Artificial insemination (AI) allows a single ram to serve more ewes than he would be able to naturally. Ewes are synchronised allowing a more compact lambing time, more efficient use of labour and the production of uniform batches of lambs for shows and sales. The purchase of frozen semen allows expensive rams to be used to increase the rate of genetic gain and is more cost effective than purchasing an expensive ram. Rams from anywhere in the country or indeed the world can be used! Reducing reliance on bought in rams reduces the possibility for disease transmission and aids in the management of closed flocks. Rams can be shared over a large geographical area without the need for transport.
AI in sheep is usually performed laparoscopically. Ewes are first synchronised with hormones to ensure they come into season at the same time. They are then starved overnight and on AI day they are loaded into crates. The vet uses a laparoscope to visualise the uterus through the abdominal wall and injects semen directly into each uterine horn.
Semen can be collected from your own rams on the day of AI. This is assessed under the microscope to ensure it is of sufficient quality. This can then be diluted and used to inseminate up 50 ewes from one jump. It is important to have a backup plan if your chosen tup isn’t good enough. Either another tup or frozen semen.
Conception rates for frozen AI are usually 65% + and for fresh AI greater than 70%.
See price list for current fees. The minimum on farm charge is £500.