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Sperm bank for pigeons takes off in Belgium
BRUSSELS, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Vets in Belgium have opened a sperm bank to boost reproduction among naturally monogamous racing pigeons, a Belgian newspaper reported on Thursday.

Rudi Hendrikx, a co-founder of the pigeon fertility centre in Maasmechelen in eastern Belgium, said artificially inseminating pigeons could boost reproduction rates using a process which was 80 percent successful and animal-friendly, the newspaper De Morgen reported.

"The method in which the sperm is retrieved is a house secret," Hendrikx was quoted as saying.

"One round of insemination costs 5,000 francs ($123.1), and if no offspring are produced there is no charge," he said.

"By comparison the cost of one offspring of a top pigeon is already 20,000 francs ($492.4)."

The sperm of one male racing pigeon can be used to fertilise about 10 females, he explained. A male pigeon takes on average one month to produce two offspring.

Hendrikx hopes to expand the centre to include a bank of frozen sperm from about 200 pigeons, the paper said.

($1=40.62 Belgian Franc)

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