In India animal husbandry contributes about 4% towards national GDP. With the advancement of scientific and biotechnological tools, the scenario of animal breeding and improvement has changed to a great extent. Artificial insemination(AI) has changed to a great extent. Artificial insemination (AI)has emerged as a powerful tools for bringing faster generic improvement. It involves many steps, viz, semen collection, its testing, processing and storage before being deposited into female reproductive tract at proper site and time for the purpose of faithful conception. Artificial insemination has proved powerful in disseminating superior quality germplasm from breeding males across the globe without the limitation of borders.
To make successful use of AI technology there should be accrue but differential heat detection in reproductively healthy/unhealthy cows/buffaloes, availability of quality semen and its timely insemination at right site in female reproductive tract.
Why Artificial Insemination
Artificial insemination is a boon to modern day animal breeding due to the following reasons.
- No need to maintain breeding bull at dairy farm which heavily reduces maintenance cost,
- It prevents spread of diseases as the donor bull is first checked for any genetic disorders and other diseases which may lead to infertility in females,
- It increases genetic improvement per unit time,
- It encourages reevaluation at an early age,
- Semen from a superior bull can be used even after his death,
- Semen stored in cry cans is easily portable and can be air freighted,
- There is no problem of animal size as in natural mating, where male and female should be of similar size,
- any problematic animal can be inseminated,
- helps to maintain proper record and better conception rate could be obtained,
- Superior males who are unable to mount can be bred through AI technique and
- It encourages early detection of infertile bulls.
- It demands requirement of skilled persons in the entire chain, particularly the inseminator,
- It requires more labor, special equipment and infrastructure,
- It necessitates the knowledge of structure and function of reproduction on the part of the operators,
- Market value of proper quality bulls is decreased at the expense of superior quality bulls.
- There is danger of spread of infection if proper testing of bull is not done.
In India with the introduction of AI, conception rate has been improving. However, a lot needs to be done for improving the conception rate in dairy animals. Many efforts are continued to make the availability of AI at the farmers doorsteps and still there exists a gap between the target and achieved conception rate. The overall conception rate through AI in the country has been started about 38%. this should be progressively increased to about 70%. It would warrant synchronized efforts of veterinarians, AI technicians and farmers. Talking the last component at present, if farmer identifies the heat in healthy animal at right time, the technician will deposit the thawed frozen semen at right place in female reproductive tract and this will increase the conception rate many folds.
Role of Farmer in Improving conception Rate
The first and prime role of farmer is to identify the animal in heat at right time. A record of animal’s breeding history should be maintained regularly that will help in understanding the right behavior of animal in heat as well as to distinguish it with similar symptoms in diseased animal. The dairy farmer should maintain a friendly relation with the animal and should handle them gently and which care without exciting or frightening. Proper feeding and watering should be done for dairy animals for normal cycling. As a rule sexual maturity is influenced by body weight rather than the age of the animal. So, proper and better nutrition planning right from birth will help achieve early maturity. Mineral mixture supplement should be done right from the second month of age. The age of puberty is reached when animal attains 50%of adult body weight. It is mandatory that in case of heifers first two estruses should be overlooked for batter development of reproductive tract. Heifer should be bred when they achieve at least half of the adult body weight. The animal should have free access to shade during hot summers to ameliorate heat stress in loose housing system and thermo control systems like fan, coolers, wallowing ponds, etc. In intensive systems. The role of farmers can be divided into 3 parts,
Role before Insemination
The role of farmer before insemination is proper care of animal which includes:-
History Recording: The farmer should keep breeding history of animals so that expected date of estrus can be predicted. This would also help in noting recycling at regular/irregular intervals.
Stress free environment: It is obligatory to maintain a stress free environment around animals. There should be a good bondage between owner and the animals that allows animals to display its natural behavior properly. Frightened and mishandled animals do not display the estrus symptoms properly and remain under the influence of stress hormones.
Nutrition and mineral supplementation: Adequate nutrition helps in overall development of animal. High yielding animals go in negative energy balance during earlier lactation period which may result in extensions of service period if proper nutrition is not supplied. Concentrates in the diet should be gradually increased in the last 2 weeks of gestation, from 0.5kg and increase the amount by 300-400 kg daily until it reaches about 1 kg per 100 kg body weight of cow. In the field conditions infertility is mainly due to deficiency of minerals, like copper, zinc, iron and cobalt. Many females specially young heifers, show signs of heat but they fail to conceive because of small ovaries, immature and flaccid reproductive tract. So the animals must be regularly supplemented with minerals mixtures.
Skipping first two estruses in heifers: Mere sign of heat in heifers doesn’t guarantee the animals to get pregnant but it should rather be fertile heat along with good body weight. Therefore, it is mandatory to escape first two estruses in heifers which help in improving conception rate.
Exposure to insemination site: Farmers should himself take the animal which is expected to come in heat to the insemination site to make her familiar with the site so that there occurs no problem at the time of insemination.
Farmer’s Presence: Farmer’s presence at the time of insemination is important and he should make sure that the AI technician has examined the animal before loading the AI gun. He should witness the entire activity himself and note relevant details.
Cleaning of genitalia: The farmer should wash the perineum of animal with lukewarm water and wipe the genitalia with the sanitary napkin or thick plane cotton in order to prevent entry of foreign particle inside the reproductive tract.
The farmers should pay attentions to every step that is followed before AI. He should keep the knowledge that liquid nitrogen is essential for maintaining the viability of sperm. He should enquire about the progressive motility of sperm, if facilities exist. If facilities are not available he should ask the AI technician that when he has filled the cryocan and see whether LN vapor coming out of the cryocan on removing the lid.
Semen use: The farmers should tell the AI technician which semen he wants to use in his animal. It is also the duty of the technician to advise on the subject. He should also consider pelvic indices of the cow. Buffalo to mitigate the chances of dystocia.
Role During Insemination Handling
Rectal palpation: the farmer should make sure that the inseminator has first checked the reproductive status of animal before loading the AI gun. Many times technician is in hurry and they do not carry out rectal palpation prior to insemination. This may lead to AI in pregnant animal leading to abortion, AI in non receptive stage leading to intra uterine infection and wastage of precious germplasm.
Preparation of AI gun: The farmer must witness thawing of the semen straw, loading it in the gun, cutting of its tip by scissors or straw cutter and never by blade. Using the latter leads to leakage of semen in to the sheath and lesser sperm would be deposited in the reproductive tract.
Opening of vulvar lips: Both the hands of AI worker at the time of insemination remain busy, one hand inside rectum for palpation of reproductive tract and other one for carrying/ inserting the AI gun. The chances of infection are high by the inserting tip of AI gun into the reproductive tract if the vulvar lips are not wide opened. The farmer’s role is here to wide open the vulvar lips so as to allow the tip of the AI gun proceed uninfected inside the cervix.
Role After Insemination
Disposal of used AI materials: The farmer should dispose the AI sheath and polythene gloves properly. Burial method is best method for disposing as there are lesser chances for spread of infection.
Reducing heat stress: The animal should be sprinkled with cold water as heat stress depresses fertility. They should be tied under shade.
Watching the animal after insemination: He should keep eye on the inseminated animal for any discharge, excitement and recurrence of heat. Metestrus bleeding occurs in cattle which is normal and it should not be confused with abortion. Unnecessary excitement may lead to abortion so animal should not be unnecessarily disturbed after insemination. Some animals come to heat even in pregnancy especially crossbred cows which if inseminated may get fertilized again but to prevent this, the animal should be checked by expert for pregnancy. There occurs short and long estrus cycles in some infections and for the same a veterinarian should be called upon. The veterinarian should be called for pregnancy diagnosis after2.5 months of pregnancy.
Nutritional management : Provision of green fodder, feed and supply of wholesome water should be available to animal for maintenance of pregnancy.
Practices and myths among villagers: The following myths and practices have been observed among villagers for improving conception rate,
Article By : Aashbaq Hussain Dar (Ph.D. Scholar, Department of Livestock Production Management) And D.V Singh (Professor & head Livestock Production Management) College of Veterinary and Animal Science, G.B.Pant University of Agriculture & Technology Patnagar (Uttrakhand)