- Animals: sheep
- Animal Production: animal protection and health, livestock breeding
- Education and Training: farmer to farmer
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life
The dairy, beef and horse industries have benefited greatly in the past two decades by their ability to reliably ship chilled semen, while the sheep industry has not. A number of factors influence this issue. A major factor is the lack of information regarding favorable ram semen extenders and chilled shipping methods. The sheep industry does implement frozen semen for laparoscopic insemination, but this is cost prohibitive to the small farmer/rancher. Identifying semen extenders that are successful in maintaining viable sperm motility through
a two day shipping window would allow the small flock farmer/rancher to trans-vaginally inseminate his own flock, as well as expand the marketability of his own quality rams.
This project proposes to utilize three rams that are proven sires and have passed comprehensive breeding soundness exams. Each ram will be trained to collect via artificial vagina, a method documented in SARE Grant FNC#13-901 to produce greater volume, motility, and correct morphology of sperm cells, as well as being less stressful on the ram than traditional electro-ejaculation techniques. These rams will be collected twice a month through the breeding season of September first to November twenty-third. Each semen sample will be evaluated fresh, then divided into four samples containing four different semen extenders. The samples will be chilled at a pre-calculated rate and re-evaluated at twenty-four, forty-eight and seventy-two hours post collection for progressive motility. The ninety-six total samples evaluated should demonstrate repeatability of results. This data will be charted and a final report drafted that will identify the extender that provides the greatest motility over the longest chilled period. This information will then be disseminated amongst the small sheep producer population locally, regionally and nationally.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Provide small sheep producers a safe, cost-effective alternative to grow their flocks’ genetic quality, diversity and value, increasing sustainability and over-all profitability.
2. Reduce bio-hazards, cost and risks associated with shipping and keeping rams.