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Semen Storing and Handling
Boar semen is one of the most sensitive spermatozoa. This is because the cell wall of spermatozoa is not as rigid as compared to other species. Thus, handling and management of boar semen are crucial in artificial insemination. Nowadays, the presence of artificial insemination center is being utilized for efficient breeding when it comes to cost and convenience.
Boar semen is easily damaged usually by temperature fluctuations and extreme agitation. The objectives in semen delivery are to maintain semen viability, maximize shelf life and improve reproductive performance of the spermatozoa.
Here are some guidelines for handling and semen dose management:
- Maintain storage temperature requirement
Storage requirement of semen should be within the range of 15-19°C (59-66°F). Semen in extreme temperature or above 20°C will metabolize, thus making it hyperactive and eventually lose its viability while it may suffer cold shock and die below 15°C.
- Proper storage equipment
A bio-ref or AI ref with a fan will ensure equal ventilation and circulation of cool air. Although most have a digital screen for temperature display, it is best to install or place back - up thermometer inside the chamber for counter checking of temperature. Yearly calibration and checking of the ref will ensure maintenance of the temperature range requirement.
AI ref must be large enough to house doses loosely allowing air to circulate between stored doses and must keep the door always closed with a minimal opening. Never exceed the container ’s design capacity and do not obstruct the fan.
- Temperature monitoring
Monitor temperature at least twice a day. Keep a temperature log book or record book. Data logger may also be used especially during transport and delivery. Data logger may be set to get the temperature for specific time frame and period of days.
- Proper delivery handling
Semen needs to be delivered viable and on time. Using a specialized packaging will help maintain its integrity. Insulated styro box may be used for delivery with a gel pack to maintain required temperature all throughout the shipment period. Doing trial on gel packs and coolants in relation to a number of doses and size of styro box is also important. For nearby farms, a transport box connected to car port is a convenient storage to use as it will guarantee to maintain the required temperature.
- Doses storage position and rotation
Doses in any packaging should be stored lying flat to a chamber or AI ref. This allows nutrient availability to the sperm and is important to protect semen viability and maximize shelf life.
Rotating slowly at least twice a day will resuspend spermatozoa to the extender. This will also prevent agglutination or clumping of spermatozoa.
- Usage of semen doses
Use semen doses as soon as possible. The shelf life of semen will not be determined by the claimed extension of the extender used. The length may vary depending on a lot of variables such as handling, extension procedure and even the boar’s health. Check semen motility upon receiving from a representative dose. Use the dose with the lowest motility earlier compare to doses with higher motility. Know precisely how much doses are needed and when to use it. Make sure individual doses are clearly labeled and identified for proper recording. Always check the viability of semen doses everytime you do the insemination.
To make the operation of commercial farms more efficient, buying from outside source of semen doses is an option. However, the buyer and seller have both responsibilities in maintaining quality and ensure the reproductive performance of the semen doses.