Last year our we collected our stud of the side of mares and live covered both. We used an 18" AV. This year we decided to strictly use the phantom. We sent him to be trained to the phantom, which went really well, but it was discovered that he prefers a 22" AV. So we have been using a 22" AV this year and collection has gone well - we have 3 mares in foal so far. He does not have much volume though, and I am wondering if the AV might be too tight? When I check it after filling it, it seems tight at the end, but that is how he seems to like it. Also, could the fact that the gel filter is not necessarily "open" enough and letting the semen filter through properly. Once we collect him, I immediatly take the gel filter out so the sperm won't be exposed to it too long - should I wait a little longer? Last year he produced more volume (around 40-50mL), but this year sometimes all we get is 10 mL. I know the concentration is all that really matters (I don't have a sperm counter), but just looking through the microscope, it seems to be very concentrated. We are just about to start having to breed around 3 mares a collection, and a little more volume would be nice. So could the AV tightness be an issue, the gel filter needing to be more open, need to wait longer before removing the gel filter? I know the temperature sometimes can mean more to the stud than the pressure, but I have not changed the pressure because it has worked so far, but if anyone knows from experience that an AV that is too tight restricts him in any way, I will try a little less pressure. I just don't want to "fix" something that is not necessarily broken - I would just like some more volume. Oh, and we are collecting no more than every other day, sometimes longer time periods when there are no mares to be bred and we are feeding him the supplement Magnitude. Thanks!
You can't determine concentration by looking at it under the microscope unless you're using a hemacytometer or other counting device.
Think about it and you will understand the simplicity of this. If you take two drops of semen from the same sample, but when you drop it on the microscope slide one of the samples is twice as deep as the other (and remember, we're dealing in microns of depth here, not even millimetres), then that sample will look twice as concentrated as the other, even though they are both exactly the same.
Volume doesn't mean anything by itself, and nor for that matter does concentration. It's only when it's multiplied with the concentration to give you total sperm numbers that it has a meaning.
Bottom line? You need to start counting the sperm to get the concentration.
Having said that, one possible explanation for the reduced volume is that the less teasing that goes on, the less secondary sex gland secretion - and that secretion is (in part) seminal plasma, which increases volume. Hence, if he is not being teased as much (maybe only mentally, not necessarily physically) because he is getting the job done faster, then you may be getting less in the way of seminal plasma.
As far as reduction in exposure to gel fraction - keep doing what you're doing. Gel fraction is likely to be toxic to the sperm, so the faster you get it out of there, the better. If you are getting a clog at the gel filter however, with sperm-rich portion getting displaced by the gel (and therefore not making it through the filter to the bottle) then obviously that could reduce both volume and sperm number. We like to use the "Playtex" baby bottle as our collection bottle, as it has a wide mouth and is less likely to clog, and additionally as it has no bottom (you use a disposable bottle liner!) it doesn't air-lock as a closed bottom bottle can. We use the wide mouth filter from Exodus Breeder Supply - item 170, as it fits the Playtex bottle, and also doesn't clog like some other filters do (but still filters well!).
Ok, ok, so I see what you are saying about the concentration. But still my main concern is the volume. At the beginning of the season (when he was still at the other facility being trained to mount the phantom) - he was giving 60-70 mL per collection, so I know he should be producing more.
We collected him again today, we teased him with two mares, one was hot in heat. He got all excited as usual. So, we took him out of his pen and led him over to the phantom, and when he was ready, we let him mount. But again, we only got 10 mL of semen. I took the gel filter out quickly and there was really nothing in there. So I am assuming it is a comfort issue...maybe the AV is too tight and binding him? There is definitely a good amount of sperm in the ejaculate, but I am thinking he is giving us an incomplete collection because something is off. Could it be just because he is not excited enough? What is your experience with this? Have you ever had it happen?
Ok, I am getting the ejaculate tested soon (probably tomorrow), and I will let you know. I definitely have no problem with him producing less if the concentration is good, it just seemed odd that the volume went down so much in one season. I just don't want the AV to be too tight or something simple and cause him to be giving us incomplete collections. I also wondered if it could get trapped up in the AV? I sure don't want him to get discouraged from mounting the dummy. But he seems to be finishing the job, he is completely relaxed when he is done and stays up there for a while before he gets down. I will get the numbers and get back with you.
Unless the incompletion is very incomplete (how many sperm? ), an incomplete ejaculate is not really a major issue as the perm are ejaculated in the first three or so ejaculatory spurts. It's the seminal plasma that is ejaculated in the tail fraction of the ejaculate, and that is what increases the volume, but is not essential for pregnancy establishment (in fact, can be detrimental in some situations).
I have a new hemacytometer that has never been out of the package. I bought a counter, so would be interested in selling this if you are interested. If so, you may email me at email@example.com. Did you sell your 18" AV? The rubber in mine is sticking together, and I may need to buy a new one.
So we got his semen checked yesterday and wouldn't you know he produced 3 times the volume he normally does! We had to collect him 5 days in a row, Thursday through this Monday (which I know is a lot for a 4-year-old stallion, but we had to). Anyway, he gave us 25 mL the first 4 times, then 10 mL the last collection on Monday. So we collected him yesterday and got around 75 mL and the concentration was 100 million/mL. I am not sure what caused the increase in volume this time? So weird...
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