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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 05:54 GMT 06:54 UK
Sheep breeding firm's 500k boost
Ewes with the Inverdale gene can produce more lambs
An Aberystwyth company working to increase fertility in sheep is to expand with help from 500,000 worth of investment.

A gene found naturally in Romney sheep in New Zealand is being bred into UK breeds by bioscience firm Innovis.

Called the Inverdale gene, it boosts the number of lambs ewes can produce and ultimately farmers' profits.

Finance Wales, a funding body created by the Welsh Assembly Government, is providing an equity investment.

It means Finance Wales will take a minority stake in the company.

Innovis' breeding programme works by leasing rams carrying the Inverdale gene to farmers.

It then buys ewes with the gene from the farms and sells them on.

Known as the integrated sheep breeding system, it is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK and helps to produce leaner, well-muscled sheep with a better resistance to disease.

'Significant benefits'

Innovis is working with Catapult Genetics in New Zealand, which supplies sperm.

Innovis, which employs 12 people at its head office in Aberystwyth and 54 in all at five sites, hopes the expansion will lead to additional jobs in the future.

Managing director Dewi Jones said: "This new integrated sheep breeding system, and the work we're undertaking based upon the Inverdale gene, will have significant benefits for the sheep industry throughout Europe and the UK."

He added: "The funding package will enable us to take forward the breeding programme in our nucleus flock which will enable us to produce the number of animals which will be needed to meet demand."

Karen Davies, of Finance Wales, said Innovis was "recognised throughout the world as a leader in the field".

Other investors in the expansion include directors and staff at Innovis, formed in 2002.

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