Thawing & Preparing Semen for Artificial Insemination?

Sometimes it is the small errors which cost us dearly particularly when it comes to fertility. Many factors affect fertility, but you can do everything right but if the Sperm is dead, it’s dead.

Below I have constructed a protocol sheet to work with your Artificial Insemination (A.I.) courses and training you have been on. You should regularly take part in “Refresher” A.I. courses regardless of how good you think you are, and why wouldn’t you? When I have £35 lying in the end of an A.I. rod I want it alive and in the correct place! As a bare minimum; 1 refresher course every 5years.

Thawing & Preparing the Semen for A.I.

Be gentle and slow with cows to reduce unnecessary stress/noise.

1. Check Sperm Motility (especially important for Block servicing).

2. A.M./P.M. rule

– cow bulling P.M. served following A.M.
– and cow bulling A.M. served P.M.

3. Cow caught and head locked in crushnever load gun etc. before this has occurred.

• If cows waiting for longer periods, they must be fed/watered.

4. Label individual Canister clearly – (i.e. A, B, C, D, E).

5. Write near Flask what is in each canister – (i.e. HOL. Twist/B.B. Ukulele…)

• Spread Semen out over pots and do not overfill.
• There can be 5/6pots per canister – for ease a maximum of 15 straws per pot.

6. Boil Water or Heat to 37°C.

• Whether Conventional or Sexed Semen 37°C is now the target.
• A Semen thaw flask offers consistency.
X2 Thermometers. The 2nd to check the 1st is correct every now and then.
Stopwatch – phone or other.
• Heat water to correct temperature before selecting straw and add enough water to cover the length of a straw.
• Know where straw is (i.e. canister A, Hol. Twist).
• Open lid slowly raise selected canister to a similar level as pictured (above right), then select a straw using forceps. You have 5 seconds MAX here before you will need to drop canister down for 10 seconds!! Then try again to select a straw. See diagram (right) for changes in temperature up a flask. Be very patient here, you can kill all sperm in cannister if you keep it held up too long.
• Slowly lower canister back, whilst you grip straw.
• Shake straw (remove any trapped liquid Nitrogen).
• Drop straw into warm water crimped end to the bottom of flask.
Start Stopwatch, then CLOSE lid on AI Flask.
• Warm AI rod with gentle paper towel rubbing. Pay particular attention to tip – do not make too hot though!!
Wait 40 seconds before taking straw out.
• Take straw out making sure air bubble moves up and down straw.
• Wipe straw dry (water can kill sperm).

• Cut off crimped end at a right angle (between airspace of seal and semen).
• Insert straw into the end of the AI rod (cotton wool end first).
• Loosen plastic ring on AI rod and then using a CLEAN AI sheaf pull the sheaf over the AI rod and straw. Pull ring over sheaf and then use it to tighten sheaf to AI rod.
• Push plunger SLOWLY on AI rod to push air out of straw. You want to see the sperm pushed to the end, then stop.
• The semen cannot cool down again. As this will cause cold SHOCK and kill sperm. Keep AI gun insulated.

o Wrap a little paper towel around tip of gun.
o Then either put it down your front close to your chest or within an insulated pouch (pictured right or below right).

Walk over to cow with rod insulated. Paper towel, lubricant, and an AI glove on.
• Raise tail head and wipe muck away with AI glove hand.
• Add some lubricant to AI glove hand. Close fingers into a point (cone shape) and slowly push this hand into cow’s rectum with lubricant. Locating Cervix and hold it.
• Then wipe clean the vulva with paper towel in other hand.
• Then take AI glove remove paper at bottom and slowly insert the rod into the vulva at a 30-40° angle to avoid urethra. (See left).
• Keep gun clean as the rod goes in.
• Once past urethra you can lift rod up closing the angle to about 20° (closer to fully horizontal).
• Gently slide/weave the gun towards the cervix as you have been taught.
Follow what you have been taught on your AI course putting semen in Uterus and if you struggle to get through Cervix leave semen there. This maybe because cow although showing heat is actually pregnant, this does happen. Never FORCE anything you can cause permanent and everlasting damage.

For Further advice on Cow Management, contact Wesley at or your local FCG Office.

Posted in Business Management, Chippenham, Dairy & Forage.