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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Use of frozen-thawed semen aggravates the summer-autumn infertility of artificially inseminated weaned sows in the Mediterranean region

Bolarin, A.; Hernandez, M.; Vazquez, J. M.; Rodriguez-Martinez, H.; Martinez, E. A.; Roca, J.


Improvement of farrowing rate (FR) and litter size (LS) of sows that are AI with frozen-thawed (FT) semen can hardly be reached without identification of the factors behind the high variability seen among trials. Three experiments using weaned (4-d wean-to-estrus interval) multiparous (parity 2 to 7) sows were conducted to evaluate the effect of period of the year on FR and LS of FT-inseminated sows in southern Spain. Sows were grouped into 2 periods of the year: winter-spring (November to April; WS) and summer-autumn (May to October; SA). Ovarian status was monitored by transrectal ultrasonography to record how long before or after ovulation AI was performed (pre-, peri-, or postovulatory AI) and to determine the onset of estrus-to-ovulation interval (EOI). Inseminations were performed using deep intrauterine AI with 1.5 x 109 FT sperm per dose. The first experiment was designed to determine the influence of the period of the year on FR and LS of FT semen. Sows (116 in WS and 100 in SA) were AI at 33 and 39 h after the onset of estrus. The period of the year influenced the FR and LS (P < 0.01). Farrowing rate and LS were least in SA (P < 0.05). This pattern of annual variation was similar to that shown by sows on the same farm currently undergoing AI with liquid semen (cervical AI at 12 and 36 h after the onset of estrus with 3 x 109 sperm per dose). However, the FR reduction in SA respect to WS was more substantial in sows artificially inseminated with FT (77.6 vs. 50%, P < 0.001) than those artificially inseminated with liquid semen (83.9 vs. 71.8%, P < 0.05). More pre- and less periovulatory AI were performed in SA sows than in WS sows (P = 0.05). Experiment 2 was designed to evaluate whether the period of the year influenced EOI. Ovarian status was transrectal ultrasonography scanned every 6 h after the onset of estrus until the end of ovulation (WS: 30; SA: 31 sows). There were more sows with long EOI (>48 h) in SA than in WS (P = 0.05). Experiment 3 aimed to improve the reduced FR and LS recorded in SA sows when using FT semen (Exp. 1) by inducing ovulation with eCG + hCG. A single AI with FT semen was performed 5 h before the expected ovulation (55 sows). As a control, spontaneously ovulating sows (n = 53) were FT-inseminated as in Exp. 1. Hormonal induction of ovulation did not improve FR and LS (P > 0.05). In the Spanish Mediterranean area, a longer EOI during SA negatively influenced the FR and LS of weaned sows after AI. This effect was particularly evident when FT semen was used. These findings were not ameliorated by hormonal induction of ovulation.


fertility; frozen-thawed semen; ovulation; season; swine

Published in

Journal of Animal Science
2009, volume: 87, number: 12, pages: 3967-3975

Authors' information

Bolarín, Alfonso
University of Murcia
Hernandez, Marta
Vazquez, Juan Maria
University of Murcia
Rodriguez, Heriberto
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Martinez, Emilio A.
University of Murcia
Roca, Jordi
University of Murcia

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science
Veterinary Science

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