Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 16, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
8 THE CHINOOK The Iclhbridge Herald, Thursday, 14, 1972 ianics filling containers Liquid nitrogen By RIG Hcrnl.l Stuff Writer Filling one cubic centimeter glass vials and one half cubic centimeter plastic straws with extended semoii is (ho most mechanical .stage of the pro- cc.ssmg of semen for artificial insemination. Wi til the lord semen ready for the single dosage containers, the vials a n empty sl-raws, about aVi inches Jnng, are placed in a special holder with a .semi permeable plug in one end which allows air to pass through. The open end of the straws Alberta Artificial insemination is the implantation of processed sem- en in t o a f em n !e in order to cau.se pregnancy. The most common use of AI Is in the livestock industry for tho reproduction of quality cat- tle. Semen from tho best bulls can be used by any cattle owner to irpgrade the total herd. The first authentic Account pi scientific research in AI was in 1780, when an Italian scientist succe.Vif u 11 y inseminated a bitch. It was at this time that it was discovered that the fer- tilizing power of the semen re- sided in Utc sperm. Duo to a short a go of sires in Ttus-sia, AI rcsearrh was strong i n t eo imt ry. E. I. I va nof f successfully inseminated birds, cattle and sltccp in 1899. By me, 1.2 million cows, nnd 15 million sheep were bred artificially in arc immersed in a both of ex- tended semen. A vacuum pump fills the straws to the proper level and the holding rack is fitting to lo another holder. This liolder Ls then inserted into an elctronic heating unit with (lie open end up. When Utc circuit is com- pleted, the sealing machine heals the plastic and squeezes it shut. All work in tlic sealing room is done at 40 degrees Fahren- heit. There is a limited amount of breakage? with glass vials. With pTastac straws, some are not sealed properly and some aren't fall. The vials and straws arc then mounted in a special wire tray for insertion into the nitro- gen freeing vats. freezes semen Liquid nitrogen has a mean temperature of minus 320 de- grees Fahrenheit, 352 degrees below lh e f ree7 ing point of water and yet this is the secret to life giving semen in the arti- ficial insemination of cattle, Glass vials, containing one cubic centimeter of semen and VIALS FILLED WITH SEMEN Soulhern Sires Ltd. uses this special machine to fill the glass vials with a measured arnounf of processed semen. The vials enter the spacing rock from o holding rack and proceed to the smai' needle tap. One cubic centimeter of semen is put into each vial and the flame seals !h3 top of the vial with a twisting motion while the glass IL still molten. The filled vials ore thsn deposited on the rack in the fronl of the picture. Note the waste end of one vial in tli3 tray to the right, at about the middle of the picture, Russi a. TJ y J two million cattle ami 2iJ million sheep were bred. The next country to try AI was Denmark, By ]951, th a t country was inseminating 55 por cent of it's cows artificially. By 1962, the success of AI was proven. The USSR report- ed 11.G million cattle bred, lire U.S. million, France four million, Great Britain and West Germany two million each and more than one million cattle in Denmark, Japan, C7x-cho- slova.kia and the Netherlands. At (his time Canada was near- ing the one million mark. Miles S. Kuryvial, supervisor of AI for the Alberta depart- ment of agriculture, saiil (he first semen prxxlucing labora- tory in Alberta was constructed during 1943 in Olds. It was bwilt wider the direction of W. n. T. Mead, director of the ani- mal industry division of the ADA. The Olds Livestock Breeding Club was formed in 94-1 and officials inseminated 779 cattle the first year 564 with Hoi- stem sires and 215 with short- horn sires, Mr. Kuryvial said the first semen wns used in fresh form. Consequently, semen had to be supplied on a continuous basis ranee storage was limited to two or three days. This club was suspended in 1949, The Edmonton Artificial nreoding Association was start- ed in 1053, with cows bred tlie first year. The success of the Edmon- ton unit lead to the establish- ment of other AI stations in bt-rta. The development of techniques in 1953 by an Eng- lish scientist revolutionized the industry. Kerber Pholo Dr. Polge discovered a meth- od of freezing semen at minus 79 degrees Fahrenheit. In AI units were formed at Olds, Stcttler, Acme, Wet as- kiwJn, Wcstlock and Calgary. During this year, head b( cattle inseminated, This figure continual to climb, with in 1057 and in 1958 and in 1059. Puichor Creek and Cardston units were formed in 1059. Ijiqmd nitrogen as a storago medium for semen was first used in Alberta in 1961. Tli i s development allowed Kcinen to IMJ frozen and stored at minus 320 degrees Fahren- heit. It allows ranchers to storo and use their complete semen Eirpply at the breeding site. With this innovation insemi- n ation records continued to grow, with cows serviced to 19G1 and in 3963. plastic straws, containing ono half of a cubic centimeter, arc the primary containers used in the AI industry. These containers, once fro zen, can be kept indefinitely at the minimum tempera hire and when thawed, can sWl conceive young. Part of the secret is in Uw processing which gives the live sperm a high protein medium for mitrilition and a protective covering of glycerol. This Is sUll theory, but tests have shown that unless these two substances are in proper proportion, Uie process doesn't work. Southern Sires Ltd., three miles south of Lethbridge, is southern Alberta's only AI stud s tat ion. Glen Salmon, 1 s bora- lory technician, is in charge of the processing and freezing oi bull semen. Once the semen is processed] and in the vials or straws, it must be frozen within a short time cf being put into the tamers. Usirg only the vapor from the liquid nitrogen, aided with five pounds of air pressure within Ihe large storage tanks, the semen tempo ra t tire drops from 40 degrees to minus 320 degree Fahrenheit in mii> This quick freeze aids in the life support of the live sperm. Once frozen, the technician withdraws one vial or straw for a test of the live sperm fac- tor. Using a test simitar (o that used to determine the fertility factor of the raw semen, the test sample is taken from the- vial or straw. With 0.05 of a cubic centi- meter of processed sctncn put into a sodium citrate solution, used as a medium for the sperm, a spectrometer is used to get a reading. After microscopic examina semen from the container to deter- mine the ratio of live to dead sperm, the techni ci an uses a conversion table to determine the actual live sperm count. If the figure arrived at Is more than 10 million sperm, the semen is judged good. Since the whole "batch11 was processed and frozen identical- ly, it is assumed nil of it is good semen. J( tire sperm count drops below 10 million, Hie bnlch of up to 300 containers could bo withdrawn. Southern Sires usually havo 14 to 15 million live sperm in each container zifler being thawed. This same test is conducted one month after the initial freeze and if it is positive, Ihe technician assumes the semen will be good indefinitely. For actual storage, t h o semen s kept immersed in Jiirtrid nitrogen, The largest storage tank has a capacity of vials op one mil Lion straws si a eked in two layers, For tra nsportat i on to custo- mers, the company has several field tanks. Like the large stor- age tanks, thefie are actually large insulated containers. They hold SCO vials or straws. For use in tlje artific-ial in- semination of cattle, Hie vials or straws are withdrawn from Uie insulated storage tanks and) fnrmerscd in cold water, Coltl water is used io slow down (he thawing process, adding to the live sperm factor.