PLANS have been approved by Fife Council for ‘advanced sheep reproduction’ at a site at Fordell Firs.

The centre near Hillend, which will be run by 3 Bridges Vets, will also provide year round farm veterinary services.

In a planning statement the firm’s director, Dr Hannah McKerrow, explained: “3 Bridges Vets will offer advanced sheep reproductive services including semen collection, analysis and processing, laparoscopic artificial insemination, multiple ovulation embryo collection and transfer services.

"These services allow genetic gains within the sheep flock, improvement of overall flock reproductive potential and efficiency, and preservation of valuable livestock genetics.

“As well as allowing the export of sheep genetics via embryos and semen worldwide.”

Fife Council agreed the change of use for the site, from a disused agricultural building to an ‘advanced sheep reproduction and veterinary centre’.

Dr McKerrow said: “This is a very specialist veterinary field with only two other companies based in Scotland providing this service. Both companies offer only sheep breeding services and thus due to the seasonal nature of this work they either close or reduce the workforce significantly over Spring / summertime.

“Given the specialist nature of the work, training required and investment into our employees, we want to ensure we retain these highly trained individuals year-round, providing full time employment for our employees and thus ensuring that they in turn have employment security.

“Further to this our sheep clients will require veterinary input into their farms year-round and we wish to provide this complete package of care. Providing farm veterinary services year-round allows us to offer full time employment to our veterinary staff required for our sheep reproductive services.”

The centre is located in an existing agricultural building. There are 15 parking spaces.

A council report said: “The agent contends that sheep coming to the site, whilst in relatively small numbers, is appropriate to a rural setting, location of such a facility within a business or industrial setting being incompatible in terms of animal welfare and animal stress.”

The agent for 3 Bridges had added: “The embryo transfer and AI operation is akin to an outpatient procedure. It is still surgical, but effectively sheep come in on the day of the procedure and then depart. As it is surgery by way of implantation you need the animal to the present.

“For surgery the animal is placed in a special cradle to assist in holding and orientation for the surgical process.”

Work on the centre was completed in January and full planning approval has now been given on condition that it is used as a joint advanced sheep reproduction and veterinary centre and not solely as a vets, adequate parking and vehicular access arrangements, it is close to the Fordell Firs Scout Centre, must be in place within one month.