Bellaghy pig farm in big export deal to China
A Co Londonderry pig farm has won the UK's biggest Chinese export order for frozen boar semen.
Deerpark Pedigree Pigs in Bellaghy, which is run by brothers Nigel and Robert Overend, are preparing to ship the order this month.
The brothers will also be training Chinese staff in artificial insemination (AI) and semen handling.
A spokesman for the British Pig Association said: "Over the years, the Overend family has perfected the process of freezing pig semen, a product with which their top-performing customers are now achieving conception rates as high as 100%.
"Freezing boar semen to reach this level of performance has eluded the pig industry for many years, but the Overend family was early to adopt the process and has spent decades fine-tuning best-practice techniques for freezing, thawing and inseminating the semen."
Nigel Overend said: "This customer started with a small order of 100 straws in order to test the water. When they were confident they would achieve high conception rates, they moved on to much larger orders."
Semen from the shipments are to be sent to units which produce high genetic merit breeding stock for commercial herds. It's the brothers' third order to the same Chinese company.
Nigel Overend is married to former Ulster Unionist MLA Sandra Overend.