Testing AI semen
Laurin wishes she could get more producers to let her look at post-thaw semen quality before the breeding season. She had a producer bring in a tank to check semen quality because he was afraid that the tank had not been maintained properly over the year. “We thawed four straws, each from a different bull. Of the four, three bull straws thawed well, and the semen showed good quality. The fourth showed poor motility after the thaw process.” She would like to see some research looking into the percentage of bull collections that maintain acceptable quality after the freezing and thawing process. “If I have a group that has a poor AI take percentage, it is one area that I am looking into.”
Barclay agrees that testing AI semen post-thawing is not a bad idea, especially if a large number of cows are to be bred with the same batch of frozen semen. “We can easily analyze a drop of semen that’s left in the pipette after insemination if we do it here in the clinic,” he says. “Alternatively, the producer can bring us a straw just for evaluation if he will be doing the inseminations himself.”
Is your equipment in order?
It is important to take care of the equipment, as electroejaculators, microscopes, etc. are expensive to replace. “In our practice, our technicians play a large role in maintaining the equipment, so we make a point of educating new employees on proper cleaning and care,” says Barclay (see care and handling sidebar). “The most vulnerable parts of the electroejaculator are the probe and its cord. You want to always store the cord rolled up neatly to avoid kinks that could result in a short. Also, we’ve cracked a probe by accidentally dropping it on the concrete, so they are not indestructible.”
Laurin likes to have an assistant who stands behind the bull (in a safe fashion such as protected with a sturdy bar or back gate) and keeps hold of the end of the probe, in case it needs to be pulled out or repositioned.
Laurin says most parts of most units are fairly water resistant, especially the probe. “We will wash it between bulls in a bucket of water with disinfectant or the sink, to prevent transfer of infectious agents between animals, but the end has to be guarded when washed to prevent damage.”
Having more than one probe at a practice is a good idea. Laurin has noticed that when more than one veterinarian uses a unit, each one handles it differently, and problems can arise with functionality. “In our practice, it is better that each veterinarian has their own unit that they each maintain,” she suggests.