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Ten Steps of Proper Semen Handling
Dairy Pipeline: May 2000
Ray L. Nebel
Extension Dairy Scientist, Reproductive Management
Proper semen handling procedures from locating the semen in the liquid nitrogen tank to entering the cow's reproductive tract need review periodically. Everyone establishes a routine for handling frozen and thawed semen that hopefully does not injure sperm cells and lower conception rates. Usually, errors made in the handling of frozen -- thawed semen and the equipment used for artificial insemination are small. However, mistakes in semen handling are frequently additive meaning their effects on semen quality will be magnified. Listed below are my top ten areas of importance in handling frozen -- thawed semen on the farm:
- Keep the canister containing the semen canes below the frost line of the neck tube (the frost line is usually 3 to 5 inches from the top of the tank).
- When removing semen from the cane use tweezers.
- Always use a thermometer to obtain the water bath temperature of 95º F.
- Use a watch to accurately time the thawing of semen for a minimum of 40 seconds.
- Never thaw more than 2 straws simultaneously.
- Dry the straw completely with a clean paper towel.
- Cut the straw in the middle of the air bubble at a right angle to prevent semen back-flow between the sheath and rod.
- Warm the stainless steel inseminating rod to body temperature to prevent cold-shock.
- Tighten the sheath over the rod to form a firm seal with the straw.
- Wrap the prepared inseminating rod with a clean dry paper towel to protect against dirt, moisture, and temperature fluctuations.
Virginia Cooperative Extension