- The popularity of alpacas (Vicugna pacos) is increasing in Sweden as well as in other countries; however, knowledge about optimal management practices under Swedish conditions is still limited. The wide age range reported when the onset of puberty can occur, between 1 and 3 years of age, makes management decisions difficult and may be influenced by the conditions under which the alpacas are kept. The aim of this study was to find out when Swedish alpacas can be expected to start producing sperm, by using testicular length and body condition score as a more precise indirect indicator than age.
- Epididymal spermatozoa were harvested from male alpacas and frozen after extension and cooling to 4°C in citrate-, Tris- and lactose-based diluents (Experiment 1) and as pellets in 0.25- and 0.5-mL straws on either dry ice or over liquid nitrogen vapour (Experiment 2) to determine the effects diluents and packaging on their motility and acrosome integrity. In Experiment 1, sperm motility was higher after cooling to 4°C and after freeze–thawing (0 but not 3 h post-thaw) for spermatozoa extended in the lactose- than the citrate- or Tris-based diluent (P < 0.05). Post-thaw acrosome integrity after cooling to 4°C and post-thaw (0 h) was reduced for spermatozoa frozen in citrate- compared with lactose- or Tris-based diluents, but was similar for all groups 3 h after thawing. In Experiment 2, sperm motility immediately after thawing was higher for pellet freezing than for 0.25- or 0.5-mL straws on dry ice or liquid nitrogen vapour (P < 0.05), although by 3 h post-thaw motility was similar for pellets and straws (P > 0.05). Acrosome integrity was similar for all groups immediately after thawing and 3 h post-thaw. Cryopreservation of epididymal alpaca spermatozoa is feasible, with retained motility and acrosome integrity post-thaw. Freezing as pellets in a lactose-based diluent is recommended.
- Two experiments were conducted to determine the effects of glycerol concentration and Equex STM® paste on the post-thaw motility and acrosome integrity of epididymal alpaca sperm. In Experiment 1, epididymal sperm were harvested from male alpacas, diluted, and cooled to 4 °C in a Lactose cooling extender, and pellet-frozen in a Lactose cryodiluent containing final glycerol concentrations of 2, 3, or 4%. In Experiment 2, epididymal sperm were diluted in Biladyl®, cooled to 4 °C, stored at that temperature for 18–24 h, and further diluted with Biladyl® without or with Equex STM® paste (final concentration 1% v:v) before pellet freezing. In Experiment 1, sperm motility was not affected by glycerol concentration immediately (2%: 16.1 ± 4.6%; 3%: 20.5 ± 5.9% and 4%: 18.5 ± 6.6%; P > 0.05) or 3h post thaw (< 5% for all groups; P > 0.05). Post-thaw acrosome integrity was similar for sperm frozen in 2% (83.6 ± 1.6%), 3% (81.3 ± 2.0%) and 4% glycerol (84.8 ± 2.0%; P > 0.05) but was higher 3h post-thaw for sperm frozen in 3% (75.7 ± 3.8%) and 4% (77.2 ± 4.1%) than 2% glycerol (66.9 ± 2.7%; P < 0.05). In Experiment 2, sperm motility was higher immediately after thawing for sperm frozen in the presence of Equex STM® (Equex®: 21.5 ± 3.5%; control: 14.4 ± 2.1%; P < 0.05) but was similar at 3h post-thaw (P > 0.05). Acrosome integrity was similar for sperm frozen with or without Equex STM® paste immediately (control: 89.6 ± 1.2%; Equex®: 91.1 ± 1.4%; P > 0.05) and 3 h post-thaw (control: 69.3 ± 3.7%; Equex®: 59.9 ± 5.8%; P > 0.05). Sperm cryopreserved in medium containing 3–4% glycerol and 1% Equex STM® retained the best motility and acrosome integrity, even after liquid storage for 18–24 h at 4 °C prior to cryopreservation.