A €15,000 artificial insemination station that will initially hold 15 stud boars has been commissioned in Malta by KIM, the cooperative representing the island’s entire pig industry. The aim of the project is to increase the quality and productivity of the national pig herd by breeding great-grandparents and grandparents in a nucleus herd. These will supply replacement breeding stock for the country’s 5,500 sows.

UK pig genetics company ACMC Ltd. will supply Vantage Ultra stock boars for the new station, and artificial insemination specialists Rotech Livestock Equipment have provided equipment that will enable each stud to produce 200 doses of semen a day. The Maltese cooperative wants a leaner pig with white skin and is currently importing semen from ACMC, according to the company.

Many of the island’s 160 or so pig farmers have just 12 to 50 sows and are expecting improvements from inseminating sows with fresh semen of known fertility, particularly during the hot summer months. The laboratory will be temperature controlled and semen will be delivered daily, since many small farms are not able to keep semen at the required 17C.

Currently, only 2.5% of the national herd is served by artificial insemination, but the plan is to increase this to 10% initially with the eventual aim of achieving a rate of 80% or more, according to ACMC.