A STUD farm in Somerset is shipping horse sperm in from across the world to breed top quality animals. The Mendip Stud, based at Bow Farm in Badgworth

A STUD farm in Somerset is shipping horse sperm in from across the world to breed top quality animals.The Mendip Stud, based at Bow Farm in Badgworth, also ships out the fluid from its artificial insemination (AI) centre so that breeders can choose the perfect mate for their prized horses.John Calder and Lou Talintyre, who own the 108 acre farm off the A38, attract business from as far away as America and Dubai with their unusual work.Lou, aged 34, said: "We want to become one of the biggest centres for AI in the west."Our foaling service is also growing at a phenomenal rate. We treated a couple of horses two years ago, but we had nearly 20 this year, some from as far as Dubai."We run our own herd of mares here and we have outside mares coming in to our stallions. We accept outside mares that come in purely for insemination and semen is shipped in from whatever stallion."We can also quarantine stallions so their semen can be shipped through the EU."The couple set up the stud farm six years ago and it is the only one in Somerset to have achieved the Breeders' Quality Mark from the British Equestrian Federation. Its laboratory has all the specialist equipment needed to breed horses and monitor the insemination process, using either fresh or chilled semen.To get a sample from the stallion, a mare is put in the teasing stocks and the stallion is encouraged to mount her.When the horse is aroused he is quickly moved over to a phantom horse, or 'barn goddess', which is made of plastic, and his semen is caught using a fake, rubber horse vagina with a cup at the end.The semen is then inseminated into a mare or sent off to another breeder via Equine Express.The centre's conception rates using chilled or fresh semen were 100 per cent this year.The farm also offers a foaling service, where people can take their pregnant mares to be monitored 24 hours a day before they give birth.It holds Western and English riding lessons and staff put on their first Western riding show last month.John and Lou have four stallions based in Germany and America, which compete with famous riders in international competitions and in September they are due to launch their own brand of horse food, TMS Gold.But the next big step for the pair will be developing the quarantine centre to enable them to ship more semen to breeders around the world.John and Lou have put in planning permission for another block of stables to cater for horses in quarantine and are hoping to develop that part of the business over the next year.

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