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Field testing the influence of sperm competition based on sperm mobility in breeder turkey toms

Donoghue, A.M., Kirby, J.D., Froman, D.P., Lerner, S.P., Crouch, A.N., King, L.M., Donoghue, D.J., Sonstegard, T.S.
British poultry science 2003 v.44 no.3 pp. 498-504
DNA, absorbance, blood, field experimentation, flocks, genotype, hens, males, microsatellite repeats, paternity, polymerase chain reaction, poults, progeny, semen, sperm competition, spermatozoa, toms
1. Commercial reproduction of turkeys relies on pooling of semen from multiple males for inseminations. Understanding how sperm characteristics influence paternity under commercial breeding conditions is important to improving production efficiency. 2. The objective of this study was to evaluate progeny production of individual toms following commercial practices of pooling semen to determine if sperm mobility influences progeny production in field conditions. 3. A total of 104 toms were evaluated for sperm mobility. A subset of 10 toms were housed together and semen was collected, pooled and used to inseminate hens (n = 28). Hens were inseminated at 30 weeks of age and weekly thereafter. 4. Ejaculates from each tom were evaluated on two separate days for sperm mobility. Semen from each tom was diluted and layered upon 6% (wt/vol) Accudenz® solution. The sperm suspension was incubated at 41°C for 5 min and absorbance was measured with a spectrophotometer. 5. Toms were ranked by absorbance and categorised as high or low if mobility score was ±1 SD from the flock mean (average). 6. For parentage determination, DNA was extracted from tom, hen and poult blood. Poult parentage (n = 276) was determined at one day of age or at 14 weeks by analysis of marker genotypes that were generated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of genomic DNA with selected microsatellite markers. 7. Sperm mobility differed across males with absorbance values ranging from 0·147 to 0·366. 8. Findings demonstrate differences in poult production among individual toms when semen from multiple males was pooled and inseminated. Toms classified as high, average and low produced 55, 41 and 4% of the offspring, respectively. 9. It appears that sperm mobility is a trait that influences sperm competition among toms under field conditions where sperm numbers inseminated from individual toms are not controlled or constant and that toms with low sperm mobility produce few offspring.