As the second largest producer of pig meat in Europe, Spain has the biggest breeding herd on the continent and Burgos-based JSR-eQ is confident of a successful year ahead, despite a gradual fall in the country's breeding herd numbers.
With lower feed prices, tight pig supplies and a good export market pushing the price per kilo deadweight to over EUR1.80 (US$2.45)/kg compared to the EU 28 at EUR1.70 (US$2.32), future profitability is looking promising.
Within JSR-eQ, which was established in November 2009 by Jose Luis Gento and Miguel Angel Cachafeiro, the main operation is the Program 8.25, which is an in-herd breeding system consisting of over 10 herds with more than 2,200 GGP and GP Genepacker dam line females, with a total breeding herd of over 22,000 females operating within it.
At their base in northern Spain the females are mated with JSR Genepacker dam line semen from boars imported from the nucleus herds of JSR Genetics, which stand in the JSR-eQ boar studs.
Cachafeiro explains, "We had been using JSR breeding stock prior to launching JSR-eQ, so it made sense for JSR to provide the original seed stock when we set up this venture in 2009. Now JSR supplies us with Genepacker dam line replacement boars for our AI studs, to maintain the link with JSR's genetic improvement in the UK and bring in unrelated lines.
"The Program 8.25 has basically remained the same since we started - it's just the number of herds wanting to join has increased. JSR Genepacker gilts are robust and produce a high number of pigs per sow per year. They also have one of the highest lean meat and best feed conversion ratios. These lines have adapted well to the warm climate in Spain.
"We are also currently working with two JSR Geneconverter sire lines specifically for the Spanish market - the Geneconverter 500 for meat-eating quality, and the Geneconverter 750 for yield of lean meat."
Cachafeiro and his team are maintaining the genetic management of the 8.25 program using JSR Select - a custom-designed genetic software program and database, which solves over 4.75 million equations per week to help improve performance and efficiency for its users.
Through working with JSR Genetics in the UK, Cachafeiro is confident he can soon make JSR-eQ one of the leading breeding companies in Spain.
"We are working with technical consultants, environmental experts and construction companies to try and establish comprehensive system solutions on our farms, so we can pass on good production ratios and financial efficiency to our customers," said Cachafeiro.
John Alexander, international key account manager at JSR, comments, "Having just returned from my first visit to JSR-eQ, I was impressed with the commitment and drive of Miguel and his team. I am certain that, together, we can work to grow his business in this very important EU market."