced staff to run the stud, experts from the cattle breeding and marketing sector to the Board (owners, thus “A” Shareholder) and raised working capital from investors in the industry who are still with us today as “B” Shareholders.
UK Sire Services Ltd was formed and purchased the property along with the necessary equipment and set out our stall as the only independent custom collection stud in Europe. We have a full EU Licence for both the stud (capacity 40 bulls including quarantine facility) and the store, 12 miles away in an industrial unit.
Having started with just 6 bulls and one 20 litre flask as our store in a garage, the present store now holds over 3 million doses of semen. Many international companies make full use of the independent nature of our core business at the Store to import, store and distribute semen on their behalf. They rely on us to provide beef semen from our vast choice of farmer-owned bulls from many breeds that we have collected.
The core business continues to grow with breeders and bull owners glad of an option to be able to collect semen from their bulls as an insurance policy or as a commercial enterprise to market genetics and earn ‘off farm’ income. Export trade has been vibrant and continues to grow with semen exported to 56 different countries. We now have 18 staff on the books at UK Sires involved with either the stud or the store and process over 800,000 straws a year collected both on stud and, at around 30%, on farm for domestic use only – this by a team of vets and contractors.
We now have a healthy domestic sales division marketing semen in the United Kingdom and are proud to act as UK distributors for GENEX, Evolution International, OHG and Natural among other partners. Thanks to our partnership with IntelliGen, UK Sires are now able to offer sexed semen from an increasing number of exciting young UK-bred dairy breed sires.