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The Ultimate Guide to Studs and Artificial Insemination

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Artificial insemination (AI) is becoming increasingly popular. But, what is AI? We’ve put together this handy guide to tell you everything you need to know about studs and artificial insemination.

What is Artificial Insemination?

Simply put, artificial insemination involves collecting semen from a stud and inserting it into the vagina or uterus of a dam. AI can involve using fresh, chilled, or frozen semen. There are pros and cons to using each of these methods, some of which have been outlined below:

If the stud and dam live close to one another, fresh semen is usually best as it has the highest conception rate. For dogs that live further apart, you may opt for a chilled or frozen semen sample due to its longer survival time during transit.

What are the Benefits of Artificial Insemination?

Artificial insemination is quickly becoming many breeders’ technique of choice. Some of the reasons why you may prefer AI over natural conception include:

  • More Choice: Unlike the hassle of transporting a dog, shipping semen is a relatively straightforward process. This means you can have access to a greater choice of breeding partners compared with natural breeding as you are not limited by location.
  • Increase Genetic Diversity: Having access to a global gene pool means a reduced risk of passing of genetic diseases to offspring.
  • Reduced Behavioural Concerns: Some dogs can act aggressively during mating, or may be stressed out by, or even disinterested in natural breeding. AI doesn’t require two dogs to physically meet, so you don’t need to worry about how the dogs will behave.
  • Reduce Spread of STIs and Infections: As physical mating is not required, AI limits the risk of a dog contracting a sexually transmitted disease like C. Brucellosis, CHV, or CTVT.

What Veterinary Checks are Needed Before Artificial Insemination?

Whether you choose to offer AI or natural breeding, it’s essential to check the health of the stud and the dam at a veterinary practice. Some factors that may be examined include:

• The sexual organs (ensuring no malformations, disease, or illness)
• The dog’s general health and wellbeing
• Screening for sexually transmitted diseases e.g., C. brucellosis

It is also important that the insemination itself is performed by a trained, qualified professional.

Semen Analysis

A semen analysis allows you to check the quality of a stud’s sperm. This test will tell you the number of sperm in the ejaculate, and how many of those sperm are swimming and normally shaped. Having an up-to-date semen analysis report is useful for many reasons, including:

• Allowing you to track your stud’s fertility over time
• Giving reassurance to the dam’s owner that your stud is fertile
• Monitoring sperm quality changes, which may suggest an underlying health condition

When to do a Semen Analysis

To get the best possible results from a semen analysis, consider the following points:

• Abstinence: Aim for an abstinence of less than 10 days before doing a semen analysis. A long abstinence period can decrease the percentage of sperm that are swimming.

• Repeat the Semen Analysis: One semen analysis alone isn’t diagnostic and won’t be able to give a full picture of your stud’s chances of reproductive success. Two semen analyses, completed 1-2 weeks apart, will give a more accurate idea of your dog’s fertility status.

• Proximity to AI: The semen analysis should be performed as close to the time of AI as possible as sperm quality can change over time.

• Sperm Freezing: Freezing sperm can reduce their quality. If you’re planning to offer frozen semen for AI, you should conduct a semen analysis pre-freeze and post-thaw to check how well the sperm tolerate the freezing process.

Collecting a Semen Sample

The semen collection process for AI is the same as for a standard semen analysis. In a quiet environment, where the stud feels relaxed, present the stud with a bitch in oestrus or with pads scented with fertile female pheromones.
When the stud is sexually interested, hold the penis and stimulate the bulb until ejaculation occurs. A semen-collection device like a collection sleeve or funnel system can help this process.
Dogs ejaculate three fractions of semen that differ in content and function. Only fraction two, which is milky in colour, should be collected as it contains the sperm. Fraction one and three should not be collected as they don’t have any sperm and may negatively impact the sperm’s quality.

Preparing the Semen Sample

Raw semen is too thick to analyse so will need to be diluted with a suitable semen extender. The aim is to dilute the sample until you have a concentration of 30-60 million sperm per millilitre of semen.

Semen Analysis Techniques

Semen analyses can be performed manually or with a computer assisted semen analysis (CASA) device, such as the iSperm mCASA. Manual analyses are typically inaccurate, subjective, and time consuming, whilst conventional CASA devices are expensive and not easy to transport.

The iSperm mCASA is as accurate and objective as conventional CASA devices, with the added benefits of being portable and available at a lower price point. The user-friendly interface means this device can be used with minimal training, making it the number 1 choice for vets, breeders, and other professionals across the globe.

Sperm Freezing

Sperm freezing involves mixing semen with an extender that provides cold-shock protection. The diluted semen is then put into a straw and plunged into liquid nitrogen, where it will stay until it’s ready to be used. Sperm freezing can be done at a veterinary clinic, or at home using a specialist freezing kit.

If you choose to freeze AI samples at home, you will need to calculate a ‘dilution ratio’. This equation tells you the amount of semen extender to use to get the ideal concentration of motile sperm in each straw of frozen semen. This equation can be tricky to get your head around, and you could decrease the chance of AI success if you calculate it wrong.

If tricky maths equations aren’t your forte, the iSperm mCASA could be the device for you. This handy machine can work out the dilution ratios for you, giving you straws containing the perfect concentration of sperm, every time.

Breeder’s Contract

A breeder’s contract isn’t something that necessarily comes to mind when people think about AI but it’s an important document that you might want to consider. This contract will outline what’s expected of each breeder, and how you’d like to be paid for your stud fees. The breeder’s contract should be agreed upon before any puppies are born.

Interested in the iSperm mCASA or would like some more information? Get in touch, and one of our advisors will help you decide whether the iSperm mCASA is right for you!


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