University of Guelph
AGR 1100 - Intro to Agri-Food Systems
About the kits
Artificial insemination (AI) is the process of collecting sperm cells from a cow and manually depositing the cells into the reproduction tract of the female cow (FAO, 2015). The AI kit contains equipment that allows for proper disposal of the semen in the straw (ABS Global, 2008). The average AI kit includes sheaths, covers, spiral syringe, latex gloves, lubricant (along with a portable plastic bottle), stainless steel tweezers, and clippers (Figure 1). Kits also include a cito thaw thermos which increases the price (B. Poulin, personal communication, 2015). There is clear advantages and minimal disadvantages to artificial insemination. AI is the most successful and cost effective technology used in reproduction. It improves the rate of sires and bulls can be intensely selected to a farmers desired needs (Lohuis, 1995). Farmers being able to diversify their herds can benefit Nepal tremendously (Pradhan, 2000). AI enhances genetic processes, controls diseases and increases safety around the farm by eliminating bulls. The one outstanding disadvantage towards using AI kits is the farmer would need to check for the cows estrus cycle (heat) within the herd (Goodman, 2013).
Effects of Artificial Insemination
Dairy farmers get frustrated when their herd is inefficient in reproduction. Management of the cows, milk systems, feed, housing, insemination and care for the animals are all components that affect efficient reproduction. There are several factors that limit a cows’ efficiency in reproduction which include body conditions, dry matter intake, detection of heat and embryonic survival. Cow comfort is critical in achieving efficient reproduction (Stevenson, 2001). Minimizing standing time for milking and maximizing time for estrus to occur along with feed intake will increase efficient in reproduction. For proper rumination and efficient milk synthesis to occur it is critical for cattle obtain to maximum number of hours for resting (Stevenson, 2001).
Canada would benefit from this importation since Semex is a Canadian company even if it is not directly being exported from Canada. In Canada, the average AI kit sells for $178 CAN but there are different variations in kits desired for the farmers needs (B. Poulin, personal communications, 2015).
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Process of Artificial insemination
Signs of heat
In dairy cattle, heat detection is a major component involved with the success of reproduction. The most reliable sign of heat detection would be standing to be mounted (Stevenson, 2001). Standing to be mounted is a result when a cow undergoes a series of hormonal changes which is stimulated by estrogen and inhibited by progesterone (Stevenson, 2001). Figure 3 is an example of standing to be mounted. A bull or a cow will jump onto the cow that is showing signs of heat (Perry, 2004). The floor type that a herd is standing on is critical in the process of detecting for heat. If the cow feels unsteady or unbalanced, it will not display the visible sexual behaviours when in heat. A dirt floor is more preferred than concrete when the cows are ready to mount (Stevenson, 2001). Cows that have poor hoof qualities typically mount less but a solid dirt floor can eliminate some of the problems regarding their feet. Secondary signs of heat involve behavioural changes other than sexual interactions (Stevenson, 2001). Cows in heat will rest their chin on the rump of a cow and/or sniff/lick the genital region of a cow. Another sign of heat is increased activity within the herd. The cow will spend more time walking and interacting with cows rather than spending time resting. Another physical sign a cow shows when in heat is a clear thin discharge from the vulva. Once heat is detected, ovulation occurs 24-32 hours after. Within the range of 24-32 hours (Stevenson, 2001), the artificial insemination process can begin.
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Before breeding, equipment available in the kit will allow for successful insemination. First, the tweezers are used to obtain the semen straw from the semen storage tank. Within 10 seconds, the semen straw must be placed in the cito thaw thermos with the optimal temperature being 35-37˚C. After the straw has been in the thermos for 30-45 seconds, remove the straw from the thermos using stainless streel tweezers (ABS Global, 2008). Shake the straw to remove the water particles and to adjust the airspace. Take a clean napkin to remove any excess water. With the air bubble facing upward, use the clippers to cut the tip of the straw off for preparation of the spiral syringe (ABS Global, 2008). Preparing the spiral syringe involves several steps. First, insert the straw into the sheath as far as possible. With the spiral syringe, continue pushing the straw into the sheath until the blue top has reached the top of the sheath. Once at the top, screw the sheath onto the syringe to secure the semen straw (ABS Global, 2008). Carefully press the plunger slowly to remove any excess airspace without losing a drop of semen. Once completed, place the prepared syringe in the cover. It is critical to protect the prepared syringe from extreme temperatures so the semen is not damaged (ABS Global, 2008).
Once heat has been detected and the syringe is prepared, the cow is ready to be inseminated. Wearing the latex gloves, apply lubricant to the glove. Cup the fingers in pointed fashion and insert the left hand into the rectum of the cow. Once injected, gently wipe the vulva with a paper towel to remove any excess manure or debris (Dejarnette and Nebel, [date unknown]). Insert the syringe at a 30˚ upward angle. Once inserted, grasp the cervix and gentle move it forward to straighten vaginal folds (Figure 1). The cervix typically contains 3-4 annular rings or folds. In Figure 2, the blind spots that are outlined in white are sometimes mistaken for the entrance to the cervix (Dejarnette and Nebel, [date unknown]). If the syringe is in a blind spot, gently pull back and try again. Once the syringe is placed in the cervix, slowly deposit the semen into the uterus (Figure 3). Good distribution of the semen enters both uterine horns (Figure 4) which allows for a greater chance of the cow becoming pregnant (Stevenson, 2001). The sperm being deposited in both uterine horns increases the chance of the egg and sperm cells fertilizing (Stevenson, 2001). The life span of frozen semen once placed in the reproduction tract of the cow is less than 48 hours. Once insemination takes place, there are two sources regarding pregnancy failure: fertilization rate and embryonic death. Fertilization rate are procedures that fail to unionize a viable sperm and viable egg. Failure to recognize pregnancy, normal embryonic development, or normal maintenance of pregnancy are all factors that can cause embryonic death (Stevenson, 2001).
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Increasing rate of reproduction
Cows can show signs of heat at any points in the day. When a cow shows heat in the morning, conception rates are much greater if the cow is bred the same day. If heat is detected in the afternoon, there is a much lower conception rate if the cow was bred the next morning (Stevenson, 2001). Inseminating cows at a certain period of time allows ovulation to occur when there is a substantial amount of motile sperm available in the oviduct. The timing of successful insemination will maximize fertilization rates in the farmers herd. Generally, the sperm needs 6-10 hours to reach the lower portion of the oviduct (Stevenson, 2001). There is always a chance of failed reproduction. The technician breeding the cow must properly place the semen in the uterus. If failed to do so, the semen goes to waste and must wait until the next heat cycle for the cow. Ideally, when using AI, cows must be clear of any sickness (Stevenson, 2001). In 2007, Nepal had a 60% mastitis rate. This high rate of mastitis can affect the benefits of the product (Yadav and Devkota, 2011). Body conditions before the dry period are essential. The cows must obtain a certain body weight which allows better performance in their next lactation. It is more energy efficient for cows to gain weight during their lactation period than it is during their dry period if they are too thin. Heat stress effects a cow in multiple ways. Heat causes low milk yields and during AI period, heat stress reduces the uterine flow which is essential is successful AI (Stevenson, 2001).
benefits to canada
Exporting AI kits from Canada to Nepal will increase Canada’s economy (Farm Credit Canada, 2014). In the 1960’s, AI for dairy cattle was introduced in Canada and peaked in the 1980’s. Today, 75% of all the dairy cattle nationally are breed through reproductive technologies. In Canadian dairy industry, AI is a critical component in the growing sector of genetics. Holstein yields have increased by an average of 200 kg of milk, 7.0 kg of fat and 6.3 kg of protein per year since 1980. AI processes have not only increased accuracy and intensity, but improved the rates of phenotypic and genetic processed over the years (Van Doormaal and Kistemaker, 2003). AI has allowed farmers in Canada to diversify their herds to their liking which allows them to choose from selective sires. Having the ability to choose bulls that are shown to have a high fertility rate or high muscle mass weight are two simple ways that shows how much diversification a farmer can have when using AI and AI kits (Van Doormaal and Kistemaker, 2003).
In Nepal, agriculture is embedded in their lifestyle. Nepal has a total area of 147 187 squared kilometres and a total population of 31 551 305 people. Of the total population, 81% are engaged with agricultural activities and 66% of whom are directly involved with agriculture. Nepal is located between India in the East, South and West and China in the North (FAO, 2015). Nepal can be divided into 3 ecological regions known as the Himalayan, Hill and Terai regions. The Himalayan region covers 35% of the total area. It is home to the highest peak of Mount Everest and is covered in snow throughout the year. The Hill region located throughout the middle section of Nepal covers 42% of the total area and includes hills, valleys, and lakes. The Terai region covers 23% of the total area and contains dense forest area (FAO, 2015). Nepal is home to 75 districts and the capital city is Kathmandu. It is clear that Nepal’s population is large relative to its total area. In 2014, the GDP (gross domestic product) per capita was $2400 US dollars, agricultural accounting for 38% of the total GDP. One quarter of the population is living below the poverty live (CIA, 2015). Evidently, Nepal is developing country.
To add to the challenges the people of Nepal encounter daily, on April 25th, 2015, an earthquake struck Nepal with a magnitude of 7.8. Aftershocks of a 7.3 magnitude struck Nepal on May 12th. This was the worst earthquake Nepal faced within the last 80 years. The earthquake trigged avalanches and landslides in the mountains and hills and left thousands dead, injured, hungry and homeless (FAO 2015). Seeds, food grains, agricultural tools and machinery were buried and destroyed especially in the 40 districts that were struck. With this devastating natural disaster, Nepal must find ways to improve their major source of income.
Livestock consumes nearly a third of Nepal’s agriculture domestic products. Dairy is important for growing agricultural industry contributing two thirds of the livestock sector which is dominated by small farmers. Milking processing began in the early 1950’s (Pradhan, 2000). Livestock is an important source of income for the Nepalese. Products made from livestock can be sold for cash met through milk, yoghurt, cheese, ghee, egg and live animals (FAO, 2015). Each ecological region consists of different animals. In the Himalayas, Yak or Chauri (breed of cow) and goats are dominate. In the Hills, cows, sheep, goats and poultry are dominate. In the Terai, buffalos, cows, goats and poultry are dominate. Major sources of farm power the Nepalese use come from human and animal labour (FAO, 2015). Nepal has relatively larger herd sizes compared to the other South Asian countries but have low milk yields, poor quality of animal health care and breeding services (Singh and Pundir, [date unknown]).
benefits of artificial insemination kits to nepal
Diversity is a critically important for the success of Nepal. Diversity in Nepal will increase food production, maximize the productivity of agricultural land and achieve sustainable agriculture benefits to the present and future generations of Nepal (Wilson, 1997). AI genetics will improve the farmers lives, increase animal production and products and diversify a particular herd. In developing countries, AI restricts the rate of inbreeding and increases the rate of genetic improvement (van Arendonk, 2011). With the help of the AI kits, farmers can properly breed cows. AI kits will benefit the farmers that already import artificial semen. This technology allows for effective distribution of genetics and semen (van Arendonk, 2011). The use of AI and AI kits is relatively new to Nepal. In developing countries, starting a community-based breed program offers local farmers to get involved and to is easy to implement (van Arendonk, 2011). When the AI kits are successful in Nepal, Nepalese can being to import elite sires from Semex. In order for this product to be successful, the Nepalese must be patient. In Canada, AI has been proven to increase milk yields over many years. After AI peaks in Nepal, farmers will be able to produce more milk which will allow them to participate in trade globally (Stevenson, 2001). For this to be possible, Nepal requires high volume, good quality and stability of their milk sources. Their possible export partners could be their neighbouring countries, Bangladesh and Bengal (Stevenson, 2001).
In conclusion, using AI kits will help the diversification of milk products and expand the market. Farmers can come together as one and improve the life in Nepal as a community. A business alliance or joint venture with partners from developed countries like Canada, can improve the dairy sector in developing countries. Over time there is a greater economic return in exporting artificial insemination kits (Stevenson, 2001).
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