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Artificial Insemination for Goats

by Robert Spencer

WHY ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION?

A. I. is an aid in breeding programs. There are numerous sires in all breeds available though A. I., allowing you to choose one that complements or improve those areas of greatest need in your herd. You can utilize bucks from miles away or bucks that are no longer alive. If you keep more than one breed and use A. I. exclusively, you will never worry about the wrong buck getting loose and breeding the wrong doe.
The minimum equipment you will need to begin includes an insemination gun, sheaths, a light source, speculums, lubricating jelly, a straw cutter, tweezers, and access to frozen semen. For under $100 you can be in business. That is less than the cost of a buck, housing, feed, and etc.

INTRODUCTION

Artificial insemination (A.I.) involves collecting semen from a buck and the transfer of semen into the reproductive tract of the doe. Does can be inseminated with either fresh semen or with commercially collected frozen semen. The probability of successful insemination (given ideal conditions and experienced handler) should be about sixty-five percent.
Reasons for goat producers to consider using A.I. include the following:

1. Eliminate or reduce the cost of maintaining bucks.
2. Expansion of genetic improvement throughout herd.
3. Increase the number of does to which a buck could be bred.
4. Through use of estrous synchronization, A.I. allows several does to be bred the same day.

Whatever the reasons for using A.I., it is important the producer fully understands the reproductive cycle of the doe, correct storage and handling of semen, and proper insemination procedures.

REPRODUCTIVE CYCLE OF THE DOE

In general, dairy goats are seasonal breeders, while meat goats will breed almost any time of the year. However, meat goats tend to be most fertile during the same seasons as dairy goats. The breeding season is initiated by decreasing daylight and runs from late August to January in the United States. Estrous cycles can be initiated out of season by controlling artificial lights to simulate decreasing daylight. The goat's average estrous cycle is 21 days. However, individual does can have both longer and shorter intervals between heat periods. For this reason, it is important to keep individual reproductive records on each doe. The duration of heat or estrus is typically 24 to 36 hours with ovulation occurring near the end of estrus.

HEAT DETECTION

A producer's heat detection program is an important factor in determining whether an artificial insemination program will succeed. Knowing when a doe comes into estrus lets the technician time insemination so it more nearly coincides with ovulation.

Symptoms of does in heat are:

1. does that flag (wag) their tails frequently and rapidly
2. does that are unusually aggressive, noisy or active,
3. females that stand to be mounted by herdmates,
4. a clear mucous discharge from the vulva.

It is important to document individual heat detection for each doe during the breeding season. Does that are to be inseminated should be observed twice daily for 15-20 minutes. Early morning and late afternoon are good times to observe estrus. Observing does for heat detection during chore time as well as other times of the day will avoid estrus does being overlooked.
Accurate records should be maintained, including time of heat, length of heat and length of time between heat periods. These records will help a producer accurately anticipate and detect heat in individual does, and time insemination with ovulation.

TIME OF INSEMINATION

As discussed earlier, a doe is a seasonal breeder that cycles about every 21 days. The average heat or estrus will last from 24 to 36 hours with ovulation occurring near the end of estrus. The standard A.I. recommendation is to breed does two (or three) times at 12-hr intervals. This breeding schedule increases the possibility of a healthy sperm contacting a healthy ovum. After you have inseminated each doe make sure to document: the doe, the number of times she was inseminated, and the information from the straw/buck used. This will be important for registering the kids after they are born.

EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO INSEMINATE DOES WITH FROZEN SEMEN

1. Liquid nitrogen tank ($300+)
2. Speculum (25 x 175 mm for doelings or 25 x 200 mm for does)
3. A.I. light
4. Straw tweezers
5. Sterile lubricant (non-spermicidal)
6. Insemination gun (for straws)
7. Breeding stand or facilities to restrain the doe
8. Thaw container
9. Paper towels
10. Straw cutter
11. Thermometer

These supplies can be obtained from several livestock supply companies. The liquid nitrogen tank will be the largest single expense, and will cost approximately $450.

SEMEN THAWING AND INSEMINATION PROCEDURES

The first step is to restrain the doe to be inseminated. This can be done with a breeding stand or any other satisfactory facility.
After the doe is restrained, the semen is thawed and the insemination gun is prepared. Frozen semen should be thawed according to the processor's recommendations. If these recommendations are not available, remove the frozen straw from the liquid nitrogen tank with a straw tweezers, and place it in a thaw box filled with warm water (95°F) for 30 seconds. After thawing, dry the straw thoroughly with a paper towel. Semen must be kept warm and must not be exposed to sunlight or water during the thawing and inseminating process to prevent damaging or killing sperm cells. Pull the plunger back 4 to 6 inches on the insemination gun and place the straw into the gun with the cotton plug toward the plunger. After the straw has been secured in the gun, the sealed end of the straw must be cut off with the straw cutter. The cover sheath should now be placed over the insemination gun and secured. These steps will vary slightly depending on the type of insemination gun used.
The next step is the actual insemination process. It may be necessary to lift the does's hindquarters if she will not stand. If working alone, hold the insemination gun in your mouth, or have an assistant hand the insemination gun to you at the appropriate time. Turn your light on.
Lubricate the speculum with a non-spermicidal lubricant. Clean the doe's vulva with a dry paper towel and insert the lubricated speculum slowly into the vulva. Insert the speculum at an upward angle parallel with the angle of the rump to prevent vaginal irritation.
Once the speculum has been inserted, visually locate the cervix. The cervix should have a red-purple color and white mucus will be present if the doe is in heat. Center the speculum over the opening of the cervix.
Insert the insemination gun into the speculum and thread it into the opening of the cervix. Use a circular motion and slight pressure to work the insemination gun through the rings of the cervix. Do not penetrate the cervix more than 1.5 inches
Deposit the semen slowly by pushing the plunger forward. Remove the insemination gun slowly and remove the speculum.
Record all important information in a breeding journal.
Artificial insemination is a powerful tool that can allow goat breeders the flexibility to increase the rate of genetic improvement in their herds. Although A.I. is a powerful tool, it requires proper technique and attention to detail for a high level of success. With good heat detection, records and semen handling techniques, individuals can become successful A.I. technicians.

Collection Companies Who Service North Alabama

Cam Faircloth
3279 Old 138 SW
Monroe GA 30655
(770) 787-2690

Superior Semen Works
Geoff & Nancy Masterman
711 Poe Rd.
Bucyrus, OH 44820
603-512-5546
Email: superiorsemenworks@yahoo.com

Adapted from Guide D-704
John F. Smith, Extension Dairy Specialist
College of Agriculture and Home Economics New Mexico State University
 

 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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