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