UK Sires helping develop Jersey Island genetics in Rwanda

by Rob Wills on 02 January 2024.

UK Sire Services is proud to be an essential link in Dairy for Development projects, managed by Jersey Island Genetics and partners in Africa, through projects funded by Jersey Overseas Aid. D4D aspires to bring greater profitability, improved health and climate smart environmental benefits to ever increasing areas on the African continent. Long renowned to be incredibly adaptable in a range of different environments worldwide, the Jersey breed has numerous highly sought after commercial benefits, such as heat tolerance, fertility, ease of calving, productivity, profitability, great temperament, milk quality and positive health traits. The D4D projects, across primarily East Africa, target many of these traits through specific crossbreeding programmes with native/indigenous breeds, with recent scientific research lending weight to the suitability of the Jersey as the ‘exotic’ breed of choice for Africa. 

Unsurprisingly the greatest needs for the difficult climatic and managerial conditions in Africa highlight the need for high fertility and robustness, defined simply as survivability, as well as the points mentioned above. Within Rwanda, it is being found that an F1 cross Island Jersey on the indigenous Ankole can increase milk yield by a multiple of 4, over the pure Ankole and, importantly, as a smaller animal, off the same or less dry matter intake.

The regular teams of bulls are brought to the stud at the EU and export licenced stud at Dartington in Devon where they firstly complete their rigorous testing in quarantine before commencing collection at the facility. Semen is then stored, initially in quarantine at the EU licenced store, ready for preparing consolidated and regular shipments to Rwanda and, less frequently, Ethiopia, Zambia and Malawi. The team at the store have enormous experience of packing and preparing export shipments and, by working closely with our Supervising Veterinary Officer and her team, completing all of the necessary and required documentation for each shipment.

UK Sire Services Ltd was set up in 2001 in the aftermath of the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak and have the largest independent bull stud in the UK. The company does not own bulls or semen but acts as a custom collection centre that adds value to owners’ bulls by finding markets for semen collected, both in the UK and overseas. UK Sires has built up an enviable and hard-earned reputation in the bull semen export marketplace. At the last count we have exported to 54 different countries worldwide with continual interest from many other countries every week of the year! Rob Wills, Director at UK Sires who, with Hannah Smith, leads the export marketing division, and adds that the company has collected semen from 48 different breeds!


Photo shows an FI (First cross) heifer by semen from a Jersey Island bull out of an Ankole cow in Rwanda

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