A WHITCHURCH equine business has landed another world first in its industry by playing a part in the birth of a foal born using frozen sperm.

Stallion AI, based at Twemlows Farm outside Whitchurch, has provided ‘sexed semen’ – pre-determined sperm – for a filly foal at Whithorn Estate in Surrey, in conjunction with industry providers.

Tullis Matson, owner of Stallion AI, said the work carried out at the business rivals previous milestone achievements such as work in inseminating horses with fresh semen, its rare breed preservation and being the stud base for famed racehorse Big Star.

He says the work will ‘open up doors’ for the business across the world.

“This is groundbreaking,” he said.


“In the past the semen we used was always fresh but now we can freeze it and hold male and female sperm because we can pre-determine the sex.

“The work we do here is great because from a conservation angle, they want female so it makes a big difference.

“It was a huge milestone when we developed how to do it fresh but it was massively complicated.

“We had to have the mare and stallion in the same place but now we can freeze it as and when, similar to IVF, and it worked.

“We had the stallion here, collected the semen here and sent it to Cogent Breeding Technologies and then froze that down – it was quite a logistical operation as they had to take the eggs from elsewhere.

“They were sent to Italy as was the semen, then they performed the horse IVF – the embryo was sent back to the UK and placed into a mare.

“The mare then had a filly foal – it was lengthy process but it worked.

“It means now we can do more stallions, and different species, because we don’t have to rely on high-quality fresh semen but with this, you only need one sperm cell.

“Before it was complicated, but now we’ve proved we can do this then yes, it will open up the doors for more people to send examples in.

Whitchurch Herald:

“Pam Humphreys was the lab manager and organised a lot of research that went in to make this happen – she organised the whole huge logistics side of this.”

The work has even led to Tullis and Pam becoming academic authors.

He added: “There’s a paper [that is] being introduced for a conference in Brazil but unfortunately we’re too busy and can’t go though it’s really exciting for us.

“Yes there’s a commercial side but there’s very much a charitable side too with Naturesave and if we can show this on a commercial side, with domestic animals like cats, dogs and horses, then we can prove it works.

“We’re looking at doing it on rhinos and elephants – to do trials on these species is impossible.”