Click arrow to play video which shows inside the stud. State of the art boar accommodation. Fully insulated with air conditioning and probably the most advanced housing in Europe.
Rattlerow Farms has officially opened its fourth AI centre. Long Meadow, a new hi-tech 80 boar stud near Peterborough is believed to be the most modern AI stud currently operating in Europe. It incorporates the very latest, housing, equipment and laboratory technologies and once fully completed will almost double the production capacity of the company’s AI business.
The investment – currently standing at £600k – demonstrates a serious intention to become the UK pig industry’s leading supplier of AI and related technical services. The final development once completed will take the stud to 160 boars taking the overall cost of the investment toi almost £1 million.
Like Rattlerow’s other UK studs in Cambridgeshire and South Yorkshire, Long Meadow is BPEX AI quality assured and fully compliant with all UK and EU legislation. Its European AI facility in the Netherlands is also EU licensed and approved.
Unlike the other facilities Long Meadow has been constructed on a green field site, enabling it to be designed from scratch. This has allowed Rattlerow to develop specific livestock accommodation and handling facilities, bespoke environmental controls, time saving automation and labour saving methods, renewable energy and conservation techniques. and cost-effective waste handling and recycling.
What’s unique about Long Meadow is its premier boar accommodation. Although all of Rattlerow’s stud boars are housed in fully insulated and environmentally controlled buildings to minimise temperature fluctuations, by comparison the housing here is five star.
The stud has full air conditioning and air filtration to maintain the optimum temperature and provide the ultimate level of biosecurity. The pressurised ventilation system and 250mm (10 inches) of insulation in the roof and walls ensures a constant temperature of 18 – 20 degrees centigrade that can be maintained throughout 24 hours and in all climates.
“The key aim is to maintain health status and house boars in their optimum environment to enable them to produce the highest quality of semen,” said Ian Gillies Rattlerow’s Nucleus and AI production manager.
Health and hygiene are also top priorities. All boars follow an extensive veterinary protocol of isolation and testing prior to entry into the stud.
While the introduction of IMV Collectis, an automatic semen collection system will enhance the hi-biosecurity CleanFlow system that is operated at all the studs to prepare boars for collection.
Collectis significantly reduces the potential risk of bacterial contamination to the semen and also makes the physicality of semen collection less onerous for the operator. It provides a safer means of boar handling and management during the collection procedure.
Long Meadow’s laboratory has been specifically designed to optimise semen surveillance and processing. It uses the most up to date equipment and digitally enhanced analysis techniques to ensure a high quality product is consistently delivered to customers.
Ian Gillies together with Alan Moore, site manager for both Long Meadow and Thorney AI studs, have driven the internal design and specification of this new facility.
“All Rattlerow studs operate as part of the BPEX AI Quality Standard but the design, build quality and working routines at Long Meadow go way beyond what has been envisioned within these standards. Now the most genetically advanced lines that we produce can be housed in a facility that truly reflects their unique value,” said Ian Gillies.
Rattlerow’s joint Managing Director Adrian Lawson, a specialist in engineering, construction and building design, has brought together all the technical elements required to produce a single modern building that was acceptable to the local planning department.
“Building and lab design has taken considerable time and many drafts with some external input from our colleagues abroad before full agreement was reached.” explained Adrian.
All the internal metal work was manufactured in-house by Dan Smith and Willy Barry at Rattlerow’s own fabrication workshop. The building is currently being fitted with a 50-kilowatt solar panel system that will reduce electricity costs and be operational from early December.
“We are committed to ensuring that our customers are getting the very best in terms of the AI they purchase. This new AI centre lifts us above and beyond what European producers expect and allows us to deliver our genetics under optimum conditions. This is good news for our own farms and for our customer businesses too. It demonstrates our serious commitment to genetic improvement,” said Mr Lawson.
Long Meadow will produce semen from MaxiMus and OptiMus commercial boar lines. All the boars working on site have been bred in the UK by Rattlerow and have been extensively performance tested for fast efficient growth and high value carcase traits. These high-health, genetically superior sires will have a BLUP index that ensures they fall within the top 5% of all Rattlerow boars tested.