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Semen Management

The first steps in a successful artificial insemination program include ordering, receiving, and properly storing and handling semen.
 

Ordering

The following tips will help you decide when to order your semen so it arrives when you and your females are ready. Delivery of Semen

 

  • Schedule the date semen will be delivered to your farm to coordinate with when your females will be in estrus. You can determine this by recording the start date of the last estrus period and adding 21 days to it. Twenty-one days is the average length of the estrous cycle.
  • Most boar studs collect and ship semen only on specific days of the week. Understanding your supplier's schedule and shipping times will help you artificially inseminate your females in a timely manner.

Once you have placed your semen order, it is time to focus on the three T's of storing semen:

  • Time
  • Temperature
  • Techniques

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Storage Time

Successful A.I. requires that semen must be stored for a short as time as possible, and under the best possible conditions.Semen Extender

  • The length of time sperm remains viable depends greatly on the type of semen extender used. Semen should be used as soon as possible, if semen is more than 72 hours old it will not be as effective as fresh semen. Contact your semen supplier for advice. You may also examine the semen under a microscope to help determine viability.

Semen should be stored at 59° – 68° F

If semen reaches temperatures outside of these parameters the effectiveness of the dose will decline as sperm begin to die.

Semen may be hard to keep at the proper temperature, especially during extreme periods of hot or cold weather.

The bottom line is: Maintain proper semen temperature at all times. The following page will help you learn how to accomplish this.

Also remember that semen is sensitive to sunlight so keep it shaded at all times.
 

Storage Temperature

Proper storage of semen requires it being held at the correct temperature at all times including during:

  • Processing in the lab
  • Shipping
  • Storage and handling on your farm

Semen should be stored at 59° – 68° F

If semen reaches temperatures outside of these parameters the effectiveness of the dose will decline as sperm begin to die.

Semen may be hard to keep at the proper temperature, especially during extreme periods of hot or cold weather.

The bottom line is: Maintain proper semen temperature at all times. The following page will help you learn how to accomplish this.

Also remember that semen is sensitive to sunlight so keep it shaded at all times.
 

Storage Techniques

You have already learned that semen should be processed, shipped, and stored while being maintained at a temperature of 59° - 68° F. Let's see how you can maintain that temperature regimen once you receive your shipment...

Semen is usually shipped in an insulated (typically polystyrene) container along with ice or gel packs to help maintain the proper temperature.


Before you receive the package of semen you should be prepared to store it either in:
 
 
  • A device specifically built for storing semen,
  • A device, such as a wine cooler, that can be adapted for semen storage, or
  • A cooler with the appropriate temperature gel packs inside (or use the shipping box if well-insulated). Gel packs can be purchased at most grocery or discount stores.
 Make sure the storage system you use is at the correct temperature before placing the semen containers in contact with it.
 
 
 
 
You should gently invert/rotate the semen containers twice per day to re-suspend the sperm cells and keep them in contact with the nutrients in the extender solution.
 

Polystyrene shipping container.
Gel packs for shipping and storage.

Semen storage unit.

Periodically rotate semen containers.

 
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