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Theriogenology. 2008 Nov;70(8):1324-36. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2008.07.015. Epub 2008 Sep 5.

Identifying useable semen.

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  • 1Swine Research & Technology Centre, University of Alberta, Canada.


The "predictors of useable semen" used in most commercial AI centers provide a very conservative estimate of the relative fertility of individual boars. Furthermore, the relatively high sperm numbers used in commercial AI practice (usually >3 x10(9) total sperm per dose of extended semen) usually compensate for reduced fertility, as can be demonstrated in some boars when lower numbers of sperm are used for AI. Differences in relative boar fertility are also masked by the widespread use of pooled semen for commercial AI in many countries. However, the need to continually improve the efficiency of pork production, suggests that commercial AI practice should involve increased use of boars with the highest genetic merit for important production traits. Necessarily, this must be linked to the use of fewer sperm per AI dose, fewer inseminations per sow bred, and hence more sows bred by these superior sires. In turn, this requires improved techniques for evaluating semen characteristics directly related to the fertilization process, such as IVM-IVF assays, analysis of seminal plasma protein markers, more discriminatory tests of sperm motility and morphology, with the goal of identifying high-index boars whose fertility is sustained when low numbers of sperm are used for AI. This paper reviews the current status of laboratory-based boar semen evaluation techniques that meet these criteria.

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