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Stackyard News Dec 05

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Success For Swalex As Cumbrian Sheep Arrive In Estonia

photo courtesy of
mule ewes

This week saw the successful arrival of hundreds of Cumbrian breeding sheep into the Eastern European country of Estonia.

A group of four Cumbrian sheep farmers have formed a new Company, Swalex Ltd, which has been set up to find markets for breeding sheep outside the United Kingdom.

Assistance from the Cumbria Fells and Dales LEADER + Programme and EBLEX helped the group make contact with an entrepreneur in Estonia who runs a chain of restaurants and who wanted not only to rear his own livestock to supply these outlets, but also to contribute to the regeneration of the sheep industry in Estonia which has suffered massive decline since the end of collectivisation.

Chairman of Swalex Ltd, Paul Dixon, said: "this export is the result of 5 years of hard work. I have just come back from Estonia where we saw the sheep being unloaded and I am both delighted and relieved that this first consignment has arrived so successfully."

He went onto say, "we were awarded the contract because we were able to provide the Estonians with a range of sheep breeds that will enable them to develop their own sheep industry. The innovative use of Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer technology was critical to this as it allowed us to provide the Estonians with Swaledale and Mule ewes and also "terminal sires" of other sheep breeds including Texels. We hope that this will be the first of many consignments of breeding sheep both to Estonia and other new EU members.

There are many people and organisations that have helped us achieve this opportunity and I would particularly like to thank Veronica Waller from LEADER +, Henry Lewis of the British Livestock Genetics Consortium, Britbreed Ltd, our vets Barr & Lockart, Eileen Simpson of Rural Futures, Chris Stables of Cumbria Rural Enterprise Agency and DEFRA at Carlisle.

Veronica Waller of LEADER + said: "The Swalex group are now not just farmers, but have become consultants and exporters of breeding products. Farmers are being asked to add value to their products and what better way than doing what they know best - producing the highest quality of breeding sheep."

Henry Lewis, Chairman of British Livestock Genetics Consortium said: "I am delighted that the Swalex Group has achieved the first export of breeding sheep from the UK into the new EU member states. The UK has the largest sheep industry in the EU and we are therefore in the best position to provide quality breeding stock, advice and equipment to countries looking to develop their own industry."

For more information and photos of the Estonian export, contact Swalex Group Chairman, Paul Dixon on 078161 76795.

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