AI, how difficult is it?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by kesoaps, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Being a bit bummed about the EF thing here, I began wondering if it might be feasible for me to just ship semen and do AI with a couple of ewes. I know it's become pretty commonplace with icelandic breeders, and after training they're doing it themselves. Also know a few dog breeders who do it frequently (no specialized training that I know of for many of them.)

    What type of advice can you offer up?
     
  2. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    when i looked into sheep ai i turned to a cow inseminator who's father inlaw and son raise sheep in our area . he was not overly enthusiastic with the results but he was used to a much larger animal. if you have a pig farm or a vet tech that has done ai show you the basics will probably go better than trying it on your own . have you located semen yet or still planning stage?
     

  3. eieiomom

    eieiomom Well-Known Member

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    Hey Tracey,

    I still have East Friesian cross lambs looking for wonderful homes, especially out your way to share transport costs.

    You might want to post an inquiry on Sheep Dairy group, there have been sevral names popping up out west and people who seem somewhat familiar with AI.

    I do know some Lincoln breeders who have used AI for breeding and were dissappointed with the results, especially considering the costs.

    Our Friesian crosses ARE the real thing :)

    Deb
     
  4. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    AI in sheep is very discouraging. The icelandics are lucky enough to be able to purchase a full dose of semen so that the ewes can be AIed vaginally. No other breed does this. You will actually have to have a specialized vet do it surgically. They put they ewe to sleep and inject the sperm into the ovaries (if I'm not mistaken) using all kinds of high tech equipment. I looked into it for my shetlands and was majorly disappointed. A pig, by the way, is the easiest of all farm animals to AI and I wouldn't recommend talking to anyone who does this since it is a completely different procedure. It is very different from AIing cattle as well.
     
  5. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Why in the world would it be so difficult? It seems like such a simple concept. Maybe I've just got a simple mind... :rolleyes: I may just have to check out the dairy forum, I do know they've been importing bloodlines as well. (It's just that they're so darned snooty sometimes!)
     
  6. eieiomom

    eieiomom Well-Known Member

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    I believe that sheep can be artificially inseminated via the cervix, or laparoscopically.
    This is due to their length and unusual shape of their cervix.
    Also, I think the success rate is highly determined whether the sperm is fresh or frozen.

    Yes, I too agree about the snootiness ...
     
  7. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    gotta remember sperm are guys !they don't ask for directions!with larger animals the inseminator can feel where to let the boys off for a short journey. in sheep they have a harder time letting them out near the destination and being sheep the sperm go every which way cause theres no border collie to tell them where to go!(thats the way the cow poker put it!! :D )
     
  8. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    Well, I thought I'd add some more info since you are still confused about it.

    Artificial insemination of sheep is a far more complicated process than what cattle breeders may be familiar with.
    The most widely used system involves minor surgery, because few human hands are small enough to manipulate sheep organs the way cattle inseminators do. So sheep and other small ruminants need specialized techniques and instruments, a service he supplies.
    "It's a costly, tedious, synchronization system that takes time, but that's what's available to get the genetics you want in these flocks," Gourley said. But the whole field of small ruminant artificial insemination is small, with only a handful of practitioners in the United States. Gourley was in Miles City last weekend to inseminate 59 Icelandic ewes belonging to Rex and Susan Mongold with semen imported from that island nation. A crew of eight helped with the complex process Saturday.
    He and Susan Mongold explained that each ewe had been chemically synchronized to ovulate at the correct time. Each had also been held off feed and water for 36 hours prior to the procedure, in part for surgical safety and in part to reduce the contents of rumen and bladder and make the reproductive organs easier to see and work with.
    The ewes are secured in a cradle that puts them on their backs. Their bellies are shaved and disinfected in a process similar to those used with humans. A local anesthetic is applied.
    Gourley makes two small incisions, about half a centimeter each. One is for the laparoscope, so he can see what he is doing, the other for the tube that will inject the semen.
    He pierces one horn of the uterus with the slim glass pipette on the end of the tube, and tell an assistant to "fire," press a syringe that injects the semen. The process is repeated in the second horn of the uterus.
    The whole procedure takes 30 seconds to a minute.
    The ewe's incisions are then stapled shut, antibiotic is applied, and a liquid bandage covers the area. The ewe is then released to food and water in a pasture.
    Gourley' advertisements claim a 70 percent success rate per ewe with the procedure. The Icelandic sheep will lamb in April.
     
  9. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    International experience has been that cervical insemination of sheep with frozen-thawed semen usually yields unacceptably low pregnancy rates (10 to 30%). The alternative, laparoscopic AI, is an effective method of insemination with frozen-thawed semen, but is costly and this limits its use. Welfare concerns may also limit the use of this procedure.

    Fertility, encompassing both pregnancy rate and litter size, is adversely affected by AI, especially AI based on frozen-thawed semen. Despite intensive laboratory studies, the freezing and thawing of ram semen still significantly reduce the viability of spermatozoa and make it difficult to achieve high fertilisation rates. The major obstacle to fertility in ewes cervically inseminated with frozen-thawed semen, is the establishment of a large enough population of viable spermatozoa in the cervix and impaired transport from the cervix to the site of fertilisation.

    As with any technology, production costs are incurred when AI is used. Costs include collection and assessment of semen, processing, freezing and storage of semen, delivery of AI, labour, and drugs for synchronisation.

    Vaginal: This is the simplest form of insemination and involves depositing fresh semen in the anterior vagina without any attempt to locate the cervix. Reported success rates are highly variable and this method is unsuitable for use with frozen semen.

    Cervical: This is a cheap and relatively easy method of insemination. The cervix is located, via a speculum fitted with a light source. The cervix of the ewe is convoluted in structure and does not dilate during oestrus. As a result it is generally only possible to deposit the semen in the first fold of the cervix. Conception rates with fresh or 'chilled' semen are good (65 to 75%) but unacceptably low (10 to 30%) if frozen-thawed semen is used. An exception is in Norway where mean conception rates of 60% have been reported (Olesen, 1993).

    Transcervical: This method involves grasping the cervix and retracting it into the vagina with a pair of forceps to allow an inseminating instrument to be introduced into the cervical canal. Acceptable conception rates (57%) have been reported by Halbert et al., (1990) but not by others who have tried this method. This procedure involves a high degree of manipulation and any resultant injury could compromise the ewes ability to conceive naturally. As yet, no data are available on the efficacy of repeatedly using this technique.

    Intrauterine: This involves a rapid laparoscopic location of the uterus and direct injection of semen into the uterine horns using a fine pipette. This circumvents the cervical barrier and radically improves fertilisation rates when using frozen-thawed semen; conception rates ranging from 50 to 80% have been reported (Maxwell and Hewitt, 1986). This method also has the advantage of only requiring a small number of spermatozoa, thereby allowing a more widespread dissemination of valuable genotypes. However laparoscopy has several disadvantages. It is an invasive procedure, requires veterinary expertise and is expensive in terms of equipment and labour. It is also possible that laparoscopic and transcervical AI may become unacceptable in the future based on welfare grounds.