Artificial insemination process in pigs

When using semen collected on-farm or buying it from an artificial insemination (AI) centre, successful insemination depends on

  • detecting oestrus in sows
  • insemination timing
  • correct technique
  • storing and handling semen correctly

Detecting oestrus

During a sow’s 50-60 hour oestrus or heat period she will mate but she is only very fertile for 24-32 hours.

Familiarity with signs during proestrus, oestrus and peak fertility ensures that insemination can occur during the best possible time frame.

Timing

The timing of insemination of sows is central to success in an artificial insemination breeding program.

Sperm and eggs are viable for only a limited period of time, so to achieve the best results perform inseminations within these time limits.

Correct technique

Using the correct insemination technique increases your chances of success. The technique should imitate natural mating as closely as possible. For CAI cleaning the area around the sow’s vulva, manually stimulating the sow in the presence of a boar to induce the mating stance and careful insertion of the catheter will help to obtain a positive outcome.

When using the PCAI method the sow should be stimulated by a mature boar and then allowed to relax for 30 minutes before insemination procedures commence The vulva should be should be cleaned to ensure particles and micro-organisms are not passed into the uterine body.

Boar stimulation during insemination is not required.

Storing and handling semen

Use the correct equipment and take care of equipment when collecting boar semen.

AI success can be compromised by poor quality semen, due to:

  • rough handling
  • temperature changes
  • delays in transport
  • exposure to light.

Tips for success

  • When handling the sow, be firm but not aggressive.
  • Ensure staff are trained in the movement and handling of pigs.
  • Implement sound WHS practices.
  • If a sow or gilt first stands to back pressure in the morning when near a boar, inseminate late in the afternoon of the same day and again the following morning.
  • If a sow or gilt stands in the afternoon, inseminate her the following morning and again late that afternoon.
  • If only doing a single insemination, inseminate her the following morning and again late that afternoon.
  • If mucous is present, it should be creamy in colour rather than clear. If it is clear, it is too early to inseminate.
  • Use clean equipment for every insemination and ensure the sow is adequately stimulated before insemination.
  • Carefully lock the catheter into the cervix and be patient and allow the semen to flow slowly.
  • When using the CAI method, continue stimulating the sow during insemination and continue to handle the sow firmly but not aggressively
  • When using the PCAI method allow the sow to relax for 30 minutes after inter action with the spotter boar before commencing the insemination procedure.
  • When using PCAI method do not stimulate sow by boar contact during insemination.
  • Be alert for catheter blockages and semen back-flow.
  • Record date and time of actions plus identity of inseminator for future reference.