One of the most important factors to a successful breeding program is correct handling of semen. When breeding with fresh semen, scheduling the delivery of semen, storing at the correct temperature and handling the semen can impact your rate of success. Follow these fresh semen management guidelines to optimize your breeding success.
Scheduling the timing of delivery
• Schedule the delivery of semen to your farm to coordinate when the females will be in estrus or standing heat. Record the date that your sow went into estrus last time as this will help you determine when she will be in estrus again (21-day average estrous cycle length).
• Most boar studs only collect boars and ship semen on certain days. Understanding their schedule and the transit time will allow for timely artificial insemination in your herd.
• Pre-ordering your semen will allow you to reserve your desired boar selections to genetically enhance your herd.
Storing fresh semen
• Length of sperm viability is determined by the type of extender used. While every attempt should be made to inseminate females with fresh semen that is less than 96 hours old, if older semen must be used, there may be an effect on fertility. Talk to the boar stud where the semen was purchased and evaluate under a microscope to help determine viability.
• Fresh semen should be stored between 15° – 18° C (59° – 64° F), no matter what stage of transportation it is in. This includes in the lab in which it is collected, on the farm or in between.
• If the fresh semen reaches a temperature below or above these guidelines, sperm may begin to die (decreasing the effectiveness of the dose) and cause a reduction in shelf life. It may be difficult to maintain proper fresh semen temperature in extreme weather conditions.
• Fresh semen must be packaged, transported and stored so that the proper temperature is maintained.
• Most fresh semen is transported in styrofoam boxes. The thicker the walls of the styrofoam box, the better it will remain insulated. Included in the shipment will be gel or ice packs. They will also help maintain the temperature of the fresh semen.
• There are a few ways to ensure proper storage of fresh semen at home once it has been delivered.
– Purchase a device that will ensure the temperature stays at the correct setting. A fresh semen storage unit is specifically calibrated for fresh swine semen storage.
– Obtaining some warm packs or cool packs, appropriate to the time of year and temperature. It is important to remember that these packs must be the correct temperature before they have exposure to the fresh semen. When packs have reached optimum temperature, just add them to the styrofoam box the fresh semen was shipped in. Semen is sensitive to sunlight, so be sure to store the styrofoam box in a dark, cool area.
– When storing fresh semen, make sure to gently rotate the bottles twice per day to re-suspend the sperm cells. This allows the cells to get re-exposed to the nutrients in the extender.
– Fresh semen stored in this manner should maintain good fertility for a 5-7 day period.
– Overall, remember that semen is highly sensitive to temperature, and you should control temperature as much as possible during storage and handling.
If you have any questions regarding fresh semen management, please contact an SGI representative at 800.247.3958 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.