Application of laparoscopic artificial insemination in conventional Lacaune sheep farm using frozen-thawed semen

The complex anatomical structure of the ewe reproductive tract accompanied with low quality of frozen ram semen for artificial insemination, resulted in a challenge with regard to using superior genotypes for reproductive ovine performance. Hence, improved genetics in ovine management has not been efficiently and widely used especially in undeveloped countries. Therefore, intrauterine semen deposition by laparoscopic insemination should be adopted in the current sheep production systems. Thus, this study aimed to assess the pregnancy rate and lambing rate of ewe inseminated by laparoscopic insemination techniques using frozen-thawed semen. The research used imported frozen semen from two rams of the Lacaune breed. Ewes were grouped according to age in years (1, 2 and 4). Before insemination, the semen was examined microscopically for its motility and viability and thereafter the laparoscopic artificial insemination technique was performed to 19 Lacaune breed ewes using frozen-thawed semen. The overall pregnancy and prolificacy rates were 31.57% and 42.10% respectively. Out of 2 ewes in the 1-year age group that were inseminated, only 1 ewe lambed representing 50%. However, from 16 ewes inseminated of four-year age group, 5 ewes lambed representing 31.25%. Significant difference based on age group was not evaluated due disproportionate of the data, (such that the data included 2 ewes in one-year-old age, 1 ewe in 2-year-old age and 16 ewes in 4-year-old age). Based on the ram semen, 33.33% and 30% of the inseminated ewes were pregnant from ram A and ram B semen respectively. However, in the case of prolificacy rate, 44.44% and 40 % of the ewes lambed from using semen of ram A and B, respectively. There was no significant difference (p>0.05) in pregnancy and prolificacy rates based on semen from the two rams. In conclusion, in this research study, ram semen had no significant effect on pregnancy and prolificacy rates using laparoscopic AI on Lacaune sheep. This could be due to the fact that the rams had very good quality semen. Evaluation of ram semen, accompanied with appropriate ewe selection based on age and rightful deposition of semen could lead to better and more consistent results. Overall this could contribute to the successful application of laparoscopic artificial insemination in Lacaune sheep production systems for enhanced productivity.

Age of puberty and conception rates of Hungarian Merino, (Merino x Somali) F1 and (Merino x Barbados Blackbelly) F1 ewes

The aim of our examination was to detect the puberty of the Hungarian Merino and its hairsheep crossbred ewes, and also to determine their average conception rates after having ram exposed in May and June. Hormon diagnostation was used to evaluate the exact date of the very first ovulation. Ultrasound technique was used for checking the conception rates of ewes. The pregnancy detection was applied after a month of the date of taking off the ram.
We evaluated the ages of ewes at puberty. Statistical deviation and standard error were calculated. The results proved the Hungarian Merino x Somali (N=10), ((x ± s) = 173 ± 43) and also the Hungarian Merino x Barbados Blackbelly crossbred genotypes (N=7), ((x ± s) = 186 ± 19) have their puberty much earlier as compared to the fullbred Hungarian Merino ewes (N=10), ((x ± s) = 231 ± 95). We experienced the highest conception rate in the group of the (Hungarian Merino x Somali) F1 ewes after exposing the ram in the „out-of season” period of time.

Effect of noninvasive castration method on weight gain, behavior and meat quality of ram lambs

In the course of producing heavyweight lambs (above 35 kg), males need to be separated from females at the end of the fattening period.  If not, the rams must be castrated because they reach sexual maturity, and their activity bothers the ewes or unwanted pregnancy may occur. The present study surveys if the Hungarian sheep keepers know or use the non-surgical elastrator method for castration and assess the effect of castration (surgical and non-surgical) on daily weight gain, behavior, moving activity, and meat quality of rams, respectively. We found many advantages regarding the use of the elastrator method. Based on the survey results, 100% of farmers who used elastrator had a positive experience and favorable opinion about this method. There is no need to separate the rams, which allows for less area requirement and more economical technological conditions. The traditional castration (with a knife) process is longer (4–6 minutes), and caused longer-lasting stress while the elastrator application is bloodless, took only 20–30 seconds, and were stress-free. The number of steps of ring-gelded individuals was much lower than that of the non-castrated rams. The difference in steps number could also be seen in ewes separated into different ram groups. The weight gains of individuals castrated by the ring were better than the surgically castrated ones and also individuals with testicles. The palatability of the meat from the non-castrated group was less favorable, and the chewiness of the ringed group was the best. Finally, our results highlighted the benefits of the noninvasive elastrator method in animal welfare aspects.

Storage of ram semen in gelatin supplemented extender

The aim of our study was to examine how different gelatin concentrations affect ram semens viability in liquid storage at 5 oC for five days. Our hypothesis was if we add gelatin to the semen extender, than the viability of ram semen will be better in the extenders containing gelatin, than the control. We used two different semen extenders:1.5% UHT milk and 1.5% UHT milk + 5% egg yolk. We added 0; 0.5; 1.0; 1.5; 2.0% Dr. Oetker gelatin to the semen extenders. We stored the semen for five days at 5 oC and in every 24 hour we made sampling.
We stained the smears with Kovács-Foote staining and evaluated them with light-microscope. We categorized the cells in five groups like: live and intact cells, live cells with injured acrosome, dead cells, live head with dead tail and live tail with dead head. We used one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) to assign how gelatin concentration affects the number of the categorized cells. On the fifth day, the viability was the best in the following semen extenders: 1.5% fat UHT milk + 1.0% gelatin and 1.5% fat UHT milk + 1.5% gelatin, but it was not significant (p>0.05).

Examination of Fattening and Slaughtering Performance of Hungarian Merino, Ile de France F1 and Suffolk F1 Lambs

In our examination, we evaluated Hungarian Merino (ram n=30, ewe n=30), Ile de France F1 (ram n=10, ewe n=10) and Suffolk F1 (ram n=10, ewe n=10) lambs. The best fattening performance was shown by the Ile de France F1 lambs (361 g/day). After the fattening period, Hungarian Merino, Ile de France F1 and Suffolk F1 genotypes lambs were slaughtered with a live weight of 30-34 kg. Carcasses were evaluated for dressing percentage, weight of valuable carcass cuts, percentage of valuable meat, bone to meat ratio, as well as meat conformation and fat cover (S/EUROP grading).
The slaughter performance proved to be the best for the Suffolk F1 concerned dressing percentage (51,7%), percentage valuable carcass cuts (81,9%). The best percentage valuable meat presented (79,4%) the Ile de France F1 lambs. The best meat conformation and fat covered were in the Suffolk F1 lambs; Hungarian Merinos showed less favourable results.
Presently, the results derived from Hungarian practice that Hungarian Merino lambs are not eligible for fattening to great live body weight (30 kg). Therefore, it is necessary to revise the Hungarian Merino lambs with meat sheep breeds.

Analysis of small ruminants’ semen under the cooling, deep-freezing and sex-orientation method

The aim of this study was to examine the influence of cooling, deep-freezing and sex-orientation methods on fertility of ram and buck semen. It was pointed out that deep-freezing and sexorientation methods had a more considerable destruction on both semen compared with the effect of cooling method. However, with the development of the sex-orientation method, the results of  lambing had a significant increase in sheep. On the other hand, the NRR of the inseminations with deep-frozen ram semen exceeded most of previously publicated results. Being interesting, and hopefully useful benefit in practice that the analysed buck semen samples are shown more favourable results in all methods compared with the same results of rams.

Ovarian performance of Barbados Blackbelly and Dorper crossbred ewes in the mirror of body conditions

The aim of examination was to detect the puberty and to follow the ovarian cycle of Barbados Blackbelly×Dorper ewes in connection with their body conditions and the effects of meteorological parameters. The blood samples had been taken from 17th of November 2008 untill 08th of June 2009 for analyzing the progesteron concentrations, establishing whether they showed perpetual ovarian performance or not. The end of examination
was timed due to releasing the ram in middle of May 2009.
The daily avarage bodyweight-growth is well featured by the bodyweight tendence. The body conditions were evaluated by ultrasound tissue examination. 
During the full length of the examination the avarage daily temperature, the avarage humidity level and also the number of daily sunlighted hours were served by the Agrometeorological Observatory of the University of Debrecen.
The bodyweight tendence and the meteorological parameters were correlated to the breeding season of ewes. In conclusion the bodyweights and their tendences at the young age and the body condition parameters measured at certain anatomical areas can influence the length of the breeding season of the ewes. However the number of daily avarage sunlighted hours, the daily avarage temperature and also the humidity did not effect the cyclic ovarian perfomance of the Barbados Blackbelly×Dorper ewes in Hungary.

Tenability of ram semen

It could be stated that the diluted semen of Awassi rams taken in the breeding season preserved its fertilizing abilityat different temperatures for different periods of time. The motility of spermatozoa kept at 23 vs. 8oC was checked daily. The largest spread of data was observed 24 hours after taking the semen, then the motility rate of cells showed a linear decrease. Motility results of fresh and frozen-thawed samples were compared also after heat resistance test and significant differences were found between these groups. Significant individual differences were observedin the sperm motility after heat resistance test.

Evaluation of deep-frozen ram semen from different sheep breeds with live/dead acrosome staining

It was found that the Kovács – Foote staining is properly adopted to examine deep-frozen ram’s semen. Data are appropriate for comparison. Examination of one ram’s semen per breed is not enough for drawing any conclusions; therefore, I will continue this research.

Seasonal variations in somereproductive parameters of Dorper Rams in Hungary

The purpose of the present study was to test the hypothesis that season has an affect on semen quality and scrotal circumference of Dorper rams. The experiment was carried out with six Dorper rams aged between 15 and 18 month. Semen samples were collected with artificial vagina and volume, concentration (x 109/ml), total sperm number/ejaculate (x 109), mass motility (0–5), progressive motility (%), scrotal circumference (cm) was observed. Significant differences (P<0.05) were observed in concentration, total sperm number/ejaculate, scrotal circumference in different seasons. Volume was the highest in autumn (1.4±0.5 ml) and the lowest in the spring (1.3±0.4 ml). Concentration of semen was lower in spring (2.6±1.5 x 109) and summer (3.3±1.5 x 109) as compared to fall (4.1±1.1 x 109) (P<0.05). Regarding total sperm number/ejaculate (x 109), scrotal circumference (cm) all the seasons differed significantly (P<0.05), although the season had no effect on mass motility and progressive individual motility (P<0.05). In conclusion the present study showed that semen quality parameters and scrotal circumference of Dorper rams were better in autumn than in the other sea- sons.

Evaluation of the factors determining the profit of lamb fattening

Lamb fattening in the past 8 years was generally a loss-making business and it was worth selling only in two weight categories – at 24-27 kg and at 27-30 kg –, because in this categories a modest profit could be achieved in most of the years. Selling lambs at 20-24 kg-weight provides a proper income for the sheep farmers only if the milking period is prolonged. If the lambs are weaned at a weight of 16-20 kg, then they are not worth selling them in this weight category. The profit of fattening ram lambs is higher and safer than that of ewe lambs. In Hungary, the profitability of lamb fattening is insecure due to the large variability in purchase prices and the instability of the market. When studying the profitability of the two genders combined, it can be stated that the summer fattening period was the most profitable, while if only the rams are considered then the profitability of the autumn and spring periods was the highest, which is due to Easter and Christmas lambs. Based on our results, we came to the conclusion that ewe lambs and rams should be sold at a lower and higher weight category, respectively.