SEMEN FREEZING AND STORAGE
Freezing semen from your stock ram provides peace of mind against infertility or death. In the wake of FMD and BTV, more and more sheep breeders are preserving their elite genetics. AB Europe’s semen freezing and storage facilities enables them from to take advantage of the ultimate form of insurance.
AB Europe is the UKs leading provider of semen freezing services for sheep. As a company we offer:
- Cost effective insurance against death / serious injury – many prize-winning rams are still able to sire lambs many years after their death via frozen semen
- The ability to breed from injured or incapacitated rams
- Shared assets – enabling consortium owners to share the ram without transporting him
- An additional source of income from ram semen sales
- The opportunity to export ram semen worldwide
- Contingency planning – preserving your superior genetics and rare breeds
- The opportunity to fertility test rams prior to artificial insemination (AI) / natural service
- Frozen semen can also be used as a back-up on your AI day
Breeders can access AB Europe’s UK based dedicated approved facilities take advantage of our DEFRA approved, isolated health status export facilities in Malvern and Edinburgh, and in turn export semen worldwide.
AB Europe veterinarians and technicians are also able to offer fertility testing to ensure that your ram is fertile and ready for the breeding season.
The AB Europe technical team answers your questions
How do I prepare my rams for semen freezing?
Rams need to be fit and healthy prior to semen collection. They must be free from disease, illness and lameness. If the ram has not been working it would be beneficial for him to run with a select few ewes to ‘clear out’ his tubes before he enters the shed. If he has been working naturally, he needs at least two days rest before semen collection can begin. If the ram is ‘spirited’ it would be beneficial for you to take some time to train him at home. Sit with him in a small pen with a ewe in season to familiarise him with the collection process.
What is involved in the semen collection process?
Once in the shed, your ram is housed in an individual pen. Rams are collected twice per day, typically in the morning to allow the semen to chill throughout the day before freezing. Depending on age and breed, you can expect 30 to 40 doses frozen each day. This figure is also dependent on the ram’s health and the quality of the semen produced. Our technicians will regularly update you on how the ram is performing. If your ram is on a specific diet, please supply us with enough feed for the duration of his stay.
How do I book in rams for semen collections?
To book in a ram, contact you nearest centre. Our ram shed technicians will advise you on shed availability at the time. All ownership details, including all shared owners must be given when booking in. A movement license is required for all of the sheep which are being brought into the centre. If applicable, an in-date MV Accreditation Scheme certificate should also be supplied.
Can semen be collected from an injured or dead ram?
If you have a ram which has to be euthanaised due to trauma or has died very recently, ideally within six hours, we can harvest his semen for freezing. If the ram is still alive, he can be brought to a centre to be euthanaised or if the ram has recently died the testicles can be brought to our centres wrapped in a towel within a sterile box.
AB Europe uses a process called epididymal harvest whereby the epididymis is removed and the semen flushed out. If the semen collected is of sufficient quality then we can process it for freezing.
Please phone your nearest centre to discuss salvaging genetics when the times comes, and please be aware results do vary.
How is sheep semen frozen?
Once collected, the motility and density of the semen sample is assessed, following this the sample is diluted. The diluted semen is chilled and frozen into pellets (UK domestic is not often frozen in straws). Pellets come in two forms: P2 pellets contain two doses of semen and P1 pellets contain one dose of semen. To avoid confusion, it is best to refer to the number of DOSES of semen required and not the number of pellets or straws.
How is frozen semen stored?
We have numerous storage tanks filled with liquid nitrogen to store semen indefinitely. The quality of stored semen does not decrease over time. The first year’s semen storage is free with AB Europe, and thereafter is calculated at 50p/dose/year. Minimum storage is £31.50 + VAT per ram for <60 doses.
I want to have semen frozen for export, what must I do?
AB Europe has dedicated teams who have expertise in the import and export of frozen semen. Special quarantine requirements exist for different countries. See Imports and Exports for further information.
How much does semen freezing cost?
For further information on costs, and to get a specific quote for your circumstances, please contact your local AB Europe centre.