Semen Storage and Handling
JOPLIN, Mo. (Aug. 31, 2011) — As part of the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) conference, artificial insemination (AI) professionals spoke to an audience gathered at the Joplin Regional Stockyards about proper techniques for storing and handling semen. Leading off, ABS Global representative Brian Brace reviewed packaging systems for frozen semen, as well as the care and use of equipment such as semen storage tanks employing liquid nitrogen, thawing units and equipment used during insemination.
Brace said the predominate form for semen packaging and delivery is the semen straw, which allows for relatively uniform control of freezing and thawing processes. While the 0.5 mL (½ cc) straw is most popular, Brace said some semen providers package semen in 0.25 mL (1/4 cc) straws.
“Each has a different surface-to-volume ratio, which requires different handling procedures, and recommendations can vary among semen providers,” Brace explained. “It is important to understand that semen should be thawed according to the recommendations of the company supplying the semen.”
Tips for handling storage tanks included keeping tanks away from direct sunlight, in a cool, dry and well-ventilated environment. Producers were warned against allowing tanks to rest directly on concrete floors, as acids in concrete may corrode the bottoms of tanks. Placing tanks on wooden pallets was recommended, as was frequent monitoring of nitrogen levels and recharging of each tank before the nitrogen level falls below 2 inches.
KABA/Select Sires representative Dan Bush demonstrated procedures for removing frozen straws from tanks, use of thaw bath units and preparation of sheaths and insemination guns. He recommended never thawing more semen than will be used within 10 minutes.
“I might be overcautious about semen handling, but better control of temperature means better results,”Bush stated. “Be particularly efficient and quick with ¼ cc straws. They are more susceptible to temperature change and warm quicker.”
Brace and Bush spoke during an evening session of the ARSBC symposium hosted Wednesday evening, Aug. 31, at the Joplin Regional Stockyards. Summaries of other presentations at the ARSBC wil be available online at www.appliedreprostrategies.com. Compiled by Angus Productions Inc. (API; publisher of the Angus Journal and the Angus Beef Bulletin), the site is made possible through sponsorship by the Beef Reproductive Task Force, SEK Genetics, and liveauctions.tv. Coverage will include summaries of the speaker presentations, PowerPoints, proceedings and audio.
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