It is widely accepted that the success of bovine in vitro production (IVP) is hugely dependent on a variety of parameters including; media, oocyte quality, laboratory conditions and many other significant details that contribute to the bigger picture.
One of the most important and often over-looked parameters is the quality of semen that is used.
Bull semen is commonly collected using an artificial vagina. This semen is then treated with cryoprotective agents and semen extenders before being stored in plastic straws for freezing.
Semen quality itself depends on several factors including the age of animal, stress, nutrition and genetics. However, some bulls just simply do not perform well in vitro, no matter how valuable the semen would be for use with in vivo techniques.
How expensive is bull semen?
Bovine semen has been nicknamed “white gold” due to the lucrative business of exporting semen derived from famous bulls. There have been weird and wonderful stories in the popular news such as a robbery of an expensive batch in the USA and a British bull producing up to £800,000 worth of semen a month.
The ancestry, genetic traits and proven IVF performance of the bull are often in line with straw price. In order to actively skew the gender ratio to produce more female offspring (for dairy production), individual sperm can be sex-sorted prior to packaging in straws thus often indicating a bigger price tag.
How can I get more out of each semen straw?
Buying high quality semen can drastically improve the cost-effectiveness of a herd. Using frozen-thawed semen for IVP with our media is a simple and effective way to improve the genetics of the embryos which will give rise to a new generation of livestock.
IVP allows sex-sorted and/or ‘premium’ semen to go further because smaller quantities are needed to fertilise more oocytes in vitro compared to AI and MOET.
How do I prepare semen for IVF?
It goes without saying that if you have spent a lot of money on your semen straw, you want to ensure that you process it with care.
BO-SemenPrep is a semen preparation medium which acts to gently clean the semen prior to fertilisation. There are no density gradients or ‘swim-up’ steps in our protocol for this medium, thus keeping sperm damage to a minimum. A huge benefit of BO-SemenPrep is that it is a non-capacitating medium and therefore sperm energy is preserved for when it is needed, i.e. when introduced to oocytes in the fertilisation medium (BO-IVF).