Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Review article2024Peer reviewed

Antibiotics in semen extenders - a multiplicity of paradoxes

Morrell, Jane; Cojkic, Aleksandar; Malaluang, Pongpreecha; Ntallaris, Theodoros; Lindahl, Johanna; Hansson, Ingrid


Addition of antibiotics to semen extenders was taken for granted for many years, from the time that commercial artificial insemination in livestock first began many decades ago. However, there is now a growing realisation that this non-therapeutic utilisation of antibacterial agents is contrary to current recommendations for prudent use that medical and veterinary professionals are advised to follow. Furthermore, antibiotics are not benign, having negative effects on sperm samples, the inseminated female, personnel and potentially the environment. The purpose of this review is three-fold: to highlight the fact that antibiotics are used in semen extenders, with the result that considerable amounts are used globally in animal breeding, to review recent studies on the negative aspects of using antibiotics for this purpose, and to look at possible alternatives. Recent changes in the legislation regarding semen extenders occurred in some, but not all, countries, leaving question marks for semen producers as to whether antibiotics should be added to semen extenders or not.Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem of monumental proportions, requiring radical action to stem its progress. One of the questionable uses of antibiotics is in semen doses used for artificial insemination, which may be contrary to current recommendations to restrict antibiotics for therapeutic purposes. This review describes some of the problems arising from antibiotic use in semen extenders and suggests some alternatives. Photographs by Jane M. Morrell.This article belongs to the Collection Dedication to Jim Cummins.


antimicrobial resistance; bacteria; colloid centrifugation; genotypic resistance; legislation; minimum inhibitory concentrations; One Health; sperm quality

Published in

Reproduction, Fertility and Development
2024, Volume: 36, number: 5, article number: RD23218