ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION (AI)
AB Europe’s veterinary teams specialise in laparoscopic AI in sheep; they are highly experienced and can inseminate large numbers of ewes daily, depending on your set up.
AI offers sheep breeders the opportunity to maximise production potential:
- Using one ram to serve more ewes during a period of time than he could naturally achieve
- Using semen from rams with high genetic merit to improve lamb quality
- Reducing disease risk; new bloodlines can be accessed via frozen semen, without needing to buy or transport animals
- Purchasing frozen semen facilitates using the genetics of a high value ram without the initial outlay and also allows more efficient use of shared rams over a large geographical area
- Compacting the lambing period, saving labour and simplifying husbandry and management systems
- Rearing lambs up in uniform batches for shows and sales
On farm AI is available for breeders with more than 30 ewes to inseminate and we also offer on centre AI days for breeders wishing to inseminate smaller numbers.
Cervical insemination services are also available for organic sheep breeders who wish to take advantage of AI in their flock.
We ask all clients to book their frozen semen requirements at least 14 days before AI day.
If you wish to use semen that is stored elsewhere then we can also arrange for the administration and shipment.
ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION (AI)
The AB Europe technical team answers your questions
What does an AI programme involve?
Ewes must be in season for artificial insemination, so the AI date is pre-arranged. At least one month prior to this date you will receive an AI programme, which provides ‘step-by-step’ instructions outlining how the AI programme will work. A typical AI programme lasts 14 days:
Day 0 Insert sponges
Day 12 Remove sponges and inject PMSG at time specified – timing is crucial
Day 13 Remove food and water from noon
Day 14 Artificially inseminate at the time specified on the programme
Why do I need to synchronise my ewes?
The timing for artificial insemination in sheep is crucial, so ewes must be synchronised to be on heat at the time of AI. Ewes are synchronised using intra-vaginal sponges, CIDRS and PMSG may also be used depending on the breed of sheep and season. Sheep breeders can use teasers (vasectomised males) to help synchronise their ewes.
Which ewes should I use for AI?
Ewes selected for artificial insemination should be those that normally breed well early in the season and have a good record of fertility. For the best chance of conception, ewes should be weaned at least six weeks prior to AI. Maiden ewes should all have cycled naturally more than once before being synchronised for AI, otherwise the conception rates will be highly variable.
What conception rates can I expect?
Conception rates not only depend on the quality of the semen used, but on the careful management of the ewes before and after artificial insemination. Generally, average conception rates of 60-70% can be achieved using frozen semen, and 75-95% can be following AI using fresh semen.
How can teasers help my AI programme?
Vasectomised teaser males used at a ratio of 1:50 can reduce the period of time over which a group of ewes ovulate and may improve conception rates were frozen semen is used for AI. In larger flocks of more than 150 ewes, consider penning all those ewes destined for one sire together. Ewes within that group showing signs of oestrus first should be inseminated first.
If I operate a closed flock – how can AI help me?
Using artificial insemination means that there is no need to purchase a new ram, thereby maintaining closed flock status. Instead semen is introduced from recognized sources and will have been collected and stored under particular conditions. Sheep breeders have found AI to be particularly valuable for their breeding programmes during periods of animal movement restrictions.
How much does sheep AI cost?
For further information and to get a specific quote for your circumstances, please contact your local AB Europe centre.