Maternal Mortality: Case Reviews and Lessons
Learned from the Global Partnerships and the
Maternal Fetal Medicine Scientific Forum on
Department of veterinary medicine and animal sciences, University of Gondar, Ethiopia
Submission: June 10, 2019; Published: August 14, 2019
*Corresponding author: Zekarias Mengistu, Department of veterinary medicine and animal sciences, University of Gondar, Ethiopia
How to cite this article: Zekarias Mengistu. Maternal Mortality: Case Reviews and Lessons
Learned from the Global Partnerships and the
Maternal Fetal Medicine Scientific Forum on
Global Health. Glob J Reprod Med. 2019; 6(5): 555700. DOI:10.19080/GJORM.2019.06.555700.
Artificial insemination (AI) has been defined as a process by which sperm is collected from the male, processed, stored, and artificially introduced into the female reproductive tract for the purpose of conception. The first successful AI was performed in Italy in 1780 and over 100 years later, in 1890, it was used for horse breeding. In Ethiopia, AI was introduced in 1938 in Asmara, then part of Ethiopia, which was interrupted due to the Second World War and restarted in 1952.
AI has many advantages including prevention of reproductive diseases, control of inbreeding, minimizing the cost of keeping bulls for natural service and others, however, it has disadvantages such as poor conception rates due to poor heat detection and inefficiency of AI technicians, dissemination of reproductive diseases and poor fertility rates if AI centers are not equipped with appropriate inputs & are not well managed.
The selection criteria of bulls for AI service must include record-based pedigree information, individual performance as regularly recorded starting from the time of birth, which should include birth weight, subsequent weight increments and later on progeny testing and general health status should also be parts of the selection criteria. Appropriate and specialized facilities, equipment’s, and procedures have been used during collection of semen to prevent injury to the bulls and their handlers, to maximize the physiological responsiveness of the bulls in producing semen and to enhance the quantity and the quality of the semen that can be collected.
Standard semen collection procedures normally include sexual stimulation and sexual preparation. Semen has been collected in a number of ways like recovery, massage, vaginal insert and electro ejaculation and the methods of collection are governed by the intended purpose for future use. In the cow, maximum fertility has been achieved if inseminated from mid estrus to the end of estrus. Fertility rate is a measurement that combines the effects of semen quality, fertility of the cow, timing of insemination, semen handling and insemination techniques, as well as factors such as high environmental temperature and stress. Generally, AI service in Ethiopia has been given little or no emphasis though it is an important and the most widely practiced animal biotechnology all over the world.
The total cattle population for the rural sedentary areas of Ethiopia is estimated to be 43.12million, of which 55.41% are females. Out of the total female cattle population, only 151,344 (0.35%) and 19,263 (0.04%) heads are hybrid and exotic breeds, respectively. With an average lactation length of 6 months and an average daily milk production of 1.44 liters per cow, the total milk produced during the year 2006/07 was recorded to be 2.634 billion liters. This suggests that the total number of both exotic and hybrid female cattle produced through the crossbreeding work for many decades in the country is quite insignificant indicating unsuccessful crossbreeding work. This again suggests that Ethiopia needs to work hard on improving the work of productive and reproductive performance improvements of cattle through appropriate breeding and related activities .
In spite of the presence of large and diverse animal genetic resources, the productivity (i.e., meat and milk) of livestock remains low in many developing countries including Ethiopia for various reasons such as inadequate nutrition, poor genetic potential, inadequate animal health services, and other management related problems .Cattle breeding are mostly uncontrolled in Ethiopia making genetic improvement difficult and an appropriate bull selection criterion have not yet been established, applied and controlled .
Although, artificial insemination, the most commonly used and valuable biotechnology, . has been in operation in Ethiopia for over 30 years, the efficiency and impact of the operation has not been well-documented . Reproductive problems related to crossbreed dairy cows under farmers’ conditions are immense . It is widely believed that the AI service in the country has not
been successful to improve reproductive performance of dairy
industry . The problem is more aggravated by wrong selection
and management of AI bulls along with poor motivations and
skills of inseminators .
A successful breeding program requires an effective and
sustainable method of transferring genetic materials from one
population to another. This can be performed through either
natural service (NS) or reproductive technologies including
artificial insemination (AI), embryo transfer, invitro maturation
and fertilization and cloning. However, AI is the most practical
reproductive technology to be used in developing countries .
Therefore, the objective of this paper is to review the available
literatures and provide integrated information on history of
AI, advantages and disadvantages of AI, recruitment of semen
producing bulls, Semen collection and assessment of ejaculates,
and application of AI of cattle.
Ethiopia has an estimated cattle population of about 41.5
million heads. Around 99.45 are indigenous breeds with very
few hybrids, 0.5%, and exotic 0.1%. Cattle production together
with the production of other livestock sectors has been known to
be an important component of the agricultural sector. Livestock
contributes much by providing meat, milk, cheese, butter, export
commodities (live animals, hides and skins), draught power,
manure, near-cash capital stock . It is known that not enough
selection and improvement for productivity has been performed
on the indigenous cattle. Nevertheless, the indigenous cattle are
known to have special merit of coping with the harsh environments
of the country. On the other hand, the high performing exotic
cattle cannot cope with the harsh environments of the country.
Therefore, improvement on the indigenous cattle for productivity
without losing traits, which are essential for survival, has been
Artificial insemination (AI) has been defined as a process
by which sperm is collected from the male, processed, stored,
and artificially introduced into the female reproductive tract for
the purpose of conception . Semen is collected from the bull,
deep-frozen and stored in a container with Liquid Nitrogen at a
temperature of minus 196 degrees Centigrade and made for use.
Artificial insemination has become one of the most important
techniques ever devised for the genetic improvement of farm
animals. It has been widely used for breeding dairy cattle as
the most valuable management practice available to the cattle
producer and has made bulls of high genetic merit available to all
In livestock rearing, the producer makes efficient use of the
generous supply of sperm available from an individual male
in a manner that greatly increases genetic progress, as well as
improving reproductive efficiency in many situations. Today, many
bulls have been reported to produce sufficient semen to provide
enough sperm for 40,000 breeding units in one year. Using the
long-accepted standard of 10 x 106 motile sperm at the time of
insemination with an average initial motility of 60% and a 33.3%
loss of sperm during freezing and thawing, the number of breeding
units would entail 1 x 1012 total sperm.
By using sexual stimulation and more frequent collections,
many sperm have been obtained from most bulls in a year without
adversely affecting conception rate . The use of AI in Ethiopia is
growing but estrus detection is difficult owing to poorly expressed
estrus of Zebu breeds. The short duration and low intensity of
estrus signs in Ethiopian Zebu cattle caused most estrus detection
failures which indicate a need for the use of current advances in AI
such as estrus synchronization .
History of Artificial Insemination: The first successful
AI was performed in Italy in 1780 and over 100 years later, in
1890, it was used for horse breeding . In Russia, however, the
method was first taken up seriously as a means of improving farm
animals . According to the history of AI is interesting in that
old Arabian documents dated around 1322 A.D . indicate that
an Arab chieftain wanted to mate his prize mare to an outstanding
stallion owned by an enemy. He introduced a wand of cotton into
the mare’s reproductive tract, and then used it to sexually excite
the stallion causing him to ejaculate.
The semen was introduced into the mare resulting in
conception. Spallanzani has been recognized as the inventor of AI.
His scientific reports of 1780 have indicated successful use of AI
in dogs. In 1899, Ivanoff of Russia pioneered AI research in horses,
cattle and sheep, and was apparently the first to successfully
inseminate cattle artificially. Mass breeding of cows via AI was
first accomplished in Russia where 19,800 cows were bred in
1931 . Denmark was the first European country to establish an
AI cooperative association in of New Jersey visited the AI facilities
in Denmark and established the first United States AI cooperative
in 1938 at the New Jersey State College of Agriculture.
The first artificial vagina (AV) was reportedly devised by G.
Amantea, which was used to collect semen from the dog . In
the years that followed, numerous Russian researchers developed
artificial vagina for the bull, stallion, and ram. The method of
semen collection using artificial vagina has been reported to be
closest to the natural conditions and is assumed to yield the most
normal ejaculate of all methods used. An attempt has been made
to simulate the normal or best temperature, pressure, lubrication,
and position to obtain the optimum response of the male. The
AV consists of an outer rigid or semi rigid support with an inner
jacket containing controlled-temperature water and pressure and
collecting funnel and container.
In Ethiopia, AI was introduced in 1938 in Asmara, then part
of Ethiopia, which was interrupted due to the Second World War and restarted in 1952 . It was again discontinued due
to unaffordable expenses of importing semen, liquid nitrogen
and other related inputs requirement. In 1967, an independent
service was started in Arsi Region, Chilalo Awraja under the
Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). . has
described that the technology of AI for cattle has been introduced
at the farm level in the country over 35 years ago as a tool for
genetic improvement. The efficiency of the service in the country,
however, has remained at a very low level due to infrastructure,
managerial, and financial constraints and also due to poor heat
detection, improper timing of insemination and embryonic death.
In Ethiopia, there is often complaint of the AI service, by
service users for imbalance female and male ratios of calves born
in which the latter exceeds in percentage, which is against the
interests of most of the beneficiaries. Breeding using AI or natural
mating affected male: female calf ratio, which gives sense and
can be applicable if the system works. However, the reason why
natural mating gave more female progenies than males for cows
mating to AI is not clearly known.
Advantages and disadvantages of artificial insemination:
The worldwide scale and importance of the artificial insemination
industry in cattle breeding are beyond question . Maximum
use of superior sires has been considered as the greatest
advantage of AI while natural service has been linked to limit the
use of one bull, probably, to less than 100 mating per year .
The author further showed that AI usage enabled one dairy sire
to provide semen for more than 60,000 services in one year has
listed many advantages of AI including prevention of reproductive
diseases, control of inbreeding, minimizing the cost of keeping
bulls for natural service and others . Besides, the availability
of accurate breeding records such as breeding dates, pregnancy
rates, inter-estrus intervals, and days to first service used to
monitor fertility are other advantages of AI .
Artificial insemination, however, has disadvantages that
include poor conception rates due to poor heat detection and
inefficiency of AI technicians, dissemination of reproductive
diseases and poor fertility rates if AI centers are not equipped with
appropriate inputs & are not well managed. Other disadvantages
include high cost of production (collection and processing), storage
and transport of semen as well as budget and administrative
problems and inefficiency of AITs
The selection criteria of bulls for AI service must include
record-based pedigree information, individual performance as
regularly recorded starting from the time of birth, which should
include birth weight, subsequent weight increments. Later on,
and general health status should also be parts of the selection
criteria . Recruitment of bull Calves for the purpose of semen
production must be free from a known contagious disease. Bulls
selected for AI have been shown to transmit to their offspring the
genetic potential for well-above-average milk or meat production.
In addition, the progeny must be of desirable conformation,
be long wearing, have quiet disposition, and be free of genetic
defects. Genetic improvement of cattle using AI calls for a
continual replacement of the lower-production-transmitting bulls
by younger, proven bulls with superior genetic merit .
Bull health control: Disease prevention in bulls has been
considered as essential as in breeding females and new bulls need
to be screened by a qualified veterinarian for infectious agents
prior to entering a new herd. Bulls have been recommended to
be purchased only from reputable seed stock producers with
adequate herd health plans; including vaccination against
infectious diseases, e.g. leptospirosis and campylobacteriosis.
Bulls are also recommended to be tested annually for brucellosis,
but not be vaccinated for brucellosis. In some instances, bulls need
to be vaccinated for bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), infectious bovine
rhinotracheitis (IBR), and trichomoniasis . Unless it is made
possible to make full control of the health of bulls selected for
semen production, the disadvantages of artificial insemination in
disseminating diseases will be much higher .
The frequency of tests made, and the diseases tested at NAIC
are not sufficient . According to the international animal
health code (2001) of the Office International des Epizooties
(OIE)), donor and teaser animals should be tested for the following
specific diseases: Bovine Brucellosis, Bovine Tuberculosis, Bovine
Viral Diarrhea, Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis, Campylobacter
fetus/subspecies veneralis, Trichomonas fetus. Nevertheless,
semen-producing bulls at NAIC are tested only for brucellosis and
tuberculosis and yet not on regular basis due to many associated
Semen collection has been considered like harvesting
any other farm crop since effective harvest of semen involves
obtaining the maximum number of sperms of highest possible
quality in each ejaculate to make maximum use of sires. This
involves proper semen collection procedures used on males
that are sexually stimulated and prepared. The initial quality of
semen has been determined by the male and cannot be improved
even with superior handling and processing methods. However,
semen quality can be lowered by improper collection and the
processing techniques . Realization of the maximum benefits
of AI depends upon the collection of maximal numbers of viable
sperm cells at frequent intervals from genetically superior males.
The success of AI depends on the collection of a relatively large
numbers of potentially fertile spermatozoa from genetically
superior sires .
Facilities needed for semen collection: The routine
collection of semen for AI in dairy and beef bulls is by using
artificial vagina. Several essential features have been considered
in designing facilities for collecting semen, of which the safety
of the handler and the collector have been found to be the most
important in bulls in dairy farm. Safety fences usually constructed
of 7.6 cm. steel pipe with spaces large enough for a person to step
through at 2.44 meters intervals should be provided. The collection area must provide good footing to prevent slipping and injury
to the male being collected. An earthen floor in the immediate
collection area best provides this. Means to restrain the teaser
animals to minimize lateral as well as forward movement must be
provided. At the same time, easy access for semen collection must
be maintained .
Appropriate and specialized facilities, equipment’s, and
procedures have been used during collection of semen to prevent
injury to the bulls and their handlers, to maximize the physiological
responsiveness of the bulls in producing semen and to enhance the
quantity and the quality of the semen that can be collected. The
area for semen collection has been preferred clean, relatively quiet
free of distractions and any other stressful procedures. There has
been a report of increase in spermatozoa motility by 50% through
proper sexual stimulation of the bulls .
Procedure for collection of semen from the bull: Standard
semen collection procedures normally include sexual stimulation
and sexual preparation .
a) Sexual stimulation: Providing a stimulus situation
that elicits mounting behavior in the bull is termed “Sexual
Stimulation” .The stimulation process has been best practiced
by exposing the bull to a mount animal in a collection
environment and allowing to move briefly around female/
teaser for a couple of minutes .
b) Sexual preparation: This has been found to determine
the intentional prolongation of sexual stimulation. It is
achieved through a series of false mounts (allowing the bull to
mount but not ejaculate) and restraint and ultimately results
in an increase in the quantity and quality of sperm ejaculated.
In dairy bulls, one false mount plus two minutes of restraint
plus two additional false mounts before each ejaculation will
help obtain the maximum amount of good quality semen .
c) Methods of semen collection: Semen has been collected
in a number of ways, and the methods of collection are
governed by the intended purpose for future use. A sample
for evaluation may need to be only a very small volume and
not as clean a sample as one for use in artificial insemination.
The following various methods have been used in collection of
Recovery: Follows normal copulation and can be applied in
different ways. A pipette such as an inseminating catheter with an
attached suction bulb may be inserted into the vagina following
ejaculation and the semen is, then, siphoned into it. This semen is
contaminated with the fluids of the female tract but is satisfactory
for evaluation. It may also be used for artificial insemination
when trying to overcome some obstruction in the cervix or satisfy
breeding restrictions of some pure-bred societies. This method
can be applied using different mechanisms and includes spooning,
using a sponge, using a cup, and blotting .
a) Massage: Semen has been collected from the bull, in most
instances, by massage. The bull is restrained, and the gloved
arm and hand are lubricated before inserting through the anus
into the rectum. The area of the ampulae, vesicular glands,
and prostate is located under the rectum. The fingertips then
are used to exert a downward pressure milking this area
caudally. This stimulates and mechanically causes the sperm
to be passed through the urethra by gravity to drip from the
b) Vaginal insert: Consists of a tapered insert with a flange
on the end that may be placed in the vagina prior to copulation
c) The electro ejaculation method of semen collection: Has
been derived from observations of persons being electrocuted
that ejaculated in response to the electrical stimulus. The
semen collected by electro ejaculation is equal in quality
to that collected by the artificial vagina, and processing,
storage, and later use are comparable. The method of electro
ejaculation for semen collection is preferred to the artificial
vagina method under certain conditions. It has been used
for dairy bulls that have become crippled, have low sexual
activity due to age, or for other reasons are unable to serve the
artificial vagina. However, semen should not be collected and
used from males that have not demonstrated normal sexual
behavior or ability to ejaculate, as the cause may be genetic
and transmitted to the offspring .
Assessment of ejaculate: Monitoring of qualitative semen
characteristics has been indicated to be an important function of
the AI Laboratory. Seasonal and even daily fluctuations in a bull’s
seminal characteristics are possible. Therefore, to maintain a
quality AI program constant vigilance is required. An integral part
of this monitoring is an accurate system for keeping records of the
bull’s seminal quality. Such records document the bull’s history
of seminal quality and provide information on which to base
production related decisions .
a) Physical appearance: The gross appearance of freshly
collected bull semen has been described usually to be the
first measure of quality made by the semen laboratory. Neat
(unaltered) semen normally appears as a thick whitish to
slightly yellowish fluid whose consistency is mainly determined
by the number of spermatozoa it contains. Normal bull semen
has very little odor . The microscopic appearance of bull’s
semen varies between ejaculates, individual bulls, breed, and
age. Normal bull semen is generally white or yellowish creamy
b) Volume: The volume of the ejaculate is readily measured
by collecting the sample directly into a graduated vial .
Alternatively, it can be done by weighing the tubes after semen
collection on top-loading balance, and later converting the
reading into milliliter by using a computer program. The latter
has been known to reduce error associated with visual reading
of the tube specially when small volume or bubbles are found
by 10% . The volume has been reported to decline when
young bulls are used or when there is frequent ejaculation or incomplete or failure of ejaculation and in bilateral seminal
Furthermore, those authors have described in summary
that a number of factors like season of the year, method of
collection, and the sexual preparation of the bull have been
known to affect semen volume. The volume of bull’s semen
varies between ejaculates, individual bulls, breed, and age.
However, a bull with less than 2ml of semen per ejaculate
is not acceptable . Semen volume for Bostaurus bulls in
Brazil was reported to be 6.9ml and 8.2ml in different years
. Crossbred bulls had higher values of semen volume while
Friesian bulls had better values in the rest of the parameters
and age had significant effect only on semen volume .
Differences between reports on semen volume could be
attributed to differences in age, breed, nutritional status,
geographic locations and seasons of year of study, method
of semen collection and handling of bulls during collection,
procedure and frequency of collection .
c) Spermatozoa motility: Motility of spermatozoa has been
defined as the percentage of sperm cells that are motile under
their own power and progressive motility of spermatozoa
has been defined as those spermatozoa that are moving
or progressing from one point to another in a more or less
straight line .Spermatozoa are driven by a propulsive
apparatus, the flagellum, which is equipped with contractile
proteins strategically arranged in longitudinal organelles,
the coarse fibers, and with associated sub filaments, and
micro tubes, which provide the propulsive force necessary to
overcome internal structural resistance and external viscous
drag of extra cellular fluids .
Motility of spermatozoa at time of collection has been
used commonly as a measure of the fertilizing ability of the
sperm .However, spermatozoa have been found to lose
their fertilizing capacity before they lose motility, which
puts motility estimation to be not necessary indicative of
fertilizing capacity of the sperm . In general, however, a
definite correlation has been found between concentration,
morphology, and motility of spermatozoa and the proportion
of the total number of actively motile normal spermatozoa in
the ejaculate has been found to show levels of fertility of the
The individual sperm motility is evaluated by taking small
drops of semen onto a slide with cover slip under high
magnification (200X). Sperm cells moving in a straight-line
forward direction are considered in the motility measure. In
order to be acceptable bull semen should have at least 70%
and 40% motility respectively at the time of collection and
after freezing .
d) Live-dead sperm evaluation (vital staining): The
percentage of live sperm has been determined by means of a
differential vital stain. The measure of the live-dead sperm ratio
may be useful in conjunction with the motility examination
for a more complete analysis. A certain percentage of dead
sperm may not be apparent in initial microscopic motility
examinations, since these inactive sperm might be moved
about merely by action of the live motile sperm. In addition, a
proportion of sperm estimated to be motile may be weak and
show only slow oscillatory movements. Differential live-dead
staining may help reveal these differences, thus supplementing
initial motility estimations and providing more conclusive
e) Sperm morphology: The normal morphology of
spermatozoa is composed of a head and a tail that is divided
into a mid-piece, main-piece, and end-piece .Films for
microscopic examination under the oil immersion lens are
made immediately after the motility estimation, but the
examination can be made, subsequently, in the laboratory
. To obviate temperature shock and the assumption of
spurious morphological defects, a drop of semen is mixed with
two drops of Indian ink previously raised to body temperature
on a warm slide. The drops are mixed and spread like a blood
film. Between 200 and 300 sperms are examined and classified
according to their shape and appearance. Fertile bulls show
about 90 percent of the morphologically normal sperms.
The following morphological abnormalities can be
investigated. These include: tailless sperms and sperms with
looped tail, the commonest sperm abnormalities which are
detachment of the sperm head and bending of the middle
piece and tail around and over the sperm head (looped tails),
sperms with coiled tails (this abnormality is of two types: the
coil involves the extremity of the tail, or the coil, which includes
the whole of the tail & sometimes the middle piece) immature
or unripe sperms (these are characterized by the presence of
a droplet of protoplasm at the junction of the sperm head with
the middle piece at the so-called neck), abnormalities of the
sperm head and cytogenic disturbances, and other defective
f) Overall assessments: Evaluations routinely conducted
by the AI laboratory that have been used to determine
whether the semen that is collected and processed for use
could be used for practical purpose are screening tests for
quality and number of spermatozoa in order to eliminate
any substandard ejaculates. This initial screening also avoids
wasting expensive supplies, antibiotics, semen extenders, etc.,
because substandard samples are not processed .
Semen that passes initial screening have been further
extended, cooled, packaged into straws, and frozen. After
freezing, a representative sample is normally thawed and
evaluated using various laboratory tests. These post-thaw
evaluations not only reflect the ability of the semen to
withstand the processing conditions (process quality control)
but also can give some indication of the potential fertility of
the semen (fertility prediction). Assessing the progressive motility of the semen sample is probably the most common
evaluation made for post-thaw viability .
Estrus and estrus detection: Estrus has been defined as a
period when the female shows characteristic sexual behavior in
the presence of a mature male, such as immobility, raising the
hind quarters or arching the back, pricking of the ears-features
that are collectively termed lordosis in small laboratory animals;
mounting and riding behavior between females is also common
(Where AI or hand mating is being used, estrus detection is the
most important limiting factor . Insufficient and/or inaccurate
estrus detection leads to delayed insemination. Since the fertile
life of eggs in most species is relatively short and sperm may
require capacitation before they are capable of fertilizing ova,
insemination should precede ovulation. Ovulation is difficult to
determine routinely, so inseminations are usually related to the
time of onset of estrus. Estrus in the cow is characterized by the
psychic manifestation of heat. The cow may bawl frequently, is
usually restless, may attempt to mount other animals, and will
stand to be mounted/standing heat .
Timing of insemination: In the cow, maximum fertility has
been achieved if inseminated from mid estrus to the end of estrus.
Fertilization of the ovum has been reported to occur in the oviduct
at the junction of the isthmus and ampulla. The life span of the
ovum is around 12 – 18 hours and its viability decrease with
time. About 8 hours after service sufficient spermatozoa have
reached the isthmus of the oviduct. For fertilization to take place,
capacitation of the spermatozoa is required. Capacitated sperm
cells show a hyper motility and have undergone the acrosome
reaction. The life span of spermatozoa is limited. If insemination
takes place too early, the sperm cells will die before fertilization
of the ovum can occur. Conversely, when insemination is over
delayed, the ovum has lost its capacity to be fertilized .
Factors affecting success of artificial insemination: The
site of semen deposition has been an important factor in the
success of AI in cattle. In addition, the deposition of semen in the
uterine body resulted in a 10% higher non-return rate than did
cervical deposition. An increase in the conception rate has been
reported when semen was deposited in the uterine horns rather
than the uterine body . In contrast, no difference was found
in the fertilization rate, conception rate or non-return in uterine
body and uterine horn inseminations .
The major factors that determine AI efficiency are heat
detection skills, fertility level of the herd, semen quality, and
efficiency of inseminators. Similarly, a successful insemination
requires the acquisition of quality semen from a bull, the detection
of estrus in the female, and the ability to properly place the semen
in the reproductive tract of the female . Detection of estrus has
been known to be one of the most difficult tasks for successful AI
activities, which in turn is affected by diseases of testis, epididymis,
and accessory glands in the male . and diseases of the female
reproductive tract .
The success of AI depends upon various factors such as the
efficiency, capacity and commitment of AI centers in procedurally
and ethically producing, processing, handling and distributing
semen; the commitments and efficiencies of AITs; presence
of appropriate breeding policy along with proper control of
indiscriminate crossbreeding; proper heat detections by farmers
and other factors .
Artificial insemination and fertility rates: Fertility is
measured by calving rate to first service for artificially inseminated
dairy cattle . Conception rate at first breeding provides a
useful estimate of the conception rate for a herd. However, it
is a measurement that combines the effects of semen quality,
fertility of the cow, timing of insemination, semen handling
and insemination techniques, as well as factors such as high
environmental temperature and stress .
In USA, conception rate of virgin heifers has been found
relatively constant at approximately 65% to first service
conception; whereas the first service conception rates for lactating
cows has decreased approximately 33% from 60 to 40 % .
Number of services per conception as an indicator of reproductive
efficiency has been defined as the number of services required
for a successful conception [41, 42]. The number of services
per conception is directly related to the conception rate in the
herd. Female fertility, male fertility, environmental factors, and
techniques used in AI are the four general multitude factors that
determine the ultimate outcome of conception per insemination.
Female fertility refers to any factor directly related to the
heifer/cow that may alter her probability of becoming pregnant,
including condition of the reproductive tract, nutritional status,
changes in body condition from calving to insemination, age, and
breed. The mean first service conception rate for Virginia Dairy
Herd Institute herds over the past 12 months in USA has been
found 40 ± 13% . There is a great reduction in fertility during
the summer for lactating cows than for non-lactating heifers. High
milk yield intensifies the effects of heat stress on conception and is
related to increased metabolic rates and reduced thermoregulatory
ability for cows with high milk yield.
Techniques used in AI include accuracy of heat detection,
timing of insemination, semen handling, and placement in the
reproductive tract. Fertility in cattle is affected by environmental,
genetic, disease, and management factors. These influence the
reproductive process at ovulation, fertilization, or implantation
during gestation and parturition .
In Ethiopia, several factors have been reported to influence
the number of services per conception. Breeding taking place
during the dry season required more services per conception than
the short and long rainy seasons . Management factors such as
accuracy of estrus detection, timing of insemination, insemination
technique, semen quality, skill of pregnancy diagnosis have been
reported to affect number of services per conception . Higher
number of services per conception might also result from repeat breeding due to infectious and/or noninfectious diseases . In
postpartum cows, the mean number of services per conception
as 2.4 and 2.7 for sub clinical endometritis positive cows, fourth
and eighth weeks postpartum, respectively as compared to 1.7 for
sub clinical endometritis negative cows showing that sub clinical
endometritis has a significant effect on number of services per
AI service in Ethiopia has been given little or no emphasis
at the federal, regional or wereda levels during the last years
though it is an important and the most widely practiced animal
biotechnology all over the world. Hence, it can generally be
concluded that the AI service in Ethiopia is on the verge of total
collapse unless urgent corrective measures are taken. The most
important constraints associated with AI in Ethiopia include loss
of structural linkage between AI Center and service giving units,
absence of collaboration and regular communication between
NAIC and stakeholders, lack of breeding policy and herd recording
system, inadequate resource in terms of inputs and facilities, Based
on the above conclusions the following points are recommended:
1. Selection of bulls for AI should strictly follow the
standard guidelines and procedures set for the purpose and
also the national livestock development policies of the country
2. Establishment of a functional breeding policy
and strategy should be given at most priority and each
stakeholder and professional should work hard towards its
3. Import semen of the desired quality for the immediate
use in accordance with the rules and regulations for the
import of genetic materials to be followed by creating reliable
source of semen producing bulls through reestablishing the
Milk recording Scheme of the center in a more strengthened
4. The AI service provision should be restructured in such a
way that it responds well to the breed improvement programs
of the country. It should be well organized with clearly defined
duties and responsibilities of stakeholders.
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