Maria Celina Abraham
Date of Publication:
Licentiate Thesis, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Alpacas have become more popular during the last decades. The herds have been built up by importing live animals since reproductive biotechnologies, for example artificial insemination and semen preservation, are not well-developed in this species. A major problem is the viscosity of the seminal plasma which hinders processing or evaluation of the semen. Enzymes have been used to deal with the viscous seminal plasma but they may damage spermatozoa or render them incapable of fertilization. The use of reproductive biotechnologies would permit the introduction of new genetics without the need to import live animals, thus improving animal welfare and reducing the risk of spreading diseases. Therefore, our aim was to improve reproductive biotechnologies to help develop the Swedish alpaca breeding industry. Laboratory techniques were performed to select the best spermatozoa with Single Layer Centrifugation (SLC), in order to improve cryopreservation. These techniques were developed first using bull semen. There was an improvement in sperm quality in the SLC-selected samples, particularly from poor quality semen. In addition, the SLC technique could be modified to process small volumes. Alpaca epididymides were obtained after routine castration for husbandry purposes, with the intention of comparing semen extenders using extracted epididymal spermatozoa. Most of the organs came from pre-pubertal animals and therefore did not contain spermatozoa. Nevertheless, a decision-making tool for alpaca husbandry under Swedish conditions was developed. We suggest a combination of testicular size and body condition score as a tool for decision-making in the selection of potential sires for animal husbandry under Swedish conditions. A phantom was designed and built to collect semen samples in Sweden, and semen collection trials were also performed in Perú. The advantages and disadvantages of different semen collection techniques were evaluated. However, the problem with semen viscosity still has to be solved. Therefore a semen collection method should be established so that semen handling methods can be developed. We conclude that a phantom could be the best method to use for semen collection in Sweden, since it is a fairly simple technique and, as far as we are aware, there are no animal welfare concerns.
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