Icelandic Volcano Disrupts Semen Shipments

The eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano has closed airports and canceled flights in Europe, leading to the suspension of equine frozen semen shipments at the height of the breeding season.

Jamie Anderson of Equine Reproduction in Berkshire, England, said that his and other companies are having difficulty getting frozen semen to clients.

"People in the U.K. were hoping to order chilled semen from Baloubet du Rouet (from Belgium) today," said Anderson, "but that was not possible because of the canceled flights. Luckily, we have a reserve of Baloubet du Rouet frozen semen in stock, and so have been meeting the UK demands that way."

Baloubet du Rouet, a Selle Francais stallion, is an Olympic gold medalist jumper.

The volcano under Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier erupted April 14. The ash spewing into the air has disrupted thousands of flights across Europe, plumes having reportedly risen to between 20,000 and 36,000 feet. Flights were canceled because of the concern that ash could get sucked into airplane engines and shut them down.

London's five airports have been shut down until at least 7 a.m. on April 16, London time (2 a.m. EST). Airspace has also been shut down in Ireland, France, and many Scandinavian countries. U.S. airlines were canceling some flights to Europe and delaying others.

Anderson said that his company had semen due to ship to France and Germany.

"Hopefully, the situation will be resolved shortly, and we will be able to continue shipping," he said. "Obviously, if it's not resolved, it will mean wasted cycles for mare owners around Europe."

Couriers cannot guarantee express shipping, Anderson said. He added that the flight cancellations are also delaying the return of
shipping containers from Ireland and Germany.

Initial reports from some U.S. companies that ship frozen semen have reported no difficulties, although the bulk of their business is here in the country.

About the Author

Tracy Gantz

Tracy Gantz is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She is the Southern California correspondent for The Blood-Horse and a regular contributor to Paint Horse Journal, Paint Racing News, and Appaloosa Journal.

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