New AI cool chain boosts conception rates

UK - A new AI distribution system, designed to maintain semen in peak condition from the laboratory to point of insemination, has been launched by JSR Genetics.
calendar icon 24 January 2003
clock icon 3 minute read
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Known as the JSR Genetics Cool Chain AI distribution system, the aim is to help pig farmers obtain consistently good results from quality-controlled semen. Its introduction follows a dramatic switch by UK pig producers from natural service to AI. Estimates suggest that up to 80 per cent of services on British pig farms are now carried out by AI, but recent surveys have shown that many herds are achieving poor conception rates.

The new system ensures that every link in the distribution chain provides an optimum environment for semen to retain maximum fertility. In particular, it uses new technology to avoid fluctuating temperatures which can damage sperm and reduce its potency.

The company's courier service has been expanded with the commissioning of two specially-equipped 'Cool Link' vehicles - one for the north and one for the south of the country - which maintain semen at 17ºC. These have the same specification as those used by the NHS blood transfusion and organ donor services. In co-operation with the manufacturers, a system of racking and storage trays has been developed to avoid temperature fluctuations, even when the vehicle doors are opened.

Semen is delivered to the next link in the chain - a 'Cool Locker' storage box. These 45-litre receptacles, holding 150-180 doses, offer the same strict temperature control and are normally sited outside the unit's perimeter to safeguard biosecurity and to allow deliveries to take place at any time. They can be operated by 12-volt battery as well as mains electricity.

From here the semen can be transferred to the farmer's own on-farm storage cabinet. However, the company points out that, having been safely transported many miles, it is often the last 50 metres of the journey to the sow that can be most hazardous for the semen.

For this reason JSR Genetics recommends the use of a small, lightweight insulated 'Cool Bag' which can carry up to 24 doses in insulated pockets, together with catheters and other equipment. This helps to maintain the crucial 17ºC right up to the point of insemination since the inseminators can carry the bags over their shoulders while moving around the unit, without subjecting the sperm to last-minute temperature shocks.

"Semen from JSR Genetics SDS centres has a high genetic value and can have a large influence on the profitability of the unit. We therefore need to ensure we maximise this genetic value by handling it correctly at all times," commented Peter Shelton, JSR Genetics sales director.

Source: JSR Genetics - 24th January 2002

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