Cattle farmers call for semen export rules to be relaxed to help preserve Guernsey breed

ITV Channel's Serena Sandhu reports...

Farmers in Guernsey are calling for the island's tightly-controlled restrictions on exporting bull semen to be relaxed, in order to help preserve the native breed around the world.

Guernsey cows are one of the most genetically-pure and internationally sought-after breeds in the world, but their future is uncertain as there are only 12 herds left on the island, compared to 18 a decade ago.

There are currently different importation rules for individual countries to prevent cross-contamination and Guernsey's artificial insemination centre does not meet UK or EU standards.

Ray Watts, President of the Royal Guernsey Agricultural & Horticultural Society, said the red tape is a "major problem" for the island.

"With the States' tight reign on expenditure they won't put money into revamping that which is a pity because genetically we are leading the world but we can't cash in on that," he said.

Farmers are now looking into exporting bulls to the UK instead , but shipping and isolation costs are proving expensive.

Guernsey cows were judged at this year's Royal Agricultural Show. Credit: ITV Channel

Jason Salisbury is a cattle judge at this year's Royal Agricultural Show. He described the genetics of the Guernsey cow as "unique".

"Not only are they pure but this opens up the market. This is a world market the island should go into and I understand why animals can't come in, but I don't understand why bulls can't go out and be tested as well," he said.

"That would open up a massive market and open up the Guernsey economy as well."

Easing the semen exporting restrictions would help the island to maintain the breed globally, ensuring that Guernsey cows remain on the island for decades more.

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