Cervical Insemination

 

This study began development of a system to improve small ruminant insemination. Currently laproscopic artificial insemination is the only commercially efficacious method of artificial insemination (AI). Unfortunately, this method is much more aggressive than is utilized in cattle, swine and horses. Within this grant, we are enabling a commercially viable alternative to laproscopic AI, transcervical insemination, predicated on treatment and relaxation of cervical tissue. The portion of the full system developed in this grant comprises:

1) an agent which softens and relaxes cervical tissue,

2) a preliminary delivery mechanism for said agent, and

3) initial development of a process for positioning and restraining the ewe during insemination.

A total of 8 treatment agents for softening were tested; all agents were naturally derived, tissue-safe extracts which are also sperm safe. All were tested first in abattoir tissue (N = 223). Two different treatments (A and B) were then further tested in live ewes (in estrus, n= 22). Both treatments drastically improved transcervical penetration (P<0.01) over control (no treatment). In fact, the treated tissue allowed passage through the cervix 100% of the time, and into the uterine body in most cases. Such penetration enables pregnancy rates similar to live cover in other ruminants, and swine.

AI rod size had an impact on success of passage into the uterus, but both traditional cc and cc, were able to be used. Using cc AI rods, Treatment A enabled 100% success traversing the cervix, while treatment B enabled passage 75% of the time, improving passage depth by 2-3 inches over control (an 40% improvement). With cc rods, both treatments averaged 88% success, compared to the control at 40%, improving depth of penetration by 1 inch over control. Overall 100% passage into the uterine body was achieved 82% of the time using the treatments developed in this grant. This is unprecedented progress toward a transcervical AI in small ruminants.

Breeding trials achieved a 40% pregnancy rate in estrus positive, treated ewes but sample size was severely limited due to confounding problems with equipment and seasonality.

The data generated in the past 6 month, meet the grant objectives, demonstrate proof of concept, and importantly highlight areas of focus for phase II. Preliminary experiments for the next phase of development were executed, enabling movement into commercialization of a product that enables the safe, non-traumatic insemination of small ruminants.