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).

Process of Artificial Insemination

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. Figure 2 shows the blind spots that 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).

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). 

Click on the image to view larger