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Storing AI on Farm

21 August 2012, at 12:00am

Steve Cook, JSR Genetics' AI Production Manager, provides useful advice on storing AI on farm, focussing especially on temperature control.

To help maintain farm bio-security not just for yourself but for others, it is highly advisable to have a semen drop off point away from the main pig unit or at least away from areas that are crossed with other farm vehicles.

The best option is for a temperature controlled box at 17°C – either connected to the mains or a 12v car battery, which is regularly charged – so if the semen is dropped off in the early hours of the morning it will be stored correctly until a member of staff can collect it and place it in the storage unit on farm.

The next best option is for the semen to be placed in an insulated box and arrange for a member of staff to receive a text message from the courier driver to say the semen has been delivered so it can be collected and placed in the temperature controlled box inside the farm as soon as possible.

The storage box itself should be capable of maintaining a constant temperature of 17°C ± 2°C even during the hottest and coldest times of the year. A very common mistake is to assume that just because the digital reading on the box/cabinet says 17°C that it is 17°C, these box/cabinets will change over the years, so what was correct once does not mean it is still correct.

Using maximum and minimum thermometers inside the box will indicate the actual temperature. There are two types of thermometers, the liquid type and digital type. It is best to use both types at the same time; the digital type, which will display the temperature both inside and outside the box and is a very visual display to indicate immediately if something is wrong, this will also record the maximum and minimum temperatures over the last 24 hours (if the thermometer is reset each day). This is useful to see if the box/cabinet is getting either to hot or cold in the extreme temperatures of the day. These temperatures should be recorded each day so there is a record should any future problems arise. The liquid thermometer is used inside the box/cabinet to see if the high or low temperatures recorded on the digital thermometer have been maintained over a sustained period of time as the liquid will take longer to react to sudden short changes in temperature, i.e. the lid/door being open for a short period of time which can be recorded as higher/lower temperatures on the digital thermometer.

If the box/cabinet temperature varies during a 24-hour period it may be advisable to clean the box/cabinet inside and out. This will ensure the vents are free of dust or other objects, which will reduce its cooling or heating capacity and also to allow the air to flow freely over the heating cooling elements and circulate evenly inside the box/cabinet. Eventually, this would lead to the unit breaking down altogether resulting in costly repairs. It may need to be moved to an area that is not so dirty or susceptible to outside temperatures, such as the tea room rather than an outside barn near the service area. If you are in any doubt, JSR can send a temperature recording device to place in the box/cabinet to record the temperature over a period of two or three days this can produce a detailed graph to show the temperature fluctuations.

The semen stored on farm needs to be re-suspended twice daily otherwise it will be adversely affected. When semen is stored in the box/cabinet, it can easily be seen collected in a corner of the flat pack, if it is not re-suspended then is has very little access to the nutrients contained in the diluent and its shelf life will be shortened quite drastically.

“Happy inseminating!” added Mr Cook.

August 2012