Overview picture and video –
The AI laboratory has to be the cleanest part of the farm/stud and the designs are geared to instil a sense of pride in maintaining this status. For this reason the laboratory staff are encouraged to wear different coloured clothing. The AI laboratory should only be a small room as this is easier to clean and a separate processing area can be made available where the semen is packed and stored. This is a legal requirement under EU stud regulations, however, in cases of on farm-AI the semen storage area may be a thermoregulated cupboard.
The layout of the laboratory, including the minimal amount of equipment necessary to process the semen in described.
The processing system described is a totally disposable system as reusable equipment results in decreased hygiene standards and increased costs – mainly associated with increased water usage (up to 5 x more water is used in a non-disposable AI processing system as compared with the system described) and there is the additional staff time involved in cleaning. The lack of cleaning requirements can also reduce the cost of the whole stud as specified cleaning areas are not required.
High standards of hygiene are also critical because any contamination will damage semen. Clothing, hands, work surfaces and equipment (including disposable) should be clean and the hygiene routines in the procedures closely followed.
Preparation for semen collection and processing must be carried out two hours prior to collection to allow the diluent solution to reach 35°C this is vital for good results. Temperature shock caused by mixing semen with diluent below this temperature will result in reduced viability of semen.
The semen processing system must be simple but without loss of biosecurity. The ejaculate is simply mixed with the warmed diluent in the semen dilution bag and dispensing it into the insemination containers. A simple check for semen motility can be made after dilution and the diluted semen stored at +17°C. Most, if not all of the equipment should be disposable and therefore thrown away at the end of the session. The few re-usable items used must be washed in distilled water (without soap or detergents which are harmful to semen) at the end of the session. Cleaning the laboratory surfaces with a damp cloth completes the hygiene procedures.
There are now a variety of pieces of equipment for dispensing semen. In general the use of self collapsing insemination containers are much better than the older non-collapsible plastic bottles. The self collapsing insemination containers allows the sow to draw the semen by uterine contractions rather than having the semen forced into her by stockpeople.