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Do I need an incubator?

Ask questions, and get some insight into frozen semen, it's preparation and use.

Moderator: Jos

Do I need an incubator?

Postby Dutchy19 » Tue May 06, 2014 5:37 pm

We normally breed with frozen semen. Our vet used to use the same equipment as with our dairy cows (load the straw into the gun), however I find it doesn't make much sense to load a stallion whose dosage requires 11 straws. I was taught that an incubator with a test tube would do the trick - suck them into the syringe from there. Is there anything wrong with emptying the straws (after they have been thawed) directly into the syringe that is being kept warm by someones hands? Also looked into the warming blocks (tube incubators??), but unsure if you can adjust temperature, or how they work. Thoughts anyone???
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Re: Do I need an incubator?

Postby Jos » Wed May 07, 2014 9:36 pm

There are two possible ways of doing this (well, probably more, but these are the two we use).

The first is, as you say, to decant the straws into a container and then suction them up into an insemination pipette and syringe. To do this, you will need to thaw each straw separately (although they can be done in the same water bath - just don't throw them in in one clump as they'll freeze together and not thaw well), then drain them into a suitable container. We use a 15-ml centrifuge tube, or an orange-topped Vacutainer (blood tube) - make sure it's the one without anything in it such as an anticoagulant or a clotting agent. When doing this, I usually tuck the tube into my trouser waist, on the inside, where it warms to body temperature, and then once the semen is transferred, I keep it there until it's time to put it in the pipette/syringe. this is despite the fact that we do have a (in fact several!) incubators. It also allows me to keep the semen at (or close to) body temperature until moments before insemination.

The drawback with the above method is that you will lose some of the semen on the inside of the straws and container. If you are using 11 ½-ml straws, you will have 5½ ml of semen, so the loss will be minimal relative to the entire dose. If however one is dealing with an insemination "dose" of just 2 ½ ml straws that loss is a very different matter...

So that brings us to the second technique, which is to use the Minitube "Universal" pipette system. This allows a straw to be loaded on a stylette and placed within a pipette, which is then in turn placed into the mare. The stylette is pushed home, and this displaces the wick and powder plug in the proximal end of the straw (the other end of the straw has been cut open) and in turn that displaces the semen into the mare's uterus. Here's the clever bit... Once the semen is displaced, the stylette is withdrawn from the pipette which is kept inside the mare. The used straw is still on the end of the stylette, and can be removed, and another straw loaded into the pipette for insemination. Again - the pipette is left in the mare's uterus during this process, which is repeated until all the semen has been deposited, at which time the pipette is removed.

The drawback with this second technique is that it is so effective that there is no semen left for evaluation! On rare occasions, some semen may be left within the distal end of the pipette but the pipette is designed to allow attachment of the a syringe, so the trick there is to have a syringe with about 5 ml of warmed extender handy, and when all the semen is deposited, just inseminate the extender before removing the pipette, which will flush out any remaining semen.

So no, you don't really need an incubator for this process, although it can be useful in other aspects.
We're always happy to try and help, but don't forget to check the articles section
of the website too, which has a search engine to help you look for answers!
:)
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Re: Do I need an incubator?

Postby katehanson » Fri May 16, 2014 11:20 pm

We use the minitube method and love it. It's easy and less handling of the semen. We don't have an incubator and so far, haven't needed one. Minitube also offers a pipette with a catheter. You insert the catheter and once in place the pipette is inserted into the catheter. I like the other one Jos described better.
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Re: Do I need an incubator?

Postby Prunus1 » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:52 am

Indeed, the Minitube system for the Insemination of frozen-thawed semen works quite well and you would not have any semen left for analysis. Be happy if you have a second person to have a look at it - or you take a drop before insemintaion, are very fast in inseminating and than rush into the lab... :D
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Re: Do I need an incubator?

Postby Horseworld » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:18 pm

If you use the stylette with always only one straw at a time, where do you keep the other straws between thawing and use?
Do you thaw them all at once and leave them in the water bath or in your chest pocket or do you thaw each of them individually?
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Re: Do I need an incubator?

Postby Jos » Sat Aug 08, 2015 10:13 am

It will depend upon ambient temperature. With temperatures here in Oklahoma currently in the high 90's, we don't need to worry about where to keep them! :) Earlier in the year however, we either leave them in the water bath or else make sure that we have them kept in a body temperature location such as wrapped in one's (warm) hand, or kept close to one in a shirt pocket.
We're always happy to try and help, but don't forget to check the articles section
of the website too, which has a search engine to help you look for answers!
:)
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