I just got the news from the person who is storing my frozen semen that the straws were accidentally dropped into the bottom of the tank when they were moving and they are still sittiing in the liquid nitrogen. I was told that the straws are fine, but I can't get them until they get them out of the nitrogen, which will be awhile before they have time to do that. I have no experience with frozen, this is from my own stallion. So, can someone please tell me if this is indeed the case? The semen will be fine? I thought I should ask BEFORE I pay the storage bill!
I would want my straws to be in the liquid nitrogen, unless it would be in a vapor shipper. You just don't want it laying outside the can very long unless it's in the intended animal. I would still ask that they take some of the storage bill off since that would put you have put you to some financial disadvantage. I'm just saying what if your horse was in heat and needed it at that moment you would be out of a colt that much longer.
Sorry Terry - I disagree with you on the concern about the straws being outside the canister and having to be in the liquid nitrogen...
As long as the tank has not gone dry (i.e. run out of nitrogen) - which would not be associated with this current problem - it is highly unlikely that there will be a problem with the straws.
Susan - to explain what's (almost certainly) happened in a bit more detail, in case you're not aware of how frozen semen is stored:
Here's what a tank looks like on the inside:
You can see that it has 6 canisters in the center, and it is in these that the semen straws normally reside. Surrounding the canisters is an area where there is a combination of liquid ntrogen gas and vapour. If the semen is packed in 5-ml straws they are loose within the canister. If it is in 0.5-ml straws, they are typically packed within a little container called a goblet, and the goblets are packed two to a cane (sometimes they are stored loose in bulk, which can be more likely to lead to them floating out of the canister when the tank is filled with nitrogen and into the outer portion of the tank free as yours are).
What has happened is that your straw has somehow (there are a variety of ways this can happen, and it's really annoying when it does!) managed to find it's way outside the canister, and is now loose in the tank. In order to get the straw back, one has to wait until the nitrogen level has dropped sufficiently to allow one to put forceps or some other form of holding device into the nitrogen to recapture the errant straw. This is fairly easily achieved in a wide-mouth tank where one can place one's hand inside the tank, but if it's a narrow-neck tank, then that is a different matter. In the case of the narrow-neck tank it is usually easiest to transfer all the other semen canisters to another tank, and then tip up the tank with the loose straw in and hope that it is poured out into another container along with the nitrogen that is being poured. Of course, they invariably get caught cross-wise in the neck and it takes multiple attempts to get the darned things!!
Now - onto what I was taking issue with above...
Nitrogen tanks are so designed that the vapour is circulated to a great extent within the tank (notice the curved top to the inner portin of hte container). This ensures that the non-liquid nitrogen portion of the tank is also kept extremely cold. If one checks the upper portion of a tank with a thermocouple (a device capable of measuring extremes in temperature) one will typically find that the temperature is -190° C - which is only 6° warmer than the liquid nitrogen itself. It is perfectly normal that semen tanks are not going to be completely full. In fact, they are reputed to be able to maintain the sufficiently low temperature to preserve semen appropriately with as little as 1" of liquid nitrogen in the bottom - not that I would ever try out that theory!!!! We typically top off our tanks once a week at the storage location, and when the tanks that we carry in the mobile unit on the road get to somewhere between ½ and ¼ full. This is standard policy in the industry and perfectly acceptable.
If you are wanting to breed your mare and the semen is not available because it is in the bottom of the tank and they will not retrieve it, then yes, I would be more than a little vocal in my complaints - it can be retrieved if it has to be, it's just more of a nuisance to have to drain off nitrogen into another container. If this is a reasonably competent and efficient operation they should have access to spare tanks anyway (note: if they are storing semen and don't have access to spare tanks, it would make me a little uncomfortable, as if a tank shows signs of failing, you want to know that the facility has access to another tank into which to transfer the semen before the tank fails completely and loses the nitrogen and therefore the semen!!!) - so if you need your semen to breed a mare right now, start yelling louder!
Thank you so much!!! I am completely unaware of how this works, I just knew I should have some frozen available! I really appreciate your responses, I feel much more comfortable now!! Thanks again!
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